(And I’ll give you a hint – whatever the size of your business the answer isn’t “No One”)
You can tell a lot about the culture of a business from the Receptionist.
And the culture of a business – the beliefs, values, philosophies, attitudes - has direct repercussions on the ability of that business to successfully communicate, engage, and ‘rust – on’ customers.
I rang a professional services business the other day.
They provide body corporate administration. I have been dealing with them for over 20 years – though only 4 years actively (as one of those poor sods who gets roped in to sit on a body corporate/owners committee and argue about whether we should paint the mail boxes or buy a new hose). We have had a new account manager for the past 12 months and our contract is up for renewal for about the 40th time in the history of the apartment block. We have fallen behind on ongoing maintenance so I wanted to chat to the General Manager about the next 12 months of services, who would be managing our account, our fees for 2010 and when our current list of property management jobs would be complete.
Receptionist answered “Welcome to Numb Nuts Body Corporate Management”.
And I asked what I thought was a reasonable question.
“Hi, this is BG of Property Address. Can you tell me the name of your General Manager please?:
“So I can address him by his name when I speak to him....”
“It is not a sales call – I am a client – of Property Address”.
“....well...(indecisive and a bit pissed)...It’s Fred Nuts...”
“Great – Is he available?”
“Can I leave a message?”
“He’s in a meeting”
“Fine – Can I leave a message?
“What is it about?”
“It is about Property Address”.
“I’ll put you through to his voice mail”.
Now the Receptionist is probably a lovely person. But quite obviously she sees her role (and we can only presume this comes from how she has been directed by her manager) as protecting Numb Nuts personnel from having to actually speak to customers.
What does that tell you about the culture?
What does that tell you about how the ‘organisation’ communicates?
What does it tell you about the value they place on their customers’ needs or wants?
Now , Numb Nuts have a Marketing Manager. They are a small biz so the Marketing manager does it all – runs their ad campaigns, makes sure they have nice shiny brochures, exhibits at industry events.
What is the value of the marketing manager’s efforts (and the marketing budget) in positioning the business, generating leads, soliciting enquiries, promoting their services when it is undone with just one surly “Why?”
So, who is your marketing manager?
You may not pay your front of house staff what you pay your marketing manager. But they hold the 'marketing' of the business in their hands.
Aren’t the people who come into contact with a potential or existing customer – whether that contact be face to face, online, or via their use of your product or service - the ones who do the most, whether they mean to or not, to convey the culture of your business.
Doesn't the person who answers the phone, or the driver who does the delivery, contribute towards the voice of your business by either reinforcing, contridicting or maybe even improving your other marketing endeavours?
And doesn’t that mean that your whole organisation is (from the solo business through to a big corporation) in fact The Marketing Department?