“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…]

Great Photos … Taken by Us Amateurs

A “Focus” on Impeccability

8 Easy Tips for Taking Your Photos from Good to Great

Have you ever given your camera to someone, asked them to take a picture of you (and perhaps your significant other) only to watch them walk nearly a block away from you before snapping the shot? Okay, maybe a block is an exaggeration but I’ve noticed so many things we could all discover – very simple things – in order to take better shots.

Whether you’re taking photos for business use or pleasure, the following tips are designed to help you make the most of every shot.

1. Get a good zoom lens

The Magic of Zoom

Candid shots are the most admired and often complimented. Perhaps the magic lies in the innocence and authenticity. The further away you can get, the more candid your shots will be since your subjects are less likely to notice you and your camera.

Walk … don’t zoom: For non-candid shots it’s always better to get physically closer to your subject(s) than to do it artificially, via zoom. In other words, don’t walk away only to zoom in. (I see this all the time.)

What IS that?

2. Composition

Framing your shot properly means making sure it won’t look like a tree is coming out of someone’s head. Decide what subject  your main focus is upon, and then be sure you look further – above, below and beyond – to ensure there are no distractions or intrusions.

3. Don’t just smile … laugh

Don't smile ... LAUGH!

The photos that seem to get the most compliments aren’t usually the ones with the obligatory smile. It can be difficult for some people to smile without that smile looking contrived or forced. For an authentic smile that radiates joy every time, do something to make your subject laugh. Our friend Nancy likes to request that people say, “Fuzzy Pickles.” I like to make funny faces or speak in funny voices. Do whatever works for you.

4. Know when to turn off your flash

On most cameras, your flash will automatically fire when there’s not enough light. The problem is when you are trying to take a picture of something that is more than 20 feet away, since that’s about as far as your flash will reach. You end up with a well-lit foreground and darkened (or invisible) background. Be sure you know how to manually turn off your camera’s flash.

5. Use both hands (and the wrist lanyard)

Are you getting lots of blurry shots? There’s a good chance that you may be jerking the camera each time you press the button that snaps the photo. Use both hands for more stability and press slowly. Also, get into the habit of placing the [Read more…]

4 Tips on Adding Impact to Your Voicemail Greeting

How to optimize the most overlooked first-impression-maker

Have you ever heard a voicemail greeting that really impressed you? Wait. Do you remember anyone’s voicemail greeting? Do you even remember your own? Many people have told me that their voicemail greeting was recorded long ago and they can’t even remember what it says (what they said) anymore. Call your voicemail right now and listen to it with the ears of a prospective client. Would you do business with you? This often-overlooked, first impression maker can have impact (positive or negative)…

St. Louis Gateway ArchLast week, as I exited the Metro rail in St. Louis, I emerged from the underground station, lifted my head I was suddenly looking up at The Gateway Arch for the first time. This beautiful structure stood five blocks ahead of me and at 630 feet tall it was towering over the city, like a protector. As the sun shone brightly against its stainless steel exterior, I was awestruck. I had to get a closer look. I entered the underground museum at the base of The Arch, watched the “Making-of” movie, and then took the egg-shaped tram car to the top where I admired the city from 630 feet. Later, I gladly returned my feet to the grassy field that The Arch rests on, looked up and felt so inspired. I thought, “Wow – this is the perfect time to re-record my voicemail greeting.” So, while standing there, I tilted my head back, thought about the people that began this unprecedented project back in 1963, appreciated its beauty while taking it in, smiled from ear to ear and grabbed my phone …

Consider the fact that your voicemail greeting, in many cases, is your client’s very first impression of you as a person. More often than not, callers will hear your voicemail greeting before they [Read more…]