Why the reception is the most important department in your company?
How many times have you visited a company and you didn’t feel very welcomed, starting by the company receptionist? I am sure it happened to you many times. In my opinion, the first 5 minutes that your client is in touch with your company are the most important and is the breaking point in their buying decision. A good customer experience is delivered from the very first second of contact throughout the end, and you must make sure that your entire team is well trained to provide the best customer experience ever.
All the individuals working for Vertice Services, with no exception, and no matter what is their position, started their career working in our company reception. The reason being is simple to explain: If a new individual working for our organization is not able to deal with our clients on a daily basis and is not able to deal with many different clients’ enquiries, as well as a few complaints (even though complaints happen rarely), probably this person will not be able to fit into our company culture.
We are 100% customer oriented and my advice is that your company should also be. I have learned more from Vertice Services reception than from any other company. Having an energetic and proactive receptionist can impact hugely your company sales on the positive way.
The receptionist must be very patient. I regularly call the reception personally to ask if everything is all right and if there is any complaint. You should have the same habit if you want to have a successful business and it only takes 5 minutes from your time.
From my point of view, whenever possible, the first employee of any start up should be a very good receptionist with administration skills. This profile of a new employee will save you time and money, and will let you allocate your time in what you do best. In an analogy, a good receptionist is the bus driver of your organization. She or he is the one who will make sure your clients get what they expect from your business, starting from the waiting time in the reception, for example. And will be also responsible to ensure that the passengers of your bus (aka your clients) never miss the bus. Your bus must always be full and if the driver is not always driving happily and patiently, the whole atmosphere is broken, causing the passengers to feel uncomfortable and unhappy.That’s why you should make sure you employ the best bus driver for your company.
I know it may sound a bit overreacting, but just as an example, our Customer Service Manager has many tasks such as:
1) Answering client calls
2) Handling the company website live chat enquiries
3) Giving support to clients filling up their customer registration form.It means to give proper support to the client to make sure they fill in the application properly, and not only handling the form to the client.
4) Distributing general emails to each respective department
5) Call all the clients in order to confirm their appointment
6) Send text messages to the clients to remind them about their appointment day and time
7) Manage the delivery of all the mail or parcels
8) Provide cabs to clients when requested
9) Answering voice mail messages in the first hour of the working day
10) Book appointments for other staff members
11) Responsible for the main email contact such as email@example.com
12) Check emails from web forms
13) Answering general company Skype calls
Now, as I already mentioned, you should be a customer oriented driven company and, given the importance of this role, I personally dislike the word “receptionist”. The title “receptionist” is attributed to the person who is employed by an organization to receive or greet any clients and answer telephone calls. I hate this definition. This is the reason our receptionist is called Customer Service manager and their role in the organisation is to make sure that a high-quality customer service is delivered at all times, no matter through which channel this approach is achieved: email, telephone, website online chat, personal visit or social media.
Obviously, the tasks described above are only an illustrative example. The customer service manager tasks might be different, according to the size and workflow of your organisation. If the company is smaller, it is very common that the customer service manager will also be responsible for some administration and financial tasks, such as getting new clients into the company CRM software, accounts payable and accounts receivable, bank reconciliation, buying stationery, managing third party suppliers (both for services and products), etc.
On top of that, here at Vertice Services, the customer service manager undertakes other two very important tasks: the complaints department and the client feedback analysis. These are important in order to guarantee that we will provide other new services that our clients need and want us to provide, and also to resolve all the company complaints – even though this happens rarely at Vertice Services.
Now, you wonder how you could change the Customer Service Manager position without losing the customer service level provided to your clients? The answer is: apart from finding the right person, having a good Customer Service Manual and an effective training are paramount. A good Customer Service Manager should also be able to have the power to make any decision they need, as long as it is beneficial to the client. Your company should be customer oriented, as well as a learning organization. The individual moving into a new role must be able to teach the next candidate taking their place. If they are not good at teaching or at least having patience to teach the new candidate, they will not last a long time in our organization. The only way to grow your company is having people who are happy to teach and share knowledge in general with each other.
Another common question is: should you hire a person to work in house or should you choose the service of a virtual receptionist? In my opinion, it all depends on your needs and what you are expecting from the individual. Are you expecting to contract these services temporarily or not? Are you expecting a receptionist to deal with the clients personally or not?
In the companies I am involved in, I only opt for a virtual receptionist instead of an in-house employee when I believe that an in-house individual will not make any difference – and that is extremely odd. Making notes of calls and managing your daily schedule is one thing, dealing with the clients with total care is another thing. In my point of view, the main difference between having virtual help is: that an individual who is not personally present in your premises will never get the atmosphere and synergy of your work environment, and this eventually stops this person from understanding and feeling everything that is happening inside the organization. It simply breaks the connection.
Your receptionist and assistant have the responsibility to share follow up and give feedback to all the other employees and, as the company grows, it will be easier to give training to this person to work in a different role as they have organically become part of the organisation and already understand what is the company culture, goals and mission.It is also about giving a career opportunity to someone internally rather than contracting a new person externally.
Have you chosen carefully the bus driver in your organization? I hope if you haven’t, from now on you will.