This is just a reminder of the critical role the receptionist plays for all our firms. Yesterday a good friend of mine from the Midwest called her accountant with a question. Because he was not in the office, she spoke with the receptionist, who was not helpful. In fact, the receptionist was rushed and rude. My friend said, "I think I will just call another local firm to get an answer to my question because I don't really like your attitude." Guess what the receptionist said. She countered with,"Well I don't like your attitude either."
Obviously there is no winner here. My friend might've been too hasty in her comment about leaving the firm, but she was frustrated by first being placed on hold, then told her accountant wasn't in, and then finally she felt the receptionist offered few alternatives for how to reach him with a quick question. The receptionist had an obligation to help the client quickly and efficiently, and if she could not solve her problem, at least speak to her in a pleasant manner. The quick and sassy come-back was completely out of line and the firm lost a nice client who had referred many others throughout the years.
Most of us think this can't happen at our firm. This just serves as a wake up call that in a tight economy, with clients whose nerves are frayed and who might be looking for an excuse to cut fees somewhere, being NICE is a terrific marketing tool. A helpful, friendly, warm welcome will go a long way toward keeping things cool.
Have you had any similar experiences?