Supply chain shortages, backlogs and price hikes have caused increasing numbers of customers to voice questions and concerns that may have you and your team feeling pressured. Employees trying to finish a task for one customer may become flustered when ‘interrupted’ with another request. That’s a formula for a bad day for a lot of people.
That’s why, when managers bring me in for team training, we talk about several guiding principles when juggling multiple customers such as:
Customers are not interruptions
As LL Bean put it, customers are not interruptions to our work, they are the purpose of
our work. Rather than becoming annoyed at all the customer inquiries, we need to remember that without those customers, we wouldn’t be employed. So, broaden your smile and be grateful when more customers come at you. This is a good thing.
Don’t abandon customers midstream
It’s rude to interrupt a customer who’s in front of you to accept phone calls. Instead, use the backup of other team members or voicemail.
Acknowledge visitors right away
When talking with a customer in front of you, briefly acknowledge any new in-person arriving as they enter. Invite them to have a coffee/ seat and explain you’ll be with them soon. Then complete the work with the first customer.
Create systems for managing multiple customers
There’s no excuse for forcing customers to wait unreasonably. Nor should management expect employees to rush through customer interactions. It only creates more problems with morale, mistakes, and customer experience. Management needs to invest in customer service systems; be they artificial intelligence chat bots, FAQs on your website, and adequate staffing and/or outsourcing to handle customer surges.
Don’t be part of the problem
As customers, we’ve all been subjected to staff who seemed more interested in chatting with one another than serving customers. Sometimes the culprit is a manager who interrupts frontline workers in front of customers. Frontline staff need to make themselves visible and available. Generally, coworker conversations should take place behind the scenes.
The good news is most customers understand supply issues and delays. As long as we are seen to be caring about their concerns, and about their valuable time, we can continue to build customer loyalty. That makes everyone’s day go better.