Here are some tips on how to make a great first impression with your customers.
Having spent three months searching for a company that could actually deliver on the product I was searching for, I finally secured an interview with the account manager of a large international company.
On the day of the meeting, I arrived early and climbed the thirteen or so marble steps to the plush revolving door leading to a spacious foyer.
Behind the front desk was a gum-chewing, droopey-eyed receptionist.
She had her chin propped up by resting it in her hand with her elbow planted firmly on the top of the desk.
She must have had a late night and I was concerned for the precariousness of her face which would surely have smashed the customer counter to pieces, should she have lost the grip on her chin!
As I approached the desk, she grunted (without raising her head for fear that it might not stay up by itself) and said “c’n I ‘elp ‘ya?”. I introduced myself and asked for the person I wanted to see.
Through the emulsion of her chewing gum, and without cracking the slightest inkling of a smile, she spat “si’ down ‘n’ I’ll get ‘im f’ ya”.
She may as well have saved her flagging energy, because by this stage I had already decided to purchase one of the other products, despite the fact that it didn’t quite suit my needs.
I find it astounding that any manager would not choose the absolute best person for front desk work. This person is your “Manager of First Impressions”. The way this person treats your potential customers can be the difference between keeping a customer and losing one (or more after they have spread the word to their friends).
Here are some front desk tips to ensure your customers get the best “first impression”:
1. Never, ever chew gum. It shows contempt for your customer.
2. No matter how lousy you feel, smile – it’s not going to kill you. Your customer may feel lousy too, and a smile and warm greeting from you may be the very thing they need right now
3. Remember that every customer who walks through your door should be the most important thing that has happened to you all day. Treat them like they are!
4. Even if you’re busy when the customer arrives, acknowledge their presence and let them know you’ll be with them shortly. There’s nothing worse than being ignored when you arrive and made to feel like you are a secondary consideration to the important task at hand. The person on the other end of the phone isn’t going to hang up on you because you take a second to greet a customer.
5. If the customer needs to wait, check whether they would like anything (like tea or coffee).
6. Engage your customer in chit-chat, but don’t drive them crazy with your life story or that latest information about your surgery or health.
7. Learn to love your customers and enjoy having them around. Nothing will drive customers away faster than if you act or look bored. Whether you think the customer is important or not, they think they are. Don’t insult them by treating them like they’re not!
8. If a customer comments on the beautiful weather, never reply with “Yeah, too nice to be at work”! Such comments reflect badly on the company ethos and make the customer feel like they have just wrecked your day by being a customer.
Instead of just putting anyone on front desk duties, look for your best person and pay them well. Having them there will be the greatest asset your company can buy.
About the Author
Barry R Knights writes for ARBDS – (Australian Regional Business Development Specialists) Building Strong Organisations.