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Does Your Front Office Make A Good Impression With Customers?

Every day, each of us spends 15 to 60 minutes making certain our physical appearance is not only what we want but also "fit for the public." We oftentimes pay more attention to these details than anything else in our lives. Each of us has a standard for how we want to look to ourselves and others.

Your public power utility's front office has the same opportunity to make an impression with your customers. How your front office looks and feels has an affect on your customers and even your staff. Have you taken the time to make it a positive impression? Simple things can make a difference. Large budgets are not needed to redecorate.

You can easily create a visually appealing, customer friendly atmosphere. You also can make the front office a showcase promoting your utility’s community involvement and efforts of individuals from your company. You can even promote your products and services.

Let’s take a look at some simple ideas, starting with physical comfort and appeal.

Pleasing colors. Color has an impact on one’s emotional state. A gentle shade of an appealing color can be calming. It also can make a room feel homey and warm A little color on drab, white walls will do a lot to change the feel of the front office.

Play area for children. Have you ever wondered why doctors and dentists have play areas for kids? Well, if it’s a good experience for the kids, it likely is a good experience for the parents. A 4-foot by 4-foot area with toddler chairs and interactive toys such as puzzles and building blocks can be a lifesaver for parents waiting to meet with your staff. Make it a fun experience for the kids by providing a variety of toys for all ages. The play area will be a huge hit.

Play area for the adults. Adults can become just as bored and impatient as kids. Provide a variety of magazines that waiting customers can read to pass the time.

Music. Much like color, music can change the feeling in a room. Most people are uncomfortable with silence, so have music continually playing. A variety of music styles is the best approach to overcoming objections to a particular kind of music.

Furniture layout. If you have the room, arrange furniture so that people have their own space. If possible, don’t seat people so they are facing another row of people. Consider what your customers will be looking at. Think about such logistics as whether people walking by will step on other people’s feet.

Decorate for the holidays. Have fun with the various holidays. Encourage your staff to decorate the front office for St., Patrick’s Day, the Fourth of July, Halloween, etc. A small investment will generate a lot of spirit and staff involvement.

Now let’s take a look at conducting business, especially how you interact with customers. A few small considerations can make a huge difference in a customer’s comfort level. The challenge is to maximize the impact given the space of your office.

Counter height. Can customers easily and comfortably access their purses or wallets or review documents with you? Is it easy for customers and staff to engage in conversation without feeling like they’re talking over a fence?

Seating and privacy. When customers need to establish service or discuss their bill or another matter with your customer service staff, is there a place where they can sit? Is there space or a partition between the CSR desk and other CSRs so customers can comfortably discuss confidential matters without the whole office overhearing the conversation?

Now about that showcase. The front office is a great place for product education.

Product promotion. Do your customers know about all the products you offer? If you’re running a promotion this month, it should be displayed in your waiting area.

Product display. Create opportunities to display the products you market. Utilities that offer high-speed Internet access could create a workstation where customers can experience the high-speed connection. Create a visual display of the benefits of your high-speed Internet service.

High bill season During summer and winter months, utilities receive lots of complaints from customers about high bills. Use the front office to show customers which devices in the home consume the most electricity. Display a list of tips on how they can reduce energy costs.

Don’t forget opportunities for public relations via your front office.

Letters from customers. Create your own version of a ”wall of fame.” When customers write a letter commending an employee or expressing appreciation, frame it and hang it. Third-party testimonials are incredibly powerful!

Community sponsorship and involvement. When you contribute to a community group or participate in a community event, ask the organization for a testimonial letter and display it. Like letters from customers, these testimonials are a great way to “blow your horn.” Not every customer may realize the degree to which you’re involved in the community. When a staff member is recognized for something they did within your community, create some type of recognition that can be framed and hung on your “wall of fame.” If you participate in green power, create a space in your front lobby with visual displays that explain what green power is and the benefits to your customers and the environment.

Local artists. Support local artists and musicians by displaying their artwork or playing their music. Create small plaques giving them credit.

One of the most important aspects of rethinking your front-office appearance is to elicit feedback from your staff. Employees who work with customers in the front office may have good ideas. Other employees may have ideas based on what they’ve seen at other businesses. So engage your staff in the process of creating a front office that maximizes impact and functionality. Empowering your staff to be part of the solution will do far more than just improve the work environment. Whatever approach you take, your customers will appreciate your new and improved front office.

David Saxby's picture

Thank David for the Post!

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