Managing Multiple Customers
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5 tips for juggling customers, callers and walk-ins
You know the scenario... your workday is running smoothly and
manageably when suddenly you find yourself dealing with one customer in
front of you, another on the phone, while a third arrives with just
a quick question. When organizations bring me to conduct
customer service seminars, I find this is one of the most frequent
challenges frontline employees ask me to address. While there are no
absolute rules for juggling customers (you need to
adapt to your workplace's business realities) here are 5 tips that we
find work well for our clients in reducing stress and boosting customer
Tip #1 Remember, this is good
Having lots of customers wanting to do business with you is
wonderful. It means you and your organization are in demand. The
obvious solution to juggling multiple customers is just to hire more
people. Of course that's oversimplified, and may make no economic sense
- especially when there may be only one or two rush periods during the
day or week. When you see more customers arrive, don't let them see you
sweat. Take the professional approach and broaden your smile - even
though it may be slightly forced. Keep in mind the adage of LL Bean who
said, "Customers are not interruptions to your work, they are the purpose
of your work."
Tip #2 Don't make things worse
One of the most frequent gaffs in frontline service is when a
customer needs to ask a question but the employees are preoccupied -
talking with each other. Even more aggravating is
when the staff congregates to socialize while
customers are left to fend for themselves. The place for employees to
chat and hold meetings is in the staff area; not in front of customers.
When you're on the floor, make yourself visible and
available to customers. Of course, that also means
not interrupting your co-workers who are talking to customers. If you
need to talk to a coworker who's taking care of a customer, give your
colleague a quick nod, then let him/her come to you when they've
finished with the customer. If you absolutely must interrupt, then
excuse yourself and apologize to the customer for the interruption, and
as you leave, thank the customer for their patience.
Tip #3 Walk-ins take priority over phone-ins
If you already have a visitor in front of you when the phone
rings, the visitor gets priority. The visitor took the time/spent the
gas money to arrive in person. Unless you have callers with genuine
emergencies, don't interrupt a visitor to pick up the phone. That's
what voice mail is for. If you must take the phone call, ask the
visitor's permission, explain that you want to focus on them, so you'll
quickly take a message and get back to your conversation. Then tell the
caller that you are with another customer but will look into their
request and call them back. That way, even if the caller insists on
immediate service, the visitor sees that you are at least trying to
make them the priority.
Tip #4 Acknowledge walk-ins right away
If you are on the phone or face-to-face with a customer when a
visitor walks-in, acknowledge the visitor immediately with eye-contact,
a smile and a quick, "I'll be with you in just a few minutes (or
however long it will be)." By acknowledging the visitor, you are
conveying that you are aware of them and that you are working quickly.
And it tells the person in front of you that you have other people
waiting. Usually, they'll get the hint that you need to wrap-up.
A common challenge is how to politely interrupt a phone caller
to acknowledge a walk-in visitor. Here's a quick tip - say the person's
name. "John, excuse me. I just had someone walk into my office, may I
put you on hold for a moment? Thanks." Beginning with the person's name
gets their attention immediately without being rude.
For new arrivals who have just a quick question...
If it is indeed quick, that's great; give them the ten seconds they
need and then get back your first person. If it's going to take more
than ten seconds then tell the person, "That's going to take a few
minutes to go over, so I'll finish taking care of this person which
will take me about x minutes, then I'll be happy to help you.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to sit, grab a coffee... Thanks."
Tip #5 Address chronic staffing/line management issues
In tip #1 I pointed out that hiring more staff may not make
economic sense. However, when customers constantly get the impression
the organization is disorganized, understaffed or uncaring about
customers' time, that's a problem that requires more than just having
staff work faster. Managers need to either hire more staff, consider
moving phone calls to a call centre, or implement line management
practices. Speaking of which, you'll find tips on handling waiting
lines by clicking on my related article, Yes, I Mind Waiting.
Meanwhile, be thankful that business is so good. Here's hoping that
this helps makes managing multiple customers less frustrating for
About the Author
is based on the bestselling book,
Influence with Ease®
customer service strategist and certified professional speaker Jeff
obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for
team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com
or call toll
free 1-800-JMowatt (566-9288).
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-08-07 09:08:41 in Marketing Articles