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Service Excellence 101: Be Welcoming

by Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM
September 19, 2011

As a follow up to my article about being eager to serve, it is important to highlight the importance of the entire welcome experience. There is a popular saying that goes, You never get a second chance to make a first impression. While it is possible, it can be difficult to bounce back from a poor welcome experience.

Importance of the Welcome

On a recent trip, I drove up to the hotel where I would be staying. After receiving instructions from the doorman on where to go for self-parking, I made my way to the hotel and was immediately struck by how well-designed everything was. There were glass sculptures and beautiful chandeliers throughout the lobby. I was impressed. When I got to the front desk, there were two receptionists talking with each other. One of them eventually stopped talking, looked down at her computer, sighed, then said, “Hello, may I help you?” That question was asked with no eye contact, no smile, and no interest. That experience was the exact opposite of a warm welcome. The agent rushed through a scripted series of questions (Name? ID? Credit card?). It was abundantly clear that she either:
 
a)      Disliked her job
b)      Disliked guests
c)      Was having a bad day
d)     A combination all three

Whatever the reason, I was very disappointed and felt unwelcome. That was clearly a wasted opportunity to make me feel welcome and set my expectations for what the rest of the service could potentially be like. Whenever a customer enters your building, everyone must do all they can to create a welcoming atmosphere.

Imagine you haven’t seen a favorite relative or a close friend for several years, and they come to visit. How will you greet them? More importantly, how will you make them feel? When a customer enters your building or walks up to your desk, they are entering your home.

Let’s contrast that experience with a recent visit to the Relache Spa at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN. As I entered through the spa’s front door, I was immediately greeted by a receptionist with a big, warm smile...before I even got to the registration desk where she was. After welcoming me, she asked if I had a spa appointment. When I told here that I did, she quickly (yet gracefully) glanced at her appointment log, then proactively used my name to welcome me once again. She then gave me an overview of the spa service that I reserved, along with a mini verbal orientation of the spa facilities.

That spa receptionist clearly:
  • Loved her job
  • Loved her guests
  • Was having a great day (probably because she was in a job where she could fully use her talents for making others feel welcomed). 
Needless to say, the rest of my spa experience, was on par with the warm greeting I received.

The Receptionist

Many organizations severely undervalue the importance of the receptionist/greeter. That position is, by far, one of the most important in any service-driven business, regardless of the industry. That person can turn your bad day into a good one, or your good day into a bad one. Yes, that is how much power their smile (on non-smile) can have on the customer’s experience. No one wants to walk into a restaurant and the hostess looks like she’s been sucking on a lemon.

The receptionist, or whomever the first person is that your customer sees, should have the most natural smile on the entire team. They should love people and love making them feel welcome. They should come from behind their desk and periodically check on their guests. They should work the reception area/lobby, by straightening furniture, magazines, etc. They should be people filled with joy. Not necessarily people who are happy, because happiness is based on happenings. If the happenings are good, they are happy, and if the happenings are bad, they are unhappy. Joy is innate and grounded. Joyful people are appreciative. They appreciate that they have a job in the first place and they appreciate the opportunity to positively influence their customers.

So, here are my recommendations to design or re-design your welcome experience.
  • Work with your team to clearly articulate how you want your customers to feel everyday for every guest. 
  • Identify the key service touchpoints in the welcome experience of your business (i.e. the parking lot, front door, reception desk, etc.) 
At the welcome experience, every customer should feel honored, as if they were the guest-of-honor at a banquet. So greet, smile and engage your customers from the moment that you see them. Not because you have to, but because it truly is your pleasure to do so.


About the Author
Dr. Bryan K. Williams is the Chief Service Officer of B.Williams Enterprise, and the author of Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar. Bryan’s passion is world-class customer service, and has facilitated workshops and delivered keynotes all over the world for various companies.  He speaks on a variety of topics related to service excellence, employee engagement, and organizational improvement.  As a consultant, Bryan works closely with companies to design, develop, and implement sustainable service strategies. His company’s online store includes a growing collection of customer service products that are well-suited for your training library.

 
Contact:

B. Williams Enterprise, LLC 
Website: www.bwenterprise.net
Email:  info@bwenterprise.net 
Phone: 240-401-6958 

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Also See: The Three Ingredients of Engaging Service: Humility, Reverence & Professionalism / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / August 2011

Service Excellence: The MOST Important Thing To Create a Service Culture! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / July 2011

Service Excellence 101: How to Serve a VIP / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / June 2011

The 1st Step of Service: Be Eager to Serve / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / May 2011

World-Class Service: The Double-Platinum Rule 2.0 / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / April 2011

Customer Problem Resolution: The 100% Principle / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / March 2011

World-Class Service 102: Be memorable / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / February 2011

Take your service to the next level: Only BIG WOW’s…No bow-wow’s / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / February 2011

Service Excellence: Inspect What You Expect / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / November 2010

Work Like You Own It 2.0; Energize it. Recognize it. Celebrate it. / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / September 2010

World-Class Service 101: Know the difference between meeting and exceeding expectations / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / July 2010

Service Superstars Part 2: Treat them like they own it! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / June 2010

Make each touchpoint memorable: Cha-Ching! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / April 2010

Service Superstars: Work like you own it! / Bryan Williams / February 2010

Complimentary resources from Bryan K. Williams and B.Williams Enterprise! Begin 2010 with a focus on world-class service. / January 2010

Service Ambassadors: The Key to Providing World-Class Service / Bryan K. Williams / November 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 3 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / August 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 1/ Bryan K. Williams / July 2009

Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar / Bryan K. Williams / July 2009

Complimentary tele-seminars with Bryan K. Williams in July! / July 2009

Building a Team of Living It Employees / Bryan K. Williams / June 2009

World-Class Service: What if every employee served like a concierge? / Byran K Williams / March 2009

5 Star Leadership: What Does It Take to Be a 5-star Leader? / Byran Williams / February 2009

5 Stars vs. 4 Stars: What’s the Difference? / Byran Williams / January 2009

Complimentary training with Bryan Williams / January 2009

The 7 Principles of EngageMeTM is now available! / Bryan K. Williams / November 2008

Hiring and Engaging a World-Class Team / Bryan K. Williams / October 2008

Great Ideas for National Customer Service Week 2008 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service Part 3: Company Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service Pt. 2: Personal Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service: Function vs. Purpose / Bryan K. Williams / August 2008

Guest Problem Resolution 101: Power of the Follow-Up / Bryan K. Williams / June 2008

7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers – Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / May 2008

7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers / Bryan K. Williams / April 2008

I Am a Service Professional™ / Bryan K. Williams / March 2008

Engage Every Customer…One Touchpoint at a Time / Bryan K. Williams / January 2008

Engaging Service Part 2: It’s All About the Culture / Bryan K. Williams / December 2007

Engaging Service Part 1: Not Just for the Chic / Bryan K. Williams / November 2007

Service Excellence: A Destination or a Journey? / Bryan K. Williams / October 2007

National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007

National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007

Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer www.engagemenow.com / September 2007

Customer Engagement: Where do we begin? / Byran K Williams / August 2007

Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer / www.engagemenow.com / August 2007

B. Williams Enterprise, LLC Launches Engage Me…  the Voice of Your Customer / August 2007

To Engage…Listen to the Voice of Your Customer / Byran K Williams / August 2007

To Engage the Guest, You Must Engage Those Who Directly Serve the Guest / Byran K Williams / July 2007

Three Service Rules: The Golden Rule, Platinum Rule, and Double Platinum Rule/ Byran K Williams / June 2007

The Greatest Bellman I Ever Met… / Bryan K. Williams / April 2006

Sorry to Say…But Some People Should Not be Serving Other Human Beings / Bryan K Williams / October 2006
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