The Most Important Person in Your Company?

Who is the most important person in your company?

Hint: It’s not the CEO, the CFO or even the CMO.

It’s the receptionist.

Come again? You heard me.

The receptionist. The person that greets people as they enter your office or when they call on the phone is the person who sets the tone for what the brand is about.

They are one of the most important people you can hire. And they are the first person you should fire if they are not embodying your brand values.

If you are considering hiring a company, or perhaps working there, spend a few minutes lingering in the reception area. I guarantee you will learn more in a few minutes than you would during hours of pitches or interviews.

A few weeks ago during my first visit to a particular agency I had an experience

that really brought this home. I took the elevator up to the assigned floor, pressed the buzzer, opened the typical glass door and then was greeted by a smiling young woman.

What’s special about that you ask?

Well this young woman stood up, held out her hand to shake, greeted me by name and even made a comment about my blog (one that showed she really read the content).

I thought good on her, and good on her managers who clearly recognized her role as brand ambassador.

I don’t know if she gets a briefing each day on expected visitors or that she acts on her own initiative to find it out. It doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that by these simple gestures and in the space of one minute she set the tone for my visit. I felt like I was being truly welcomed and not just “signed in”. And I believed the agency during the capabilities presentation when they gave me the standard rhetoric about “valuing people and building brand culture”.

Because I  had felt it, first hand.

The other side of this issue is having the courage, commitment and decisiveness to get rid of receptionists that don’t reflect the brand values.

Frequently, I come across front of house personnel that give off negative energy, or can’t really be bothered to look up from their book or Face Book page to look me in the eye and say hello.

I’m sure the people who are in charge of these companies are aware of the issue, but perhaps they can’t be bothered to do something about it. Maybe they feel they have bigger fish to fry then dealing with a mediocre receptionist.

But who is more important in the company than the individual who sets in motion the brand experience?

I say no one.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

I’d love to hear your receptionist experiences, good and bad.


7 thoughts on “The Most Important Person in Your Company?

  1. Completely agree with you! It’s also been a dead giveaway for me when interviewing. You’ll know pretty quickly whether or not you want to work for a company when you meet their receptionist. I had an interview just a few weeks back where the cons piled up quickly. The directions the HR person gave me weren’t great, which brought me to the back door of a large corporate campus in 90 degree weather and I had to hoof it around the campus to get to the front. Then, their receptionist barely looked at me while she gabbed on the phone to her sister about their family barbecue. I actually had to say “Excuse me.” I knew at that moment that this was a company I couldn’t work for, and I was right. The rest of the interview only reinforced it.

  2. @Marcy thanks for a great comment and so glad you dodged that bullet. Sounds like a pretty miserable (and hot) day, but better to spend one terrible day then commit to a few terrible years!

  3. I totally agree with you.

    In our case our Yoganistas on the floor really need to be ultra sociable and have a super personality. Snoby service is out and so boring anyways! I think customers appreciate authenticity and honesty.

    1. @divineyoganista I agree with you, now more than ever, authenticity is key. BTW I love the “yoganista” term. Thanks for commenting.


  4. It’s interesting how you suggest that the receptionist should be fired if they aren’t promoting the brand.
    I would argue that it should be the manager that hired and trained her/him.

    I agree that the receptionist or whoever makes first contact with customers are the most important people in brand promotion.

    And they are probably the least respected people in most companies. Particularly by their managers.

    Time and time again I have witnessed managers complain about receptionists because they spend to much time “chatting” with the public. The customers love them and their managers just see the social, friendly displays as a waste of time. As a manager I wasn’t any different. To me the receptionists seemed to be sitting around all day doing nothing but talking.

    As a staff in a customer service field I quickly learned (from watching other staff) that something as simple as saying “hello” to people as they walked through the door led to increased customer retention and increased sales.

    In most business’s receptionists, like everyone else, are taught to do “tasks” because managers are task oriented people. In my personal experience I wasn’t taught to do anything for the customers. I was taught how to clean, close the business, etc.
    When I spoke to my manager about a business issue he spoke about “bottom line” and “profit” not about customer service.

    Perhaps this is why most staff think their manager is a dick (or jane)
    And perhaps this is one of the reasons staff quit trying after a short time..

  5. @Glen I think you raise a very valid point. For the receptionist to effectively act as Brand Ambassador they need a manager who buys into this and clearly lays this out as part of the job description. I think many opportunities go sour in the first 30 days (not just reception) because Management doesn’t spend the important time to explain and align on job expectations and to give clear and timely feedback. It always amazes me how much time companies spend to find the right people, and then basically abandon them once they are in the door. Thanks for your comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *