“She’s just the receptionist”

Is this the biggest misconception in business?

A friend called me this week, excited to share that he’d just visited a new client’s office and the exceptional receptionist at this company … wasn’t labeled as one. Instead, her name placard read, “Director of First Impressions.”

When I was in sales, some of my colleagues chose to list only their cell phone numbers on their business cards. The reason? They felt no one was better equipped to handle incoming calls from prospects and clients – and make that all-important first impression – than them. In other words, they were fearful of putting their potential commission in the hands of (what they may have believed to be) a low-wage, low-stakes and under-appreciated receptionist.

The most successful business owners and leaders, though, know the truth:

  • Many business owners don’t pay receptionists enough – the position is often thought of as little more than a minimum-wage role
  • Leaders (and the receptionists themselves) don’t see just how important their job really is
  • Customer experience training is lackluster or – worse – nonexistent
  • Most of us (bosses, co-workers and customers alike) aren’t taking the time to simply acknowledge receptionists as smart, important and valued human beings

That said, when I receive great service from an operator, receptionist, desk clerk or cashier I like to let them know what a positive difference they’re making. After all, how else will they know for sure; continue to do the right thing for others?

An ode to the receptionist …

When you acknowledge me and maintain eye contact …
I feel like I’m more important to you than your computer screen, your smartphone, office gossip or whatever task you were in the middle of. We’ve gotten off on the right foot and your favorable first impression has set the tone for our time together, however long or short it may be.

When you smile (sincerely) …
I feel welcome and believe that you enjoy what you’re doing; you’re clearly a people person and you’re ready to help me. Your company knew exactly what they were doing when they put you in that position. (Note: I can even hear your smile over the phone; we all can.) By the way, I’m likely to smile back, making this simple act a great investment – in other words, treat me kindly and I’m more likely to reciprocate and even forgive any shortcomings.

When I hear you say more than “mepya” (fast for, “May I help you?”) when you answer the phone …
I don’t have to ask if I have reached the right place. And you don’t have to get frustrated over [Read more…]

Do your clients feel connected to you?

Impeccable Client Engagement
Staying Connected and Engaged

massageMy wife, Maggie, and I enjoy the occasional professional massage. We’ve visited many different service providers over the years – everything from the local Groupon massage referral … to a honeymoon couple’s massage on the beaches of Roatan Island – and we’ve observed that not all practitioners are created (trained) equally.

One specific thing we’ve noticed is that while some massage therapists do a wonderful job of staying connected to you during your massage, others may leave you feeling a little disconnected. I’ll explain…

I’ve recently learned that the professionals are taught to practice something really special and quite effective. They’re trained to keep at least one hand on you at all times, no matter what. This would explain why many of them keep a holster of massage oil on their hip, instead of a side table or storage cart, which could end up out of reach. Think about it. Here you are, face down, eyes closed, treating yourself to a luxury – all while putting your trust “in the hands” of a professional.

This “one-hand-at-all-times” best practice is what maintains that trust; it keeps you feeling connected and engaged – both physically and emotionally.

Your clients should be receiving the same treatment. Of course, you don’t necessarily have to make a physical connection but some form of ongoing engagement is important. More than keeping your name and face in front of your clients and prospects, this is about engineering ongoing experiences that exceed expectations. And there are bonus points for creativity …

One Valentine’s Day, I opened my mailbox to find [Read more…]