Free Customer Service Book Excerpt – When A Customer Interrupts

When a Customer Interrupts a Discussion Between the Employee and Another Customer


You may face a situation where you are helping one customer and a second customer rushes up and interrupts your conversation. It may appear that you are caught between a rock and a hard place, since if you serve the first customer, the second may become annoyed, and if you serve the second one, the first customer, quite justifiably, may feel you are not treating him or her as important.

In this situation we’ll describe a single technique the “stop sign-nonverbal” tactic.


Stop sign-nonverbal (1)


In a retail store, the employee has been talking with a primary customer for three or four minutes. All of a sudden, a second customer rushes up and interrupts the conversation.

Second Customer: Excuse me, but can you tell me who I need to talk to about returning some merchandise?

Employee: [turns to the second customer, makes eye contact, and holds up hand at about a 45-degree angle toward the second customer] I can help you in just a moment or you can go to the service desk. [The employee then breaks eye contact and returns to the first customer.] (1)


The first priority is always the customer with whom you’re interacting. The key is to limit your interaction with the interrupting customer, so it’s as brief as possible. That’s why the employee uses a very short sentence and then immediately returns his attention to the first customer, indicating this by shifting eye contact.

Author: Robert Bacal

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