Article : Tune In For Great Reception
The true value of good reception staff is hard to quantify. After all, how do you put a tangible figure on helpfulness, courtesy and efficiency? But it is no exaggeration to say that any business underestimating the importance of front-desk personnel – and ignoring the fact that reception acts as an extension of the brand - runs the serious risk of undermining that brand and losing business.
Reception staff often represent the first point of contact for customers and prospects and, in today's competitive business climate, businesses simply can't afford to present visitors or callers with a reason for complaint. The old adage about never noticing the best waiters can be applied here. 'Smooth and efficient' will be welcomed and appreciated. But mistakes and annoyances are more likely to be magnified and reported.
For many organisations, attracting and retaining quality reception personnel is an ongoing challenge. Traditionally, this has been a position that endures high staff turnover, with the result that much time and financial commitment can be directed at fulfilling this function. The process of recruiting high quality, security checked personnel can become a significant drain on resources.
The Bigger Picture
Whilst the outsourcing of reception duties will undoubtedly eliminate many of the recruitment and training headaches, businesses choosing to take this route must be sure to look at the broader picture. It is not simply a case of occupying the position with reliable and personable staff. Increasingly, choosing the right outsourcing company to handle reception duties can pay instant dividends in terms of the productivity of core operational staff.
Certainly, the technology now exists to enable the rapid search and retrieval of archived information. For any business, the benefits of training reception staff to understand queries and retrieve relevant information are obvious. Typically, the most common queries and requests will be dealt with by a telemarketing team or by dedicated personnel within a department. However, it is the more unusual requests that will often impact most heavily on the day-to-day activity of core staff. Empowering reception personnel to handle such queries will immediately release this burden, and ensure callers are not passed from department to department to track down an answer.
The ability to retrieve information quickly will depend upon the level of categorisation applied to the search. Thus, the more detail that is applied at the initial search stage, the more rapidly the right documents or answers will emerge. Here, the most thorough outsourcing companies will seek to work closely with the business in question to understand the nature of the organisation and to analyse typical enquiry patterns. Moreover, leading providers are now able to offer archive and retrieval expertise and technology alongside trained personnel, meaning that both staff and systems can be applied in order to maximise efficiency.
Whether this technology is supplied directly or sourced through independent relationships with third-party specialists, the outsource provider must understand the unique requirements of the business in order to recommend effective solutions. Only through a thorough audit of the needs of each customer organisation and a comprehensive review of staffing, work profiles and call handling productivity can the outsourcing company provide the necessary depth of knowledge.
Crucially, any company outsourcing its reception function should benefit from the regular analysis of both staff and technology performance. The needs and expectations of the marketplace are constantly evolving, therefore any outsourcing provider must be able to advise on technology advances and to propose system changes to ensure front-of-house service levels remain consistently high over time. Examples of recent relevant technology developments include mail 'track and trace' systems which enable important documents or materials to be followed from receipt to delivery. Additionally, new technology can also trace the location of visitors to a site, enhancing both site and visitor security. It is the role of any competent outsourcing provider to alert customers to such technology when appropriate, to implement these new solutions and to ensure that staff are trained accordingly.
Consistency and familiarity are also key factors for many businesses. Callers or visitors may become used to dealing with one or two people, and changing reception staff too often can be disruptive. However, contingency planning for un-scheduled and planned absence is a vital component of any outsourcing package. Again, the best providers will ensure that a pool of trained, security checked personnel are on hand to handle any eventuality.
Ultimately, each customer site is unique and requirements will differ from company to company. However, in a climate of scarce capital resources, any increase to overall productivity must be seriously considered. Through effective outsourcing of the reception function, businesses can release core staff from dealing with time consuming enquiries with resulting productivity benefits. Today's outsourced reception services can become a key element in a truly integrated Customer Relationship Management strategy.
About Richard Thompson:
Thompson has 20 years' sales and marketing management experience, during which time he headed up the production printer division within Oce UK and was managing director of Oce Ireland and vice president of sales and marketing within Oce USA. More recently Thompson was the managing director of Riso UK.
About Pitney Bowes:
Pitney Bowes is a mailstream technology company that helps organisations manage the flow of information, mail, documents and packages. Our 35,000 employees deliver technology, service and innovation to more than two million customers worldwide. The company was founded in 1920 and annual revenues now total $6 billion.
Published: Friday, November 03, 2006
More Editorial From Pitney Bowes
- Pitney Bowes Cuts Spokane Call Center Jobs
- Pitney Bowes Unveils Multichannel Customer Communication Suite
- Pitney Bowes Awarded Contract Renewal with If Insurance
- Pitney Bowes to Close Chesapeake Call Center, Laying Off 64
- Pitney Bowes and Promail Celebrate Successful Start to Partnership
- Pitney Bowes Launches Marketing Lifecycle Services