Why Sales and Customers Get Lost at the Front Desk
Missed sales opportunities are not something any business owner wants. Most owners will extensively review operations to ensure sales opportunities don’t walk out the door. But, how many times have you wondered what’s going on at the front desk? You’re focussed on other areas of the business. You can’t sit at the front desk at all hours, so how do you know if the staff is delivering quality customer service? How do you know if leads and sales are being captured at every possible opportunity?
Front Line Business Mishap
Here’s a recent experience I had as a customer to illustrate how things can go terribly wrong on the front line of a business. I booked an appointment at a new spa that had opened in my city. I had received an eye-catching, and no doubt expensive, direct mail flyer in our mailbox. So after spending some time on the website, I contacted the spa to inquire about some of their treatments. (Yes, direct mail still works!) When I booked the appointment, I requested a consultation so I could be advised of the best treatment options based on my goals. I was assured I would receive a consultation with an esthetician. So far so good!
Upon arriving for my appointment, I was given an extensive form to complete. I was also given a card on which I could choose upsell treatments. I completed the form and selected a treatment from the upsell card.
While completing the form, I overheard the front desk staff ridiculing a previous customer. I immediately wondered if they would be doing the same about me upon my departure. I almost got up and walked out right then. Perhaps should have trusted my instincts.
Sales Pitch Promises
When the esthetician came into the treatment room, she told me the treatment she was going to deliver. It turned out to be a treatment that wasn’t in the category that I had initially requested! I referred to the information I provided on the form and reminded her I had been told I would receive a skin analysis. She said it was the treatment that she was recommending, but I could tell she hadn’t even reviewed my form. She didn’t do the promised consultation or provide the additional treatment I had elected to receive on the upsell card. During my treatment, I decided I would never return to this spa.
Needless to say, I was perplexed by the time I got to the front desk to pay. Not only had I not received the services I requested, but I figured I had spent about $100 less than I had budgeted for the appointment. That may not sound like a lot for one appointment, but I wondered how many other customers were being sold less than they had planned on buying. It could add up to many thousands of dollars over the course of a year for this one business. Downselling seemed to be their ultimate goal. It was a bizarre twist on customer service, to say the least.
Leaky Bucket Syndrome
This is a real-life illustration of what I call the ‘Leaky Bucket Syndrome’ of poor front desk service. This is when missteps happen at multiple touch points with prospects and customers. The end result is that sales opportunities are missed. Despite how quickly you fill up the bucket with new prospects and customers, you’re losing them out the bottom due to poor customer service.
Business owners know that it’s much more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep one. So can your business really afford to have a leaky bucket in the form of disorganized front desk service?
Customer Service Systems
This experience highlighted for me that this spa was missing something essential if it wanted to stay in business: a system for delivering top notch customer service. Customer service isn’t just an ad hoc activity your staff does when they feel inspired: it’s a system you implement and train each staff person on so they can duplicate the process seamlessly. A customer service system builds accountability and allows you to track who is doing what in the process. It also helps identify why a customer doesn’t become or remain a repeat customer.
Just as importantly, a standardized system for delivering exceptional customer service will lessen anxiety at the front desk. That’s right! Your front desk staff feels anxiety around expectations to upsell and communicate with prospects. How do I know this? Because my clients’ staff tell me.
As an aside, as a new customer of that spa, I still have not received a follow-up call to ascertain my level of satisfaction as a first time customer. Such a simple, but often overlooked step in the sales process.
If your business doesn’t have a system for front desk service, I guarantee you that your business is missing sales opportunities.