One of the challenges associated particularly with the retail experience has to do with handling multiple customers at the same - i.e., juggling - without antagonizing or frustrating each one. I'm sure you've been on the receiving end.
Good customer jugglers are able to deal with multiple priorities. They know how to 'bend' time [see Waiting and the Retail Experience] so that customers don't wind up in a waiting black hole. They are able to manage customer expectations and prevent them from developing negative feelings as a result. It's a vital customer experience talent and not for everyone.
However, The Apple Experience: Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty by Carmine Gallo offers 3 steps on how to master juggling or multitasking while taking care of customers. More specifically, Address, Assess and Assign. I was taken with the simplicity of the steps and the process that it offers for dealing with otherwise challenging customer situations.
1. Address - Address requires that customers be welcomed [i.e., acknowledged] within 10 seconds of their arrival into a store or showroom. This means smiling, locking eyes and verbally welcoming each one. Ideally, in the welcome exchange you are able to gain enough information to help with the next step.
2. Assess - Assess means determining which is the best approach for each customer [I consider this the equivalent of triage]: is this a 'quick fix', or one that coincides with what you are currently taking care of? Can you enlist someone's else help for a more involved resolution? Or, will the person need to wait for your full attention?
3. Assign - Assign [or execute] the solution identified in the previous step has implications in a wait time in involved. How will you manage expectations?
[Gallo offers more detail and anecdotes on pages 69 through 72 of his book in a section titled "Three Steps to a Happier Customer".]
These 3 steps may only take a minute or two, but having a process to follow helps ensure consistency and customer delight.
How do your associates juggle multiple customers? How do you ensure that your customers have excellent experiences even during the busiest times?
Image Credit: Juggling on Flickr