It is warm for a day in autumn, the sun is shining and for a few seconds I close my eyes and point my face towards the sun. A great feeling that boosts at least my mood every time I do this. With a bit of a heavy heart, I continue my walk to the office building, as time flies and my meeting is about to start in a matter of minutes.
I am here for a business meeting, it is a new client, a company that has ambitious goals in the area of Customer Experience. They want to “skyrocket their satisfaction levels”, that is what my contact told me when we had our phone call two weeks ago. Ambitious goals, as their current direct to consumer business was not a shining example so far and their biggest area to improve in terms of CX. I truly believe that acknowledging the fact that there is work to be done is the best starting point. From there you can establish a good strategy and move on.
As I am deeply sunken in my thoughts another pedestrian is walking towards me, obviously in great anger, cursing and mumbling to himself. Turning his head backwards looking to the door that I am about to enter in a few moments. I am trying not to stare too obviously at him but wonder what it was that was bringing this man to such a level of rage.
The headquarter is a typical modern office style building, a lot of glass that gives the impression of transparency. With a swift sound the automatic door opens and unveils a lobby that is dominated by warm colors, friendly open space atmosphere and a lot of plants. Everything is welcoming you and makes you rather feel that you are entering a living room than an office building.
Really good start, the first impression walking in as a customer, prospect or lead is for sure a good one. My eyes wander across the room and stop at the reception desk. A young woman just reached the desk and is standing in front of the woman sitting behind the counter. The woman that just arrived seems to be in a hurry, at least her body language is showing that. As I come closer, I can overhear what they are talking about. The young woman is running an event in the building and is looking for a customer that should have arrived already. The lady behind the desk seems not to be impressed, she is grumpy and replies with the bare minimum of words. Silent and patiently I wait and observe the situation. It seems that the man that I nearly ran into earlier was the missing customer, he was expected, but as he arrived later, while the others were at lunch, no one registered him at the desk. And the grumpy lady had no interest in investigating further, he was not on the list, the contact persons not in the room, so it escalated in a way that at the end the customer left the building angry. You can imagine what the reaction of that young lady, desperately looking for her customer was, she was not happy either.
This was not my first experience like this, sometimes it starts on the parking lot, the best spots are not reserved for the customers, it is for the management team. And it continues to what I call a disastrous “first contact” in the lobby. Not only in a business life the first experience is what matters and what sticks. You must invest exponentially to turn such an experience around and it is so unnecessary. At the end customer experience is executed by human beings, you can have all the visions and missions, tuned processes and highly capable IT systems, but if the human factor is failing, the whole experience will be a bad one.
When it was my turn at the reception desk, I put on my most wholesome smile, that is in my experience, the best way to disarm grumpy people. You know why I did that, because there are always two parties involved in a first contact 😉