The Front Desk and Receptionist are the first points all customers encounter on visits to your office. Then shouldn’t it be the most friendly and efficient point of your company? They are very important to your business and not simply a “receptionist” but a manager with public relations duties.
Well, let’s look at this important little word “Efficiency”.
By definition it means “The accomplishment of, or ability to accomplish a job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort.”
I think you’ll agree that it would make good sense for every person assigned to such a position of the entrance point to your company to know and fully understand this definition or concept as their primary goal.
Most of you could also agree on the value of entering a business and addressing a customer not only with a smile, but also by name as pretty darn sensational. It doesn’t matter if it’s a customer’s 1st or 50th visit, the above applies equally sensational to all. Upon leaving they would also be thanked for coming by name and a “have a great afternoon”, etc. as a friendly and professional valediction – (the greeting given to a person upon leaving).
All customers should instantly feel it’s a friendly and welcoming environment. These first and last impressions make one want to come back and your company well thought of.
How does efficiency enter into all this? Well… Does the receptionist greet the customer instantly or only after several other things are done? Is the greeting done with eye contact or while the receptionist is looking at her computer screen? Is the greeting and valediction believable or is it merely a compulsive communication?
Things can sometimes go awry in any practice, but there are easy and efficient fixes!
1) The customer walks in for their appointment late / cancels their appointment:
Never allow anyone handling your customers to be rude, ever. Of course there may be times it may appear annoying, but one must always keep their cool and always respect the customer.
HANDLING: Acknowledge either instance with the fact that you’re glad they made it and will work to fit them in, or, sorry they couldn’t make it, let’s get you rescheduled.
Very gently refresh them on the Late/Cancellation policies and ensure they understand these. Give them a very, very light “first warning.” (You can also make note of this in their chart/file.)
2) The Front Desk person doesn’t call, email, or text to confirm appointments for the next day.
Most of your customers lead busy lives, of this you can be assured! While your Front Desk person might think it annoying to consistently remind them, in all truth, about 90% of your customers will see this as a valued and helpful action. It not only demonstrates your care and professionalism, but may also just be the right opportunity for some good old-fashioned friendly PR. The friendlier your manner in dealing with them, the better PR you’ve generated for the company and its future!
3) The Front Desk person procrastinates and doesn’t complete the required paperwork needed on a daily basis, leaving a huge stack to be done at the end of the week.
This may develop into new problems:
- Upon reviewing a customer’s file there won’t be up-to-date information.
- The front desk has unfilled papers which may be viewed as disorganized and unprofessional.
- Your receptionist starts the new week with last week’s undone filing; He/she starts each new week already being “behind”.
This can end up being the beginning of “work-related stress” and should be removed from the normal routine in the workplace. Something piled up will hold one’s attention until it is handled, and if let go too long will begin to gnaw at the person responsible.
4) The Front Desk person forgets to set future appointments.
HUGE mistake! It’s much easier to assist a client to commit to a future appointment while they’re in-house and in front of you. Do EVERYTHING you can to get this accomplished in-house, otherwise, once that customer leaves you might be playing the game of phone tag, making many calls to contact them for a new date and time. Do this in-house!
Add it to your internal company policy: the Front Desk will do this with EVERY patient. You might have them track the % of clients with future appointments set on a weekly basis. Ideally, one would maintain this at 90%, but always striving for 100%!
These are several ways Efficiency can work in your favor and how it might be improved at the Front Desk, the primary entrance, exit, and PR point for your business. Make it standard policy to practice these actions using different customer scenarios until these various handlings become the new normal routine with your Front Desk.
Craig Ferreira, CEO Survival Strategies Inc.