Articles By Hal
Who Is The Most Important Person in the Office?
Receptionist sets tone for all your employees
At Your Service
By Hal Becker
So who do you think is the most important person in your
office? If you answered yourself, deduct two points and then go look for a dose of
Right up front, point person, numero uno, supreme
commander, the holiness who rules the office, yes, we are talking about your receptionist.
This is the key ingredient to the office that lives and breathes customer service when
compared to all the other ones that just say they believe in it or say they give
It amazes me how so many companies go on and on about how
good they are or how much they believe in service. Then what do they do? They cut out the
most important person, the receptionist, and replace that with the voice-mail
You heard me right. If you have voice mail to replace your
receptionist, you dont get it! I know I have heard all the excuses, but bottom line
is that your customers want the receptionist. Isnt that what is really important;
what your customers want?
Dont get me wrong, I love voice mail, but I would
much rather have a pleasant voice answer the phone. After that, then I can say, Can
you connect me to their voice mail?
I recently gave a speech for Inc. magazines annual
customer service conference, and I asked the audience (people from all over the world) how
many of you hate it when you get voice mail instead of the receptionist? At least 75
percent of the people raised their hands to let me know their frustration level. My next
question was, how many of your companies rely only on voice mail? You could see them all
look around the room. They were pretty embarrassed and they all got the point.
You still dont believe me? Think of two companies
known for their customer service. Call them and see what you get. If you cant come
up with two companies (since there are so few really exceptional companies that are known
for their service) Ill help you out. Call any Ritz Carlton Hotel or a Nordstrom
Department store and just listen to how the phone is answered. Then think about how it
makes you feel.
Now lets get down to business. What are traits you
should look for and how do you go about finding that perfect person? However, I must first
tell you that I have never hired one myself. Being an author and speaker, I really
dont need one in my house, even though it would be nice to have someone to screen
all those pesky solicitations.
Heres what I like to hear or what really impresses me
when I call a business:
- Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm.
Do you get the point?
- Good attitude. Good attitude. Good attitude. Good attitude.
Good attitude. Good attitude. Are you getting it yet?
- Someone who likes to have fun.
- Someone who is reliable.
- Someone who can think on his or her feet.
- A take-charge person.
- Someone with a good sense of humor.
- Someone with a pleasant voice.
- Someone who doesnt seem to be doing you a favor just
by answering the phone.
- Someone who is willing to do a little extra. Someone who is
willing to page the person you are looking for instead of saying, Im sorry
they are away from their desk. Maybe the receptionist would actually find the person
just like the good old days in the 1980s and before.
- Sincere. Sincere. Sincere. Sincere. Sincere. I know
youve got it now!
Obviously, when hiring this dynamo you need to have good
interviewing skills and you dont have to ask, Have you ever answered a phone
or know how to use one? When you find the right person to hire, you will feel
it in your gut. It will be someone who understands life and is enjoying it. This person
will be a people person, someone you would like to have over for dinner. This person is
The receptionist sets the tone for all of your employees.
This person also creates the first impression for anyone who calls your office. Sure,
automation is great, but sometimes we get impersonal just to save a few bucks or to make
it more convenient for us. The final result is that the customer loses or becomes not as
Remember, everyone loves to feel important and the best
place to start making someone feel important is right at the beginning, with the first
person the customer has contact with. Thats right, the all-too-important
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