7 Ways to Impress Clients Who Visit Your Office Space
A crash course in how to welcome, impress and retain your clients.
A client of mine has a very important customer who had never visited his office before. They'd always met at the customer's headquarters, which tended to be easier for the client.
My client's company has two floors in an office building and reception is on the 3rd floor. His customer decided she'd like to see where her millions of dollars in purchases are going, so she made an appointment to visit.
The customer went directly to the floor my client is on, the 2nd floor. When she arrived, there was no receptionist, because she was on the wrong floor (even though my client instructed her to go to reception on the 3rd floor. ) She roamed the halls and cubicles. No one person got up from their desk to ask, "May I help you?" It wasn't their job.
Needless to say, this million-dollar customer wasn't very happy when she finally tracked down my client and already had a poor first experience in their office.
As some politicos like to say, never let a disaster go to waste. That may sound a bit extreme, but so is losing a million dollar customer. Here are seven quick tips for making sure you properly welcome (and wow) your client when they visit your office.
- Train all employees that all visitors are their personal customers, even if they do not have a functional role with that visitor. This means making eye contact, smiling, saying hello and asking any unattended visitors they see, if they can help. This alone can make a huge difference between having a terrible experience and a potential customer feeling welcome enough to consider making a transaction with the people behind the business.
- Have a lobby board that says, "Welcome, Joe Smith from XYZ Company." This incredibly simple gesture takes you no more than a couple of minutes to put together and pays dividends by showing your visitors that you consciously thought about them before their arrival. And if it's a potential client you're having in, this small welcome gesture that shows how much you care about their experience can make the difference between their choice to do business with you or a competitor that does give them a memorable experience.
- Maintain a clean workplace in every area a visitor can see, especially near the entrance. Have someone other than yourself look at your work entrance and critique it from the point of view of a potentially valuable customer who comes in to visit. Is the paint chipped? Carpet worn? Are two-year-old tattered magazines strewn around the visitor lobby? Make it part of someone's job to assure that the visual aesthetics of your workplace shine through and reflect the professionalism you want to convey for welcoming in clients and prospects.
- The most important people in the office is the reception staff. What is he or she communicating when someone walks in? Even if they're busy answering phones, they can still make friendly eye contact, use hand gestures to indicate they'll be right with the visitor and offer assistance immediately after getting off the phone. Be sure to instruct your reception staff to not be constantly looking down at their phones, as this can be a huge turn off when a guest is patiently waiting, trying not to be rude.
- Offer self-serve refreshments: Invest in a nice coffee and water system that isn't buried in the kitchen area. Put it where customers can find it and serve themselves while they wait or prepare for their meeting. Have some fresh fruit or healthy, wrapped snacks available (not cheap, stale candy).
- Offer today's newspapers in the lobby with a sticker that says, "Please feel free to take this newspaper with you, courtesy of XYZ Co."
- If the company has a mission or guiding principles statement, post it in many places where customers will see, and make sure everyone lives up to it.
For bonus points after your client leaves, consider sending all of your most important visitors a thank you card or small gift to show them that you appreciated them taking the time to come into your office and visit. While this is yet another small gesture, it can go a long way towards wowing a client and giving them a reason to choose you over the competition.
Remember, whether your company is large or small, every one of your employees is selling, all of the time.