How to Handle Phone Calls and Visitors

Julie Shenkman
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People working in administrative or clerical positions often have to walk a delicate balance between getting work done and providing customer service. These tasks often have to happen simultaneously. While it's important to work as efficiently as possible, it's equally imperative to never let a customer feel unimportant. Handling phone calls and visitors requires you to prioritize tasks in such a way that no one feels neglected.

Simultaneous phone calls and visitors require you to stay calm and polite at all times, even when multitasking in an urgent way. One way of making this customer service easier for yourself is remaining efficient in your phone communications. Plan out what you need to say before making a call, and keep track of what calls occur when. This helps you know when your busiest times of the day are when you need multitasking skills the most.

Another key is remaining in control of the situation. People are notoriously bad at multitasking, so you are better to divide and conquer. If you are in the middle of a phone call and someone comes in that requires your time and attention, politely invite the person to sit down and assure the customer that you'll be right with him in just a moment. This buys you time to finish your phone call while not slacking on your customer service obligations.

If the person visiting requires urgent attention, politely ask the person on the phone to go on hold for a moment. People are more likely to comply when you offer customer service in a firm tone of voice that remains pleasant. If you have multiple calls coming in, answer each one and identify yourself or your business. Before you get a response, politely say "please hold" and put each caller on hold, getting to each one as quickly as you can. Obviously, follow any existing customer service policies in place that address these situations. However, you're often the traffic controller or the gatekeeper when you work in an administrative position. That means that you control the flow of people in the office and the communication flow. Own that responsibility and the authority that comes with that, because people will be looking to you for answers and for a sense of control.

Another key is to ask for help whenever you feel overwhelmed. Help may be in short supply in certain situations, but you put yourself in less stress by realizing that you are only one person, and you can only do so much. Respecting that fact helps you stay more relaxed when utilizing your multitasking skills, and this helps you deal with your tasks more efficiently with a clearer head by not judging yourself as everything is happening.

Clerical and administrative positions are often thankless jobs. However, these positions are vital for companies to succeed, because you are often the first point of contact for a person to your company. This is why good customer service is so important. Everything from your appearance to your voice gets associated with the customer's image of the company, so make the most of it.

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