Front of house staff play a vital role in any organisation. They are the first point of contact with the clients and visitors who visit Spaces at The Spine and they set the tone for the customer’s experience when they are there. To honour and recognise the important work that receptionists do, National Receptionist Day is celebrated on the second Wednesday of May each year. We spent 5 minutes with Spaces at The Spine’s Senior Receptionist Rachel Fullerton to explore what makes a great front-of-house team.
What do you love about working with customers?
I’m a people person, I love to talk and meet new people. A reception has to have personality, professionalism, and warmth – I’ve worked in quite a few different reception environments, in both Liverpool and London, the key to it all is to treat everybody you meet with the same respect, you never know who is going to walk through the door.
Tell us a funny story about something you encountered in customer service/ reception
My last job was front of house at an investment bank – we had a new CEO who had travelled to Liverpool on a strict agenda, we had to make sure everything went to plan during his stay, including travel.
A taxi was booked on account for his departure, all his details were given to the driver, who was told to arrive early and wait to ensure our CEO made his train on time. I collected him, escorted him to the designated point, as we got there the taxi was pulling away, I rang the taxi company and they informed me that the passenger collected had said ‘yes’ to the cab driver when he asked if he was our VIP. He basically got a free cab to the station whilst our VIP was now running late for his train!
I wasn’t going to let him miss his train, our team had worked hard to ensure sure his visit was a success: my only option was to grab a cab from the taxi rank up the road. It was easier for me to run across the dual carriageway known as the strand in Liverpool and grab a cab, I’m in my heels, fitted uniform and scarf!
I managed to grab a cab, quickly explained to the driver that he would be paid extra just to get our guest to the station on time, the driver was amazing with a great sense of humour. The clock was ticking, we now had around 10 mins to get him to Lime Street, and the train, in rush hour traffic. I’m glad to say he made his train by a minute, he sent the team a lovely email to thank us for going above and beyond and told us how much he had laughed about the taxi experience, he thanked us for the lovely warm, friendly experience he’d had at Liverpool.
What makes a good front-of-house team?
As the face of the company, you must be professional, polite and treat everybody that walks through the door with the same respect, a warm smile and a good sense of humour are key. Also the ability to adapt to any situation, always willing to problem solve and go above and beyond if required.
How does Spaces at The Spine offer top customer service?
The historic reputation of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the combined meet-and-greet service provided to our guests are so important, the first impression our visitors have has to be the best we can make it.
We have had some fabulous feedback as a whole combined team, from planning to AV, catering etc – we also have some lovely members who use our Members and Fellows Lounge on a regular basis, we now know them on first-name terms. I can honestly say that the RCP and Spaces at The Spine offer a first-class service as a whole, it’s a lovely place to work.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for anyone working with customers?
When dealing with difficult situations stay calm, it’s not personal, listen, and in a professional manner offer a solution if you can. On a general basis, just be you, always try to be upbeat and friendly, a warm smile will always win.
Effective front-of-house staff wear several hats that require them to embody several qualities, including excellent communication skills, multi-tasking skills, a positive attitude, problem-solving skills, professionalism, and discretion. National Receptionist Day is an opportunity for organisations to recognise and value the work done by their front-of-house staff.