CFIO Receptionist Tips - How's your Chief First Impression Officer doing?

I wanted to post some receptionist tips because I know how important and demanding their jobs are. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t recognize this or even know who their CFIO is.  So I’ve included some advice for companies to support their CFIO.

What is a CFIO?

CFIO stands for Chief First Impression Officer. Almost every company has one, whether you know it or not. They are usually the first point of physical contact that an outsider experiences with your organization. Your CFIO is your receptionist.

First impressions; good, great or bad?

First impressions are lasting impressions that matter to your clients, customers and brand. Your receptionist always makes an impression. The million dollar question is: Is that impression good or bad?

Brand ambassadors… gulp

Many receptionists really enjoy welcoming people and are excellent brand ambassadors. They truly are your company’s Chief First Impression Officer. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in many organizations. More and more customers are not feeling welcomed by the receptionist.

What’s gone wrong?

Whether it’s a corporate office or a medical office, the response many visitors receive is lukewarm, a mumbled “hello”, or “I’ll be with you in a minute”, without eye contact, let alone a smile. Not exactly a great welcoming first impression.

Rude on purpose?

I’m pretty certain they’re not neglecting clients on purpose or to spite them; after all usually they have no history together. They seem more absorbed in whatever they’re doing on their desk or computer than the customer walking in the door. If they’re not doing it on purpose why are they doing it?

Is your company sabotaging your CFIO?

Maybe it’s not the receptionist’s fault? We all know the simple yet thoughtful steps required to receiving guests in our home to make them feel welcome and valued. Then why do some receptionists neglect to extend these same courtesies to visitors? Could your organization be to blame? So as well as receptionist tips here is some advice for employers.

6 Ways Organizations Can Support Their CFIO

  1. Value your CFIO – understand how they affect your company’s brand and image
  2. Select the right person – a receptionist needs to be outgoing and personable
  3. Not so much a gatekeeper – Properly train your CFIO in what we refer to as the “host mentality”. (Our clients invest in complete professional training for team members AND their CFIOs)
  4. Provide them with amenities – so they can offer your guests beverages, up-to-date magazines, comfortable chairs etc.
  5. Keep them informed – Give your CFIO a heads up when you are expecting a visitor or when you are running late – so they can smoothly say “Won’t you take a seat, ___________ is expecting you and will be with you shortly”
  6. Don’t overburden your receptionist – too many extra duties and your CFIO perceives the guest as an interruption of their work – forgetting that their primary role is to make visitors feel valued by the organization.

6 Top Receptionist Tips to Become a Great CFIO

  1. Always SEG–way visitors: Smile, Eye contact and Greet warmly
  2. Own it – Understand you truly are the Chief First Impression Officer of your company.
  3. All VIPs – Make every person who comes to your office feel like a VIP.
  4. Face-2-Face – Phone callers are important but people who come in person deserve your prompt attention
  5. Adopt the Host Mentality – take care of your VIPs by taking their coats and offering refreshments.
  6. It’s the little touches –  that make you and your organization stand out, such as remembering the guest’s name or how they take their coffee.

A welcome improvement

The welcome to an organization is a critical touch point that influences customer buying decisions, repeat business and overall experience.
Survey your clients about how they feel about the reception they receive. Look at your business with fresh eyes, as if you were a client walking through the door for the first time. Would you want to do business with your organization based on the welcome guests receive? If not, make improvements where necessary.

Put it in writing

Make up a sign for your receptionist that says CFIO. It will help remind you and them of how important they are to your organization’s success. Pass on these receptionist tips and please share with us any great experiences you have with reception to your own or other businesses.

Posted by Joanne Blake – Business etiquette speaker and CFIO  trainer

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About the author 

Joanne Blake

Canadian speaker, corporate image consultant & business etiquette expert. If you're interested in booking a presentation, keynote or coaching, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

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