First impressions countYour company has already invested a great deal of time and money on promoting its values. These beliefs need to be re-enforced when your customers visit your premises for the first time – otherwise you’ll risk losing their business.
The first person they’re going to meet is your receptionist. Arguably, this makes them the most important resource your company owns. Every penny of your marketing budget will have been wasted if this initial encounter is anything less than positive.
A familiar scenario?Pretend for a moment that you’re a customer. Having entered the reception area, you approach the desk. The person behind it does not look up. From what you can see they appear to be reading a magazine and there’s a Styrofoam container on the desk that’s full of half-gnawed chicken wings.
Eventually you’re forced to announce your presence; and, when you do, the receptionist finally looks up. There’s no smile. Frankly, they look bored. It soon becomes clear they’re not going to ask you any questions, so you tell them your name and explain who you’re there to see.
With great reluctance, they pick up the phone and – in a bored voice – announce your arrival. Nervously, you eye the exit and start to wonder whether it isn’t too late to make your excuses and leave. Surely this can’t be the same company you read such a glowing review about online earlier that morning?
No second chancesIf your receptionist lacks the communication skills needed to create a good first impression, your customers will be forced to make certain assumptions about your business. For example, they’ll start to wonder how hard it’ll be to work with you. Is this surly, disinterested response what they have to look forward to if they call your office with a problem?
They’ll start to ask other questions too. If you don’t invest properly in your staff, then where else are you cutting corners? Is your product or service really going to deliver in line with the promotional blurb they saw on your website?
Once your customer starts thinking like this, the damage is already done. So, what can you do to prevent it from happening again in the future?
Questions you need to askYou know your receptionist’s listening skills are terrible and you’re aware of the underwhelming effect this is having on your customers. But have you stopped to ask yourself why this is happening and, just as importantly, what you can do to stop it? Maybe they lack experience, have become demotivated, or don’t understand what’s expected of them.
You’ve already tried to resolve the issue internally with additional coaching, remote monitoring, and one-to-ones; but none of these methods have worked and you’re fresh out of ideas.
Invest in their developmentBy sending your receptionist on a training course, you’ll be able to endow them with the skills they need to perform their job effectively – or simply enable them to find a fresh perspective that’ll help them to see their job in a more positive light. Either way, this modest investment will pay dividends in the long-term and will benefit not just your business, but the people who work for it, and the customers who buy your products or services.
What are your experiences with receptionists? Let us know in the comments below!