When an existing or new client (or most importantly, a potential client) calls in or visits your office, what is their first impression of your business? First impressions matter! Businesses big and small in any industry often share have a common first impression maker- their receptionist or front desk staff. They are your client’s first contact and often have the most frequent interaction with your business. It is essential to select and train the best qualified person for this important role in your business.
Here are a few things to look for and skills to cultivate in your reception and front desk staff:
How do you and other staff members feel when you enter the office? Are you greeted with a smile and a friendly verbal greeting? You are being greeted by the same person who greets your clients, what impression are they leaving you with? Ask other staff members the same question.
- How do you and other staff members feel when you call in to the office? How are you greeted? Is your call answered promptly? Are you transferred quickly? Are you put on hold for an unreasonable amount of time? Is there a helpful, friendly and professional voice on the other end of the line? Ask staff members and your clients how they feel their calls are handled.
- Appearance- Is your reception staff presenting the impression you want to leave with clients of the level of professionalism embodied by your office? If you and other staff members are wearing suits and you reception staff is wearing denim, are you presenting a cohesive image of professionalism throughout your office? Presenting a professional image is important. Appropriate grooming and attire are essential. Cleanliness and organization of the reception area is also essential. Do you see a clean orderly reception area when you enter?
- Clear concise speech- Do you have trouble understanding your reception staff? Both on the phone and in person, are you hearing a clear, cheerful and professional voice, or are you hearing rushed speech, slang and swear words? Do not assume that someone is more professional when interacting with clients than they are when interacting with you, their employer. Your front desk staff should also refrain from eating or drinking while monitoring the phones and greeting clients. Chewing gum should not be allowed.
- Patience and helpfulness- Make sure that your reception desk is up to the challenge of patience in all situations. We all have our bad days, but you do not want this conveyed to clients. Can you tell when your reception staff is having a bad day? If you can, then so can your clients. How does your reception staff interact with you when you are having a bad day? Are they being as patient and helpful as you expect them to be with a client who calls in when upset?
- Courtesy and respect- Is your reception staff treating you and the other employees with courtesy and respect? Ask your employees how they feel about the level of courtesy and respect that comes from reception. Each client needs to feel that they are the most important person to walk in or call in that day. Is that an impression your staff gets? Do they feel important when entering? Clients who interact with your office in person or on the phone deserve the full attention of the reception staff. In addition, other staff members should also be considerate of the front desk staff when they are on calls or greeting clients.
- A good way to investigate the impression being left by your reception staff is to ask friends or acquaintances who visit you in the office for the first time. Reception staff does not know they are not your clients, inquire about their treatment in your office! Assess the good and the items that need improvement.
- Promptness and responsiveness- Check to see that your reception staff is confirming to clients that their e-mails, faxes and messages are received and being handled by the appropriate person(s). Ask to be copied on these e-mails and informed of calls. These may be items that your front desk staff cannot personally attend to and resolve, but they can assure clients that action is being taken.
- Training and feedback- It is important to address any issues and concerns you have with your front desk staff. Address issues immediately as they arise and convey a clear and concise expectation of the change you would like to see and the timeline in which you would like to see that change occur. Additional training should be given to improve skills and refine qualities that will make your front desk staff the best they can be. Weekly administrative meetings and quarterly reviews are helpful ways to constantly address issues, provide feedback and set goals for your team member. Most importantly, positive feedback when you see something that is being done well is always encouraging and is the best form of reinforcement training that you can give.
For any assistance with review and training of your staff, Allen Barron, Inc. offers management and advisory services, including business assessments, reviews and planning to increase the productivity and efficiency of your business. Please give our front office team members a call at 866-631-3470 to schedule a complimentary, initial consultation with one of our consulting professionals. Please feel free to give us feedback on how we serve you when you call in!