Your ‘Manager, First Impressions’ could be your weakest link.

by | Success ideas for work and life

I am seeing a physiotherapist. I needed to make another appointment and clarify the health benefits claim form, so I called her ‘Manager, First Impressions’, but in a senior moment, I forgot the physiotherapist’s name. At this location of the practice there are only 2 Physios; a man and a woman; Jeff and Bronwyn.

A major Manager, First Impressions fail

    Me: I’m a patient, Colin Pearce, and I need to make another appointment with … Beryl … Brenda … sorry, I’m having a memory fade.
    Not yet competent Manager of First Impressions (NYCMOFI): We don’t have a Beryl.
    Me: Well … Brenda, then?
    NYCMOFI: No-one here called Brenda. What are you calling about?
    Me: I’m a patient, Colin Pearce, and I need to make another appointment with … Beryl … Brenda … and as I said, I’m sorry but I’m having a memory fade.
    NYCMOFI: Well we have no-one here by the name of Beryl or Brenda.
    Me: I saw the physio there three days ago and her name started with B. Who else do you have?
    NYCMOFI: There’s Bronwyn.
    Me: Ah! there you go. May I speak with Bronwyn, please?
    NYCMOFI: She’s not here. What was it about?
    Me: She asked me to make a new appointment and to clarify an issue with the health insurance claim form. Can you take some details, please?
    NYCMOFI: Best thing to do is email her.
    Me: Don’t you know about health claim forms?
    NYCMOFI: Like I said, the best thing to do is ask Bronwyn.
    Me: Actually THE best thing is for you to take my number, and leave a note for Bronwyn to call me.

What your Manager, First Impressions might not understand

Who pays the wages? Not the pay officer, Not the boss. Not the government. It’s us—the ordinary numpties out here—your patients, customers, clients or taxpayers. We demand OUR right to YOUR respect and duty of care. If you don’t give it, we don’t feel inclined to cooperate with you in any way at all. You, yourself might be an absolute Ace at caring for callers. What’s your ‘Manager, First Impressions’ doing for you, though?

Manager, First Impressions?

When Grahame Cooke was CEO of LJ Hooker he engaged me to work on a number of projects together and he asked me to make a set of audio tapes (Note for GEN Y readers: audio tapes are small plastic boxes with long strands of magnetised plastic that strangle seagulls in rubbish dumps) for the 600 Managers of First Impressions, employed in LJ Hooker franchise offices. Normally referred to as ‘receptionists’, Mr. Cooke wanted them to see themselves as very important people with a very important role. ‘You only get one chance at a first impression,’ he’d say, ‘and for most clients of a real estate office, the first impression comes from the first person to answer the phone. Let’s get our Managers of First Impressions fully equipped to do their job properly.’

Is your Manager of First Impressions a business killer or a business kindler?

We patients, clients and prospects calling your practice, business or organisation aren’t the brightest lot – and yet WE pay YOUR wages. You need us. You (probably) know this but your Manager of First Impressions might not have worked it out. You’d be surprised if you asked him/her, ‘Who pays the wages around here?’ You’d hope to hear one answer: ‘The callers/customers/patients’, but I will be surprised if you get that answer. The idea of kindling business to create a warm glow in order to maintain their wages is as far from their thoughts as Betelgeuse is from Earth. And guess whose fault that is. Not theirs. It lands right on the beak of a little black duck about your size!

Once an employee works out that callers are NOT pests, problems or pains, they also work out that the more problems they solve for callers the more employable they are.

Is your Manager, First Impressions fully informed and equipped?

When the physio called me back I dobbed on the Manager of First Impressions and made it reasonably clear that the said employee, was totally under-trained and uninformed and that the practice needed a book of procedures and half a dozen scripts which the Manager of First Impressions needed to memorise. I suggested that the employee needed better management.
I just hope it doesn’t back-fire when I go for my next stretching and muscle care procedure!
Nearly every business has this problem and (dare I say it?), if you are like them, YOU HAVE NO IDEA about the amount of money and good will that never hits your bank balance because out there all on his or her own your Manager of First Impressions is having a jolly old time being not-yet-competent. I have thousands of stories to prove it.

There’s a cure

If you want to rescue yourself, grab a copy of the 2 CD set (post free) Great Phone Skills. (Sorry to be so blunt and recommend you buy without warming you up with 20 emails about it, but seriously, you’ve left it too long already, and as Muhammed Ali said to Joe Frazier at the ref’s briefing for the ‘Thrilla in Manila’, ‘Y’all in trouble sucker!’)

Feel free to leave a story, or comment by scrolling way down to Nova Scotia below and leaving your mark for posterity.

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