Who Comes First – the Physical Customer or the Phone Customer?

Suppose you were to walk into a dry-cleaner and the clerk is on the phone with another customer.  You put your clothes on the counter and all visual cues about your stance and demeanor indicate that you are in a hurry.  What would you want the clerk to do if you were the customer physically in the drycleaner location?  What would you want the clerk to do if you were the customer on the phone?

This is where customer service guidelines come into play.  As a manager or business owner, it is essential to train for situations such as this in order to keep all customers happy and to alleviate stress on your staff.

In this example, my advice would be to train the clerk to make eye contact with the customer as she walks in, smile, nod, and give some gesture that she will be right with the customer.  Since we can tell by the way the customer is appearing rushed, looking at her watch and glancing around to see if anyone else could help her, the clerk at this point should ask the caller to please hold, then take care of the physical customer. Once that customer is taken care of, then the caller receives the rest of the help they need.

All three people in this scenario are important and dependent upon each other.  The trick is to identify these situations in advance and train your staff on how to properly handle them.  Assuming you’ve hired right and have staff who truly strive to deliver the best customer service possible, they will also be able to gauge any situations that don’t fit the guideline and make the necessary adjustments and still keep the customer happy.

Your staff need to have the customer service skills necessary to manage the demands of the customer.  It is essential to train for this and to keep training as a continual process, not a one time event.  When you train and empower your staff, they will serve your customers better.

And, your customers will thank you for it.

2 Replies to “Who Comes First – the Physical Customer or the Phone Customer?”

  1. I’m more of a “first in, first out” girl, and since the customer on the phone was there first, he/she should be served first. Obviously there is a gray area, but just because you’re “in a hurry” doesn’t mean you should be prioritized over the customer on the phone — he/she might be in a hurry too.

    Louise says:
  2. I do definitely like to when the clerk takes care of the customer in the store first. It is rather annoying to have to wait while they finish a long conversation. I like your suggestion of how to handle the situation.

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