First Impressions – Receptionist Training



A new client has been referred to you and he rings your office.  He is looking for a new and trusted provider.   You’re not available, so he talks to your receptionist. What is his initial impression of your company?

New clients come in for a meeting with you. Your receptionist greets them, settles them down to wait, offers them coffee. They haven’t met anyone else from your company yet, but they have already developed an opinion of your company.  Is it positive or negative?

A prospective client rings looking for help, which could potentially lead to a large order and ongoing business with your company. She got your companies name off the Internet. She asks your receptionist for some background information and who she should talk to. Even before she talks to anyone, does she sense she has made a good choice?

Marketers tell us several things about first impressions. Positive or negative impressions are formed within seconds. They are based on feelings, not reasons or objective observations. An initial impression is easily reinforced, but very hard to dislodge. A poor first impression can doom a relationship, irrespective of good performance, while a good one can preserve it through considerable adversity.

In any business, the first and ongoing impressions of many clients are based on their interactions with your receptionist. A good receptionist is a key element in a company’s success. Think about it. How many people base their mental picture of your company primarily or even exclusively on their telephone interactions with your receptionist? How many clients see your receptionist as often as they see you? What impression does your receptionist make on people?

Receptionists face different stresses from secretaries and other staff, so they need different personality traits. It’s easy to make a mistake here. Many companies view the receptionist as an entry-level position that could lead to other, “real” work. The position therefore has low prestige and often high turnover. The receptionist is often the newest and least experienced staff member and seldom know management, the clients or the work of the company.

One such client of ours surveyed its customers and found that they were very critical about how the receptionist function was handled. The company hired someone new, but still got negative feedback.

So they tried again, but this time they took the clerical work out of the job description. They also increased the salary. Then they hired someone who wanted to be a receptionist, not a secretary. And they trained her.  Now they get rave reviews from customers who feel they have a provider who cares about them.

It took a while, but management finally recognised the importance of the person who swings the gate open and welcomes the people in. Do you?