With the rise of greater technology, a new phenomenon is sweeping over corporate foyers all across the nation in recent years: the unmanned reception area.
Cognitively it makes sense to let technology do what it does best, which is automate and reduce. However, the strangeness of walking into a corporation that lacks a human face makes this popular new trend hard to rationalise.
|With space hard to come by and the cost of talent on the rise, its arguable that companies can do away with what has traditionally been dubbed the ‘meeter and greeter’. But at what cost to your brand, your client list and your image when would-be employees turn up for an interview only to be greeted by an ipad?
Yes, we’re all supposed to be tech-savvy and children are saying Siri before Mum and Dad these days, but to what degree can technology replace humanity as the first interaction with an otherwise unknown quantity? And if we’re being pushed into the technological corner, how can we soften this harsh new reality?
I would contend that all interactions between your organisation and the public, whether courier or Chairman, becomes part of your overall image. It makes sense then to leverage the opportunity for connection instead of dehumanise it.
Here’s 3 ways to remake the role of your reception area:
If space is your issue, downsize your reception to a concierge station. By reducing the size and facility of the function, and even sharing this service with other organisations taking up residence in the same building, you retain the human face and your visitors get where they need to go, without paying an arm and a leg for the pleasure.
Some organisations are flipping this argument and placing more, not less, of their workforce out front! By increasing staffing and establishing this front-of-house function as a working department in its own right, visitors are well looked after and space which may have once been underutilised is humming with meaningful activity!
Technology is here to stay, and it brings with it a plethora of opportunities for innovation. Why not leverage the tech and turn the unloved ipad into a virtual avatar or remote virtual assistant who is designed to make a charming first impression, or use the opportunity to embed your branding through looped, interactive videos which engage your waiting clientele.
Not to be forgotten is the need to create an inviting space through the use of brand, colour, soft furnishings and tactile finishes. Cold, stark ‘waiting room’ type reception areas are history. Whether you retain the human presence or not, it doesn’t cost much to introduce soothing background music or warm lighting into your reception space, and the return can be huge.
You only have one chance to make first impression, and by combining the wonders of modern technology with the warmth of real human connection, you compound your influence and can find you’ve captivated your audience the second they walk through the door.