Quick! What’s the first thing you want your visitors to think when they walk into your office? I’m sure it’s not “what a lifeless atmosphere” nor “this place looks like it came straight out of the 80’s”. Nothing against the ’80s, but you just want to give your visitors a good first impression. After all, their perception of your company is defined right at the reception.
But maybe you run a busy office and by consequence a busy reception. People coming in for meetings, interviews, casual visits, to deliver packages or perform services. On a hectic day when your lobby is crowded, your receptionist might not be able to allocate 100% of their attention to each visitor and make sure they have a 5-star experience. But even on those days, it is still possible to wow your visitors with the help of a few tricks:
So, how can you guarantee excellent visitor experience without intensive customer service? Here are 7 small changes that will make a huge difference in your reception:
1. Tidy up
Cleanliness is next to godliness, so make sure your reception is clean to welcome your visitors. This tip might seem obvious, but it isn’t just common sense. There are scientific explanations to why our brains like clean environments so much. Here are three:
– A study by Indiana University found that people who clean their houses report superior physical health than those who don’t.
– A 2010 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that people who describe their homes as “cluttered” were more likely to be depressed and fatigued than those who said homes were clean. They also presented a higher level of cortisol in their bodies, which is a hormone linked to stress.
– A 2011 study by Princeton University found that a “cluttered” environment can lead to difficulty to focus. Our visual cortex cannot cope with “task-irrelevant” objects, hampering our ability to allocate attention to single tasks.
So, taking a few minutes to make sure your cushions are nicely placed, that surfaces have been dusted and that all extraneous objects have been put away can go a long way.
2. Add plants
Science has proven it, indoor plants make you feel better. Trust me, I don’t lie (and neither does science). Thanks to an evolutionary trait called biophilia, humans are naturally drawn to other living systems, which includes our plant friends. And not only do they look nice, but they also improve our health.
A study by NASA found that by transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen, plants can eliminate 87% of toxins from the air in 24 hours. Think nice and fresh. And on top of all that they can promote calm and relaxation. I assume you want your visitors to feel relaxed, right?
3. Self-service beverage and snack bar
Offering a beverage and a snack to your visitors is always a nice touch. It makes them feel at ease and shows that your company cares about them. Doesn’t it feel comforting to have a cup of tea before going into a nerve-wracking interview?
But on your busiest days, you might not have enough downtime to actively do that. This doesn’t mean you need to abandon that practice altogether. You can set-up a self-service beverage and snack bar for your visitors. Lay out some coffee, tea, water, muesli bars and a fruit bowl across a table. Add a “please, help yourself” sign and you’ll be good to go. And if you do have time, don’t forget to verbalise it to your visitors.
4. Communicate your brand
There is a theory in psychology called cognitive dissonance, which refers to a mental and physical discomfort we feel when we receive contradicting stimuli. For example, if you had a meeting with a company whose colours are blue and green, you would experience discomfort upon seeing that their reception was painted yellow and red. Another instance is encountering a paper visitor log book at the reception of a company that prides itself on being innovative and tech-driven.
To prevent cognitive dissonance in your reception it’s important to create visual cues that work together in communicating your brand, showing its identity and reducing confusion. You can do that by laying out branded stationary on the counter and tables. By painting your walls with the company’s colours. By having a big office sign with your company’s logo on it. By adding your company logo to your visitor management system kiosk screen. This can make you look more professional, trustworthy and make your visitors more comfortable.
5. Make it cosy
If your visitors have to wait, you might as well make it a pleasant wait. A cosy reception can make your guests feel happy and relaxed. There are a few things that you can do to make your reception feel homey such as:
– Changing the lighting
If you have access to natural light, let it in and only shade it to prevent glare. If not, try to find a good balance between fluorescent lights and yellow lights. This can help you emulate natural light.
Investing in good furniture is crucial to making a cosy reception. You should get something that is both comfy and visually appealing. But most importantly, make sure you test drive the furniture before you let anyone else sit on it. Did you enjoy sitting on it for a good 30 minutes? If the answer is no, you know what to do.
You can play around with the layout of your furniture to alter the mood of your reception. Instead of lining them up, you can have them in a circular disposition, making the room seem friendly and communal. Think poetry reading circle at a cafe and avoid a hospital waiting room.
I challenge you to think of a better way to manipulate an atmosphere than by playing some good music. Think about movies and video games. You can evoke just about anything with music, from suspense to romance. Not many things speak to us in the way that music does. For example, some songs have the incredible ability to take us back to our childhood in just a few seconds.
Scientifically speaking, music can have a series of effects on our brain like “reducing stress, pain and symptoms of depression as well as improving cognitive and motor skills, spatial-temporal learning and neurogenesis, which is the brain’s ability to produce neurons”. You can use music in your reception to create an enjoyable ambience whether to you that means playing the soundtrack of Rocky III or Mozart’s fifth symphony.
Pro tip: music can change our ability to perceive time. So, if you’re worried your visitor might have to wait a while at the reception, just play a classic hit.
7. Ditch the magazines and pick up coffee table books
Half torn, dog-eared magazines look sad. And they also look like you don’t care enough to put in some effort. Instead of newspapers and magazines, pick up some nice coffee table books. They’re visually more exciting, durable, won’t become outdated after a few weeks and look more “upscale”. In addition, people treat books with a lot more care than they treat a magazine or newspaper, so you don’t have to worry about their tearing.
On top of everything, coffee table books can communicate a lot about your brand and company culture. A quirkier company might want something like “Wet Dog” by Sophie Gamand, while a more serious one might go for “Space Utopia” by Vincent Fourier.
Now I’d like to hear from you.
Which strategy from today’s post will you use first?
Let us know by tweeting at us!