What are your staff communicating about your organisation…?
You’re probably wondering what the relevance of this building is – well bear with me. We’ve all been through the experience that I had recently – and all too often.
I was doing some training with a client in central London and arrived at a very smart glass clad building near Liverpool Street, (the photo doesn’t do it justice!). The lobby was bright, very high tech and welcoming…. until I got to the rather ironically called “Welcome Desk”.
Slouched on a swivel chair was the most uninterested and unfriendly face you could imagine. Eventually the receptionist looked up from her computer screen and greeted me with a “Yes?” It was delivered in one of those rather patronising tones that makes you question whether you should even be in such a prestigious building. It turned out my name wasn’t on any list she had, so her way of dealing with this challenge was to give me a blank look as if to say “your problem – you’d better sort it out.” I asked her if she could call my client’s office and check with them. Rather grudgingly she agreed and the problem was soon ironed out and reluctantly she allowed me to proceed.
Now, I appreciate she was probably working for the facilities management company, and like all of us she may have been having a tough day. However, if that was my company she was representing and I was trying to create a positive impression for my clients, I wouldn’t have been at all happy. Imagine the effect that encounter could have had on a client considering an important deal. I just don’t understand why training front-line staff like receptionists, isn’t given the priority it should. We all know about the importance of first and last impressions, yet something as basic as a friendly and welcoming greeting doesn’t happen in one of the most important places; an organisation’s reception desk.
Now on to the good news!
The following day I was back in London for another meeting and had a very different experience on my way there. I was on the platform of my local train station where I met a member of staff from GWR (Great Western Railway). As I walked along the platform the staff member called Sherrilyn, greeted me with a huge smile and the friendliest “Good Morning”. It might not seem a big deal, but it did make a difference to me, and it started off my day feeling a lot more positive. After we chatted for a while, I thanked her for such great service, and when I said I’d be writing about the experience, I asked if I could take her photo…she was delighted! I was also keen to ensure she was recognised by her management, so when I tweeted about this, GWR replied within 3 seconds! They said they would thank her personally, so knowing she was appreciated will hopefully make Sherrilyn’s day too.
As another Sherilynn says, this time the author Sherrilynn Kenyon, “It is sometimes difficult to get rid of first impressions”, so how much better to consider a quote from J.K. Rowling – “A good first impression can work wonders”.
We shouldn’t underestimate the difference a first impression can have. It’s not complicated, it just comes down to making sure the right people are in the right jobs and then get the right training. So, are your front-line staff are creating a positive first impression and communicating what you want them to, or are they just paying lip service to this very important form of communication?
And if they or anyone else is making a great first impression – let them and their bosses know… as I’m sure you’d like to hear it…