Think about how you want your business to be perceived.
Are you OK with customers thinking your practices are disorganized, careless, and pay no attention to detail?
Or, do you want to come across as cutting-edge, tuned-in to technology, and a trend adopter?
Is customer service a priority, where your company puts the unique needs of its customers first?
Your reception area is where the first impression of your enterprise often starts. It's the physical space whose environment directly reflects your company's values, from the serenity of the atmosphere to the friendliness of your staff.
Whether you're a financial institution, a doctor's office, or an advertising agency, it's vital to put as much thought and care into your reception area as you would website design, troubleshooting support, and actual business services.
Here are four ways to make a stellar impression with the first space your customers enter.
1. Utilize Technology
Additions aided by technology don't just add a modern impression to your dealings — they can also show off what your company is about and get people engaged with your business. Some ideas include:
- A digital wall image, which you can use to put those in the reception area at ease with peaceful images, or which you can use to educate customers about your business while they wait and incentivize them to increase purchases with you.
- Tablets customers can use to check in on and input valuable information about themselves. Unlike paper on a clipboard, customer information acquisition via a tablet device allows them to instantly get signed up for promotions and email newsletters, or even browse your product line.
- Charging stations so customers can stay connected to their own devices while they wait — a perk that shows you care about them.
Your business could also use tech to display wait times. According to a 2013 study by Software Advice of more than 5,000 U.S. health patients, 80 percent of respondents said they'd be less frustrated with the reception area room experience if they were aware of how long their wait would be. A little transparency with some help from technology goes a long way.
2. Keep It Clean
Nothing makes an area more uncomfortable than foul smells, sticky floors, or unsightly stains. A fresh and hygienic entrance area gives the effect of a business that is organized and detail-oriented, and of one that cares about the health and safety of its customers.
If kids are frequent visitors to your reception area, keep germs from spreading by regularly disinfecting common areas. A plug-in air freshener, with a soothing scent like lavender, makes nostrils happy.
For high-traffic areas, consider durable furniture and flooring that allows for easy clean-up of messes. Featuring material such as easy-to-install vinyl for your floors helps make spills a cinch to eliminate while easy-to-access wastebaskets and recycling bins encourage visitors to help maintain tidiness.
3. Fit Your Audience
Make the reception game a pleasurable one by incorporating touches your visitors will love. Order subscriptions to appropriate reading material based on the industry you're in, and keep magazines and tablets in chic organizers.
For reception rooms that often have children, consider building a separate play area where young ones can relax. Make sure toys don't have small parts and are easy to manage and store. For rooms that will be visited by special-needs customers or the elderly, make furniture easy to get on and off of.
Match your decor to your customers — and your brand. Use bright colors and funky decorations to show off your personality, or feature brand-specific touches in artwork and design. If you're a digital marketing agency specializing in sports and athlete management, for example, you could add a competitive feature, such as a pool or foosball table.
4. Spread Smiles
Ensure the transition to your visitors' business dealings is a smooth one by fostering an atmosphere that's friendly and positive. Train your front desk staff to smile, call customers by their names, and use eye contact to generate trust and a sense of support.
Even your signage can have an effect on customers' moods. WebPT suggests using copywriting with an upbeat spin, such as swapping a “No cell phones” message with something more cordial, like, “We’ll gladly help you when you're through with your phone call.”
Make the front desk one that's approachable, and eliminate standoffishness by banning negative chatter from staff. It also should not be a place where company business is discussed, since customers will want to know their interactions at your company are secure and confidential.
Marketing firm EBSCO Professional Partnership Group suggests free goodies like product samples or mints at the reception desk can also create positive sentiment for your brand. Think of your reception area as an essential part of your brand image and one that welcomes customers into business with you — and makes them want to keep coming back.