How to Juggle Phone Calls and Visitors

Michele Warg
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When you are employed in administrative work, juggling multiple tasks becomes commonplace. However, juggling multiple customers is a complex task that often leads to frustrated customers if the situation is not handled effectively. If your job duties include attending multiple customers, including phone callers and walk-in customers, you want to ensure each customer is attended to without creating a bad impression.

Part of good customer service is ensuring every customer receives prompt attention. If you are on the phone with a caller when a customer walks in, ask the caller to hold for a moment and attend to the walk-in customer immediately. According to renowned customer service strategist Jeff Mowatt, the customer who takes the time to come to your organization should always have priority over a customer on the phone. After greeting the customer, explain that you are just finishing a phone call, and wrap things up with the customer on the other end of the line. If necessary, schedule a return call.

If the phone begins ringing at roughly the same time a customer walks in, greet the customer first, but do not ignore the phone call for too long. The customer in front of you is likely analyzing your professionalism, and he might think that he too would be ignored if he were to call. If you cannot handle the phone call quickly, either put the caller on hold or arrange to call him back after taking care of the other customer.

If you are dealing with a line of multiple customers and frequent phone calls, you may need to adopt a different strategy. When the phone rings while you are handling one customer, put the caller on hold until you finish your business with the customer. Then, handle the caller's request before attending to the next customer in line. This type of situation most often occurs when the work area is understaffed. It is frustrating for all customers involved; it should be the organization's priority to ensure this happens as little as possible.

Your organization may not have enough employees to give multiple customers the individual attention they deserve. If this is the case, management may want to consider hiring a student intern to work as a telephone receptionist. Oftentimes, people call an organization to have simple questions answered. For instance, they may check to see if an item is in stock or ask for directions. If the majority of your calls falls into this category, less-skilled employees or interns should attend the phone while the most experienced employees handle walk-in visitors.

Your organization should do everything it can to ensure that multiple customers are attended to, even if that means hiring an additional employee. According to a survey by customer service software company Synthetix, 90 percent of consumers would move to a competitor if they received poor customer service. It is vitally important that you attend multiple customers with prompt service and professionalism.

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