Back in my college days, I showed up for an interview with a potential employer, and in the first 30 seconds, I knew I didn’t want to work there. I entered the building and had no idea where to go. As if I wasn’t nervous enough already, I found myself standing in the doorway alone. No one greeted me, and I found no indication of where my interview was to be held. Also, the chairs in the reception area were old and dirty, the walls were a pale grey, and everything just screamed, “Run!”
After wandering around the nearby hallways trying to find someone, I sat down on one of the musty chairs (which were just as uncomfortable as they looked), and waited for a few minutes. As I sat there alone, my anxiety continued to increase. I knew I was at the right place, but I was going to be “late” for my interview because no one could direct me to the meeting place. I listened to my instincts and left. I didn’t interview, and that place lost the wonderful opportunity of hiring yours truly.
Have you ever had an experience similar to this? Maybe it wasn’t for an interview. Perhaps you were going somewhere to meet someone, a prospective business partner or customer, but got a bad vibe from their office. Or, worse, does this describe your office?
The environment your clients see when first entering your place of business is essential to your customer service and brand management. The way someone is greeted—or not greeted—when they walk into your establishment has the ability to make or break your sale.
To ensure you’re putting your best foot forward when it comes to creating a welcoming environment, do a walk-through of your own. Pretend you’re a customer, expecting to be impressed.
Start in the parking lot and work your way in. How’s the parking situation? Do you have adequate spaces available, and do they fit the needs of your client?
Next, it’s on to reception. Do you have a reception area? If not, consider implementing one. Is someone waiting to greet you when you walk through the door? If so, were they warm and friendly? Did they smile and welcome you, or were they too busy to glance up?
When greeting your customers, be friendly. Offer them something to drink, and direct them to their appropriate destinations.
Now, take a look at the elements in your reception area. What color are the walls? How does that color make you feel initially? Colors not only affect the productivity of your office workers, they also affect how people feel, interact, and shop. Blue and green hues portray peacefulness and honesty, which can help outsiders feel at ease. Yellows and oranges give off a sense of cheerfulness and warmth. However, be careful of the tone. Too much or too bright can be overstimulating to the eyes, and can leave people feeling irritated or on edge. Instead, opt for muted tones, or add splashes of these colors against neutrals to keep up energy and create a dynamic atmosphere without going overboard.
When choosing the colors for your office, consider your brand and how you want to be perceived. For example, using black and white often portrays luxury and elegance. Navy, dark green, and burgundy show control, responsibility, and wealth. Choose colors based on your type of business and your overall buyer persona. Make your space a place they will feel comfortable.
Note whether there are places to sit while waiting. If so, what does the furniture look like? Is it well-kept and comfortable, or does it resemble those murky chairs I described earlier?
Consider what your client will take in when waiting. How does your office smell? Does it smell fresh? Consider placing flowers or a plant in your reception area. What about the work environment? Can you see what’s going on, or are doors closed and cubicles blocked off? Transparency can help put a customer at ease. Open cubicles, windows, and office doors gives your customers a sense of trust.
While you were waiting, did you you need to use the restroom? Was it clearly marked or did you need to ask for assistance to find it? Were the restrooms easily accessible and clean?
Now you are ready for your meeting. Whether you’re meeting in a conference room or an individual office, many of these principles apply. Consider the colors used in the room, decorations, and cleanliness. Make sure lighting, furniture, and refreshments are adequate.
Examining the way your business looks to your customer can help enhance communication with them, ease tension, and increase retention. How your business environment comes across to your clients affects their attitude toward your brand.
Don’t let a good opportunity run out the door. Simple changes can make all the difference.
Is your environment welcoming? What ideas have you implemented to help clients feel comfortable and keep them coming back?
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