In the words of the author Maya Angelou: “... people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In a business meeting of course it’d be great if they remembered what you said, what you did and how you made them feel. But we all know first impressions go a long way; how you feel and are made to feel when you first approach a new business partner, associate, client or service provider makes the world of difference in creating a positive perception of that business.
Visitors will come into contact with a range of different team members, who all act as gatekeepers of a company’s brand. Whether this is a receptionist, security guard, concierge, housekeeper or member of the catering team, they have the power to either reinforce the client’s values or undermine them.
A personalised approach to this service can heighten client satisfaction levels and reiterate business values – it’s critical that visitors to your organisation leave feeling as though the experience was a positive one, whether it’s a potential business partner or a new recruit into your team. The ability to create a five-star experience unique to customers, clients and such like is something to strive for and continue to develop.
Start by researching your guests: what are they going to expect from you organisation? What will they value in their contact with your organisation? What would a great visitor experience look like from their perspective? By understanding what they want and expect, you can deliver and exceed that. If you research your visitors individually before they come in (if possible), you can really provide a tailored and therefore memorable meeting with them.
It may not always be straightforward to get your hands on this information, but your consideration counts. It can be done formally, through feedback and or market research, or simply by talking to your guest during one of the many typical interactions you have with them. Alternatively, social media fuels us with many of people’s hobbies, likes and dislikes – bear these in mind when they visit.
Have engaged employees representing the business!
A bored receptionist, a laissez-faire concierge or a grumpy housekeeper can completely change a visitor’s experience of an organisation for the worse, ultimately affecting that company’s commercial success. According to research conducted by Leesman, only 51% of employees feel that their workplace is somewhere that they are proud to bring visitors to. First and foremost, then, employers must improve the working conditions of employees so that they feel that their space is somewhere they can show off. This will, in turn, mean that they are much happier to have guests and to welcome visitors in an engaging manner. When it comes to smaller businesses, the aforementioned responsibilities usually double up into other roles – so in order to deliver a great service for your visitors you must have a universally engaged workforce.
Brainstorm internally: have a collective think with the people in your workplace about how you’d describe the service and the first impressions you would like your guests to receive on each and every visit. Think about and discuss some of the places you’ve received excellent hospitality; on business trips, client meetings, or even leisure pursuits – then break this down and adapt these techniques to suit your business. Increasingly businesses are turning to the hotel and hospitality sector to gain an insight into how guests should be treated while they are on the premises. By bringing a hotel-style approach to the workplace in a way that adopts a number of methods you can provide a very personalised experience, in an otherwise nomadic and agile world of work. Face-to-face exchanges are becoming more important than ever nowadays; with the advancement of technologies we are seeing our colleagues and clients less. People tend to be more switched on and engaged when they’re in front of you (as opposed to being on the end of a phone, or video conferencing call), so make sure you make the right impression when they are, so they remember it when they’re not!
Well looked after visitors reflect the values of your business and reinforce an overall positive perception of your organisation. Ultimately, happy customers can result in business success - so personalise your in-house hospitality ideas and adapt them to your organisation and its contacts.
By Anthony Bennett, co-founder and director, Bennett Hay