I read this blog recently about multi-tasking in customer service.  I generally agree with it when the tasks are widely differing – I wouldn’t want a customer service advisor to be trying to take their lunch and talk me through a problem with my order at the same time. But when the tasks are similar in nature, I do expect a level of multi-tasking.  Filling in form fields whilst talking to me, annotating my case notes whilst listening to me, talking me through a product whilst using the product (in the case of a product problem).

One of the key contributors to a customer service agent being able multi-task well is audio quality. Example here from an audio transcribing company.  The better the audio quality, the less the agent will need to concentrate on it, and the more they can apply themselves to other tasks.

This isn’t just about the headset, although a headset with great audio quality will obviously help.  Its also about the background noise within the contact centre – if this is too high, then multi-tasking becomes more difficult. Technologies such as absorbtion, blocking and control of background noise can really help improve productivity. 

So I think you can multi-task, but only when the environment is set-up to help you do this.