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The Wait We Hate the Most: Survey Finds DMV Tops the List

As consumers driven to frustration, self-service is emerging as the new ''essential convenience.''

Waiting in line can be frustrating no matter where we are. But the most frustrating wait for Americans: cooling our heels at local department or division of motor vehicles (DMV) offices, closely followed by waiting to make purchases at retail outlets.

A survey conducted for NCR Corporation by Opinion Research Corp. also found that 39 percent of consumers are willing to use time-saving self-service alternatives to help reduce their wait times.

Although the DMV was number one on their "wait we hate the most" list, respondents in the "NCR Queue Review" survey dislike waiting for service in many other areas affecting daily life. Ranking third, fourth and fifth on the list were registering at clinics or hospitals; checking in for airline flights at airports; and ordering at fast-food restaurants or deli counters.

"Clearly, Americans want more control over their lives, and that includes being able to reduce the time they spend in nonproductive activities such as waiting in lines," said Mike Webster, vice president, Self-Service Solutions Division at NCR. "Fortunately, a growing number of retail, travel, health care and government organizations are providing alternatives -- including self-service solutions -- to help give that valuable time back to their customers, patients and clients."

The top reasons for consumers' frustration with waiting for service or waiting in line were: the lack of employees able to assist them (44 percent), a concern for being late (39 percent), not knowing how much longer they'd have to wait (33 percent) and the time it takes for each person ahead of them to finish (19 percent).

A Day or Two Saved is Quality Time Earned
The survey found that consumers figure they are spending more than two days per year waiting in line for service -- time they believe could be better spent with friends or family or other forms of leisure. Nearly half (49 percent) of the respondents estimate they waste between 30 minutes to two hours each week waiting for service. Younger consumers seem especially cognizant of their lost time, with one-sixth (16 percent) of those aged 18 to 24 saying that in a typical week they waste two hours or more standing in line or waiting for service.

When asked how they would use time saved by using self-service technologies instead of waiting in line, spending more time with friends or family was the clear winner from a list of 10 possible alternative activities.

Consumers are seeking and embracing alternatives, such as self-checkout and other self-service technologies, to reduce their wait and help them get out the door faster. Thirty-nine percent of the survey respondents said they would be extremely or very interested in using a self-service kiosk or other self-service device if one was available to help them complete the activity at hand more quickly.

The survey found that minorities are even more inclined toward self-service technologies, with 55 percent of African-American and 57 percent of Hispanic survey respondents saying they have chosen one provider of goods or services over another because it offered the option of self-service.