Here is one of the most overlooked employees in most businesses today.
There are many customer contact points we could discuss but to me one of the most important ones and the most overlooked one is who is answering your phone. This is the first impression someone gets of your staff and how they will be treated when they arrive.
In some instances, companies put the lowest paid person in this position. They feel that this is not an important job and anyone can do it. WRONG!
If you only care that the phone gets answered then please just by an IVR. Customers want to speak to someone and this someone had better be pleasant, polite, efficient and knowledgeable.
I can already hear it, “How knowledgeable do they need to be?”
Enough to know who is in charge of each department, be able to understand the business in case someone asks a simple question and know what specials are going on currently. They do not need to solve many problems but having someone who sounds as if they do not even know their own company is a negative impression right from the start.
Where this employee has the biggest impact is when a customer gets onsite.
We have all been to businesses where the receptionist does not even notice we are there, or ignores us (after we see they notice that we are there), or does not look at us when they speak. How do you feel when that happens? I know I feel like a number or that I am not important.
If you do not teach customer service training to you staff, you leave it up to them to decide what is the correct level of service to deliver, which may be below what you demand.
10 things that Receptionists need to be trained on: (Yes Trained on)
1. Stop what they are doing and greet the customer with eye contact.
2. Focus totally on them as they ask questions.
3. Listen for the answers the customer gives to questions.
4. If you have to take a call, excuse yourself, put the call on hold and go back to the customer in front of you.
5. Be polite when telling the customer they may have to wait and give them a time frame of how long they may have to wait.
6. Show them where to wait.
7. Offer them something to drink (if applicable)
8. Let them know where the restrooms are.
9. Thanks them for their time as the leave.
10. Tell them to “Please come again”
Take the time to demonstrate what you expect and then take the time to go back and monitor what your receptionist is doing. Do not fall into the trap of “not having enough time” or “they seem like they are a nice person”.
Customers have such a wide variety of choices of where to shop that every misstep that happens onsite pushes customers to your competitors.
Your receptionist sets the tone from the start that your business cares about people, that every customer is important and that you are there to serve.
Focus on training your front line staff to deliver that level of customer service and you are on your way to logging more sales, getting more customers to go online to preach about your service and begin the cycle of referral and repeat business.