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  Service Stars

The receptionist who created
a positive first impression

Satisfactory customer service is seldom memorable. What is memorable is poor service and service that goes the extra mile. Sometimes it only takes a small gesture to change a routine customer service experience into one we will recall months later, we will tell others about and will cause us to become repeat customers. Those who do those little extras are truly Service Stars.

The position of receptionist is undervalued in many organizations. Managers believe it is not a very challenging job! Anyone can answer the phone, take messages, validate parking and ask visitors to wait until someone (read "someone important") is available to meet with them.

What a narrow view of the receptionist’s role. Here is the person who creates the visitor’s first impression of the organization, whether over the telephone or in person. Truly, a "Coordinator of First Impressions." A skilled receptionist can get the organization’s relationship with a new customer off to a good start by being pleasant, efficient and knowledgeable.

Ellen is someone who creates the positive first impression. She was the receptionist on duty when I visited the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund office in Edmonton recently to fill out some paperwork related to my pension.

When I arrived Ellen was on the telephone. Without interrupting the caller, she made eye contact, smiled and held up a finger to indicate she would be with me in a moment. Finishing with the caller, she smiled again and asked how she could help. I asked for one of two pension consultants. Ellen said she would call one as the other was on the phone, adding, "as I am now" when the telephone rang just as she was reaching for the handset to call the available consultant. She quickly redirected the caller, and then dialed the available consultant.

The consultant was not at her desk. Ellen said that she would go and find her. Before leaving the reception area, she put a sign on her counter to inform other visitors she would be back in a moment. Within seconds she returned with the consultant in tow.

Ellen handled her role with such professionalism that as the visitor, I felt valued and confident that my needs were important to her. What a great first impression for any receptionist to create.


Nelson Scott offers several Customer Service Presentations, including Customer Service MAGIC: Changing Complainers into Loyal Customers; What Your Mother Taught You About Customer Service and other Training Resources developed by Service Quality Institute and the Vital Learning Corporation.


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© Nelson Scott.  All rights reserved.

A professional trainer, speaker, and consultant since 1995, Nelson Scott works with organizations that are committed to making the right hiring decisions, developing and retaining productive staff, and strengthening relationships with customers.  Learn more by visiting or e-mailing


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