Page 3 Profile: Terry Green, Queue master


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The Independent Online

I need guidance.

Terry Green is the man behind the voice that tells you which window to send your letters from, which checkout to purchase your plums at, and which teller to cash your cheque with. His dulcet tones direct an estimated 30m queuing customers every month with that famous refrain ‘Cashier number one please’.

He’s like the Maharishi of queuing?

If you like. Discussing ‘queue theory’ on Radio 4 last week, he said an effective queue gives a “sense that things are progressing forward”, adding “it’s all about knowing who’s next… that a process has started”. Such a system he says, makes the queuer “more comfortable and less stressed”.

Ommm, my time hath come.

Hold up, this isn’t just about your lightness of being. He’s made a career out of the whole business, co-founding the company Qmatic in the 1980s to help with “customer flow management”. When the system needed a voice, he stepped up to the mic himself. It now directs roughly a quarter of the world’s entire population. And he’s authored two books on the subject, ‘You’re Next’ and ‘Cashier Number Three Please’.

More wisdom, please.

“You get very focused on how long queues take and how the service is being distributed so I do like to share my thoughts with shop staff,” he muses. “If I am in a shop and I receive good service, I will congratulate the staff but if I receive bad service, I will definitely tell someone about it.” 

We bow before thee.

His role as leader of the masses has come with all the trappings of fame. “If you wander up and down most High Streets in this country you’ll hear me saying “Cashier number three please” and it does make your voice a bit recognisable,” he explains. “The other day I was doing work for an NHS hospital and people were coming up to me and saying ‘so you are the cashier number three person. Say it. Say it.”