Call me Eyes, because I work in an opticians. Bit of back story required: been there 3 1/2 years, started off with 5 other members of staff, things happened and for the last 6 months there's only been me and two other people. 5 days a week we've had two opticians in, and due to staff holidays and sickness, most days since January there's only been two of us working, meaning one person per optician.
This means a minimum of 25 patients a day, plus people coming in to book appointments, collect and order glasses and for repairs. On a busy day, this could reach 100+ people coming through the doors, and we have to speak to every single one of them, and take time to help them - could be two minutes to make an appointment or 30 minutes to dispense glasses. On top of this, people phone us to make appointments or check if their glasses are in or to discuss any problems. Some days the phone doesn't stop ringing, which is where my story comes from.
One day was one of the busy ones; me and my colleague were rushed off our feet, and the phone was ringing off the hook, but we were too busy to get to it. A customer comes in at possibly the quietest part of the day to cancel an appointment that he had booked for about 30 minutes after he came in. After happily canceling and rebooking for him, then he decides to rip into me, changing from custy to crusty.
Crusty: I was phoning for ages earlier.
Eyes: I'm sorry, sir, we have been very busy this morning.
Eyes: We have been with other customers since we opened this morning. Unfortunately, the phone gets put to one side.
Crusty: You must get customers call you all the time though.
Eyes: Yes we do, but -
Crusty: So you shouldn't ignore them. Your customers are important.
Eyes: But -
Crusty: I worked in retail for over twenty years, and I always answered the phone when it rang in my shop.
Eyes: (This is where I start to get a bit snappy) We've been with customers the whole time, sir. I don't feel it right to leave my customers who have made the effort to come down to see me to answer the phone.
Crusty: I think your customers will understand having to wait two minutes for you to pick up the phone.
Eyes: Sometimes a phone call can take ten minutes. If I was a customer, I wouldn't appreciate being left for someone to be on the phone for ten minutes. I would actually think it quite rude. People who call the shop can call back again without any problem. It's company policy to deal with customers in the shop first.
Crusty: Maybe you should reconsider your policies (WTF?!) Surely (and this is the kicker, the bit that made me scream at this crusty in my head) all of your money comes through your phone.
At this point, I just have to smile and shrug noncommittally and bid him farewell, burning up inside, a fire which could only be stopped by a nicotine fix (Naughty Eyes!)
I just wanted to vent a bit, but wanted some advice/opinions on this - if you work in a similar environment, what would you do? Would you answer the phone in a stupid-busy shop, or let it ring?
--Eyes signing out!