Customer service advocates often focus on how employees should interact with a customer. What should they say? What should their policies be? What level of authority do they have to fix problems? These are the questions we often talk about with customer service. But I think there is another one that goes with them that isn't asked enough – What can they do to speed up the process? My answer is that employees need to cross train on customer service.
Have you ever stood in line at a busy fast food restaurant with one cashier? Sometimes the people who put the orders together will just be standing around waiting because they are only getting one order at a time. Why not jump on a register and ease that line congestion a little bit? They either aren't trained to use the register, or they aren't trained to recognize what is causing the service bottleneck.
Government agencies are the worst about this. I've stood in line to register a new vehicle or get a new drivers license while managers who I assume are capable of helping out sit and click on a computer. I know they have stuff to do. I managed a restaurant years ago and I had paperwork, deposits, inventory, and all that stuff to worry about. But if we were busy, I was helping out. That other stuff can be done later.
One bad experience and a customer may never come back. Too many retail and restaurant establishments provide a positive experience in every way but one – they make you wait too long. Cross train your employees. No matter what business you are in, it will always help for them to see how other jobs function and how their role fits within the larger system. And they may be able to help out from time to time. Your customers will thank you for that.