Receptionists, or ‘Gatekeepers’ as they are affectionately known, can enhance a company’s image; a paragon of professionalism, a warm welcome to your brand, a helpful guide to finding the right person within the workings of large corporations or a friendly voice at the end of the phone. These people can be the audible concierge that reinforces business relationships or act as a conduit for future investment.
However there is a flip side to this perfect incarnation of the welcome wagon and unfortunately it is becoming increasingly prevalent as time trundles on. The ‘Bad Receptionist’ – the inflated ego with a chip on their shoulder, the brusque and often downright rude voice of companies that have failed to grasp that you get one chance to make a first impression. These people are your brand diplomats; they are totems of your professionalism, your outlook and business savvy.
Yet so many companies don’t seem to understand that by having a battle-axe on the front desk, one who won’t pass on calls, won’t give out information or won’t even give a modicum of warmth in their greeting with you, means that the image of their company is tarnished. You become the company with that rude harridan on reception, the one that argues with perfect strangers, the one who hangs up on people who have the temerity to ask why they can’t be put through to a department, or why they should send a letter (welcome to the 21st Century) or email to a completely separate entity than the one that they need to speak to.
It’s because they get a lot of cold calls right? Maybe someone should remind these same people that every business relationship at some stage or other has started with a cold call. A cold call by its very definition is a call to a person that you have not spoken to before. Are we to believe that the multi-billion pound global economy was founded on the simple premise that a few people who all knew each other had the fortune to meet face to face? Of course not.
New business enquiries are a part of business. They are just as much a part of business as meetings are, or faxes, emails, corporate hospitality days, fancy dinners and executive car parking spaces. These calls are the life blood of business. Business requires a symbiotic outlook, lest the big fish realise that they haven’t hired the greatest creative minds in the country. If they did, they’d realise that the great minds in this world don’t work for large organisations. The great minds are usually the ones who create ideas and innovation and the only way you get to speak to them is if they can get past your receptionist.
In these trying times, business will rise and fall on innovation. It would be a shame if your salvation should be put off ever approaching you again because your receptionist thinks she is the CEO. Projects may cost an arm and a leg but manners cost nothing. A relatively small price to pay don’t you think?
Hello Richard – Sounds like you’ve had a rough ride recently.
We all know gatekeepers are simply doing the job they are employed to do. We must try not to take it personally when we get a rough deal.
What has increased over recent years is the frequent use of voice-mail to field calls. That’s where a well practiced, well thought out “bar stall intro” is a must.
Personally I can’t stand misleading messages. Left on a voice-mail or via switchboard. The same examples usually practiced by sales callers that say they’re one thing and they’re obviously not.
I’m in a sales capacity still and I take ever call. Although I have no long lost relatives in outer Mongolia I promise.
The Black & White Agency
(25 yrs – sales & marketing)