Are you getting a good reception? (Law Society Gazette/In business blog)

Click here to see the article on the Law Society Gazette web site.

Rupert White's Blog

Or is it simply that no one really manages the reception experience?

Back in May, on the Tuesday after one of the bank holidays, I called one law firm and the phone simply rang out for two minutes and 30 seconds, and then went to a ‘not available’ tone. As the partner works between locations I decided to try one of the other offices where they might be found. This time (mid-morning) there was a message saying that the office was closed asking the caller to ring back in normal office hours – thus giving the impression that the office might be open but someone had left the answerphone on. I later found out that the firm traditionally closed on the Tuesday after that bank holiday – had anyone given a thought to the clients as they locked up on Friday evening?

Some firms I come across create a fantastic first impression. By this I mean that it is easy to park; the receptionist is expecting you, smiles and knows who you are coming in to see; the seating area is comfortable, with recent and interesting reading material; and you are offered water or great-tasting coffee.

For the firms I visit where this is not the case, I wonder when was the last time that the ‘reception experience’ appeared on the management agenda – or if it ever has?

It is one of those issues likely to come way down the list of agenda items, after billing figures, debtor days and current HR problems.

It is also an area where often no single partner has responsibility. The employment and management of the receptionist is seen as an HR matter, the ancient phone system is a technology problem, the signage and display is the fault of the marketing department and there is nothing left in the training budget for the reception staff.

Given that most partners have a little more time on their hands than usual at the moment, make an effort over the next few days to phone in from home in the evening/early morning and to walk into reception and try to see it as a client would. Alternatively, ask a friend or relative for a frank and honest assessment.

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