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A Reader Asks, How Do You Manage Phone Calls, In-Store Customers?

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Question: How do you manage phone calls while waiting on a walk-in customer in front of you? What are some good techniques I can use?

Gerald: This is a great question! There are many ways to deal with the phone call, however, each scenario is different.

In our stores, we’re trained to answer the phone by the third ring and most times, we do. But this is where the quandary begins, I am sure.

Is it about the customer in front of you? Or the one on the phone? It’s both. You have to read the customer in front of you and see if that person is in a hurry. It’s imperative that you take care of that customer as they are captive in your store and ready to spend money, so you can ill afford for them to walk away.
However, over the years, many companies have put heavy emphasis on the phone-in customer. I’m sure your company has a but, in reality, that policy is just a suggestion, right? Here’s the answer as I see it: Politely ask the in-store customer to excuse you while you answer the phone. The customer on the phone should be informed you are with another customer and you will be back with them shortly. If you are going to be delayed and there is no one else to assist them, you might ask for a number to call them back.
Most customers who frequent our parts stores understand that we have both on-phone and in-store demands from customers. If a customer agrees to be placed on hold, be sure and go back about every 45 seconds or so and let them know you have not forgotten about them.

We also play favorites as well. A customer who spends $2,500 a month with us will get top billing and get helped before the customer at the counter.

Hope I helped with the quandary. Thanks for the question.


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