This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0
 

  The Herman Trend Alert

October 15, 2003

Building Relationships

Wal-Mart stores have a long-established tradition of greeting customers as they walk in the door. The company typically hires senior citizens for this important position, enjoying their maturity, dedication, and sincerity in serving customers and representing the company. People shopping in Wal-Mart Stores have an expectation that, if they have questions or concerns, there will be someone right there at the front door to help them solve their problems.

We've seen other retailers follow this same practice---from restaurants to boutique shops to automobile dealers. No sales focus or other responsibilities are involved; just a warm welcome. A number of employers, particularly those with large facilities, employ greeters---to monitor security as well as foster those valuable relationships.

Does this make sense? Will more employers assign people to serve as greeters, to welcome customers and other visitors, answer questions, and solve problems? Will these employees be solely focused on this role, or will this responsibility be an additional task assumed by employees with other duties? What difference will it make?

As technology fills an increasing role in consumer interaction, customers will feel more separated from companies they do business with. This depreciation of customer-supplier relationships will erode loyalty, putting dependable revenue flow at risk. Wise employers will strengthen human-to- human interaction to build loyalty and consumer satisfaction, particularly at critical connection points like welcoming people and responding to complaints. Whenever someone may be confused about how to interact with an organization, opportunity for human contact will be especially valuable.

Union Regional Medical Center, Monroe, North Carolina, stations official greeters in the lobby next to the reception desk. These greeters add an extra welcome to what visitors already receive from the receptionists. They answer questions, solve problems, and escort people to the correct elevators, hospital services or facilities, or offices in the building.

Surprisingly, the people who perform this work, on a scheduled basis, are hospital executives and mangers. Being helped by a high level executive (yes, even the Chief Executive Officer participates) sends a clear message to visitors and employees that treating guests (and patients) well is essential. This is the future.


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