What does your reception area say about your dealership?
First impressions count. So what does your dealership reception area say about your business? A reception area sets the scene for the rest of the customer journey, and with so much competition out there a bowl of candy on the desk might not be enough these days.
It’s not just customers, either. Positive Purchasing, a global procurement training company, recently conducted a survey evaluating reception areas and found businesses aren’t capitalizing on the opportunity to create a lasting impression on suppliers either.
So here are five useful ways to ensure your reception area is always a customer-friendly, supplier-impressing experience.
A smile goes a long way
Staff should be trained to ensure that first point of contact with the customer leaves a positive impression for the rest of the customer journey. Create a comfortable and inviting ambiance. Greeting people warmly with a relaxing and friendly smile is a great start as it puts the customer at ease and gives them their first taste of how you do business.
You can also enhance your customer’s comfort by providing a self-serve refreshment station or simply offering them a cup of coffee or water while they wait. These small actions can make a large difference to the waiting experience and generate positive feelings towards your business.
Keep it clean and clutter-free
If your reception area is dirty and unkempt it tells the customer your business is unorganized and messy. Keep the reception desk clutter-free. The tire trade can be a dirty one but do what you can to keep everything free of dirty marks and smears. Provide hand sanitizer dispensers for customers.
Consider bringing live plants into the reception to give the space some tranquility and freshness.
Liven up the waiting experience
It’s important the customer is not left sitting in your waiting room with nothing to do or no idea when they will be seen. Always let the customer know how long their wait will be as it’s these introductions that provide insight into the culture of the company as a whole.
Keep a stockpile of interesting and varied reading material to occupy the waiting customer. Remember that while you might be in the tire business not everyone is interested in cars so keep up-to-date copies of non-auto alternatives, like National Geographic or People, on hand. This is also a great opportunity to provide industry and company branded literature for them to flip through while they wait as it promotes your business and services.
Also acknowledge the customer is probably busy and provide productive ways for them to spend their wait time. Free and easily accessible Wi-Fi and electronic charging stations for cell phones are great ways to enhance the customer experience.
Design decisions set the scene
A functional, inviting and aesthetically pleasing design and layout will help make a good impression. Elements to consider are the wall and furniture colors, background sounds and lighting. Choose cool and calming colors for the upholstery and walls to promote a professional yet relaxed business environment that will resonate with the customer and leave a lasting impression. Make sure the furniture is durable and doesn’t scuff easily and the reception desk is a suitable height. A high desk can be intimidating.
If you want to play background music, make sure it’s not so loud that it overpowers the entire space. Make sure the music matches the ambiance of the room. Pioneer marketing company EPPG recommends soothing instrumental jazz and classical selections. Similarly, lighting should be adequate and not too harsh. Consider natural lighting as it gives a feeling of space and reassurance.
5. Create a sense of company identity
Your reception area is the perfect place to present your vision and values to the customer. This can be achieved through positive brand messages and materials. Easily communicate this through use of corporate logos and colors. Plain walls are not only boring, but say very little about your company and what you do. Create a brand-wall behind the reception desk to showcase your corporate timeline or product imagery. Also use lighting to your advantage by installing halo lighting around your company logo so it’s the first thing the customer notices.
Display products and any awards for the customer to see. Use display screens to promote key messages and company information for the customer to read while they wait. This can educate them on your company’s products and services and adds to the customer experience.
Make sure it works
Inc’s Margaret Heffernan suggests putting your reception area to the test by getting a friend to come and rate their customer experience. Getting their feedback could help you learn something and allow you to make improvements. Remember: you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make it count.