Harness the Power of Your Company’s Most Important Asset: the
By Marsha Lindquist
companies around the world, those in the reception role – whether it
be an office receptionist, a retail establishment greeter, an
airport counter clerk, or any other front line position—set the
stage for how customers view their entire experience with the
organization. In fact, in five seconds or less, the reception
person’s greeting, attitude, and words will either prompt customers
to investigate other options for their needs or will encourage them
to stay and do business with your firm.
Unfortunately, when asked about the reception person’s performance,
many managers shrug it off, stating such things as, “She’s fresh out
of school,” or “He’s just a $7 an hour worker…what do you expect?”
But just because someone is inexperienced or low-paid does not mean
he or she does not have to greet and treat customers appropriately.
is that the person who initially greets your customers is one of the
most important employees on staff. The initial greeter sets the tone
for the customer’s entire experience and can very easily be the
difference between your company losing customers or gaining lifelong
raving fans. If you want your reception position to be an income
generator, keep the following seven guidelines in mind.
Always have some sort of reception person. While you don’t
necessarily need to have a designated reception area, you do need to
have designated people who are the greeters and who deliver the
first impression to all your customers. Too many companies today
have client calls go straight to voicemail, or customers enter the
establishment and must find their own way around. All
consumer-oriented companies must get back to actually greeting
customers and having designated people to do precisely that.
Give your reception people an adequate orientation. Make sure
they know the company’s values and goals, and why customers deserve
to be treated a certain way. Bring your reception people into the
fold early and teach them how important their job really is. If you
simply tell them what to do—“seat people,” “answer phones,” or
“direct people to the appropriate associate”—but you don’t tell them
what’s behind those actions, you can’t expect to get the results you
want out of them.
Make sure the reception department’s manager observes his or her
staff in action. Realize that not everyone is going to get it
right the first time. That’s why you need to observe what the
reception people are doing and offer continuous feedback. If you
leave your front line workers on their own to “wing it,” you send
the message that what they’re doing doesn’t matter. However, by
doing regular observations and keeping in continuous communication
with your reception people, you reinforce the message that “your job
Get feedback from others, such as peers, vendors, and customers.
The feedback you receive on the reception department’s performance
must come from other sources than just the direct manager. If you
only get feedback from one source, then that person’s biases and
blind spots will distort the big picture. When you seek feedback
from outside sources, though, you fill in any gaps. So always ask
for feedback from others, and make sure your reception people know
that these other people will be offering their suggestions for
Invest heavily in training. In a consumer-oriented environment,
the best way to train new hires is by using the buddy system. That
is, team up your new hire with a veteran employee who can show the
new person “the ropes” of how things are done and why. Too often
companies give new employees a verbal overview of the job, a process
manual, and a job description, and then they expect the person to
thrive without any guided direction.
Offer kudos freely and often. During your training and
observations, give your front line workers pats on the back when
they’re doing a good job, especially early on. Very often those in
the reception roles feel overlooked. The more positive reinforcement
you can give, in the form of praise, awards, and encouragement, the
more you’ll see your reception people blossom and do things the way
Encourage creativity. Encourage your reception people to get
creative in developing new ways to make what they do interesting for
them and a positive experience for the customers. Help them feel a
bigger sense of belonging so their job is more than just a paycheck.
Remember, these people usually know the customer better than anyone
else, simply because they have the most interaction with customers.
So listen to what they have to say.
Your Mindset for Greater Profits: If you believe that hiring
people for the reception position is simply a matter of putting a
warm body in the role, then guess what…all you’ll get are warm
bodies. However, when you believe the reception position is crucial
to your company’s success, then the people in that role will believe
they are important as well and will work hard to make sure the
customer has a wonderful first impression of your company.
end, it all comes down to your front line workers treating customers
the way you’d want to be treated—with respect and appreciation. So
no matter what industry you’re in, get past the attitude that the
reception positions don’t matter. They do matter. Embrace the fact
that your reception people are the most important employees in the
entire company. That one simple attitude shift will change how
people perceive the job, and will dramatically improve your
company’s bottom line.
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about Marsha Lindquist.
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