When I was the President or Chief Executive, I was often told that I served as a good external “face of the company.” Although I was flattered, I have always felt that the true face of the company is the impression left from the “first human interaction” an outsider has with the company. Therefore, in my opinion, the most important faces of the company are the receptionists, secretaries, administrative assistants and executive assistants. And rather than getting less important in the digital age, the impression given by these people becomes more important. Let me expound.
As I watch the digital revolution solve communications gaps of the past—speed, mobility, compactness, software commonality, geography—I also see more people skipping the telephone, personal visit or handwritten note, and opting to rely on text and email for communication. How many handwritten thank you notes have you received from vendors, versus emails? Yet hand writing a personal note is fast, easy, and much, much more impactful.
In this digital era, companies have de-emphasized the role of the company administrative staff. In fact, there is a trend to skip it altogether, relying instead on digital voicemail directories. You know the drill: “If you know the name of the person, push ‘1’ for a company directory…”
I have also talked to people in the hallways and watched as ringing phones go un-answered because it was inconvenient for the receiver to be bothered at that moment. As a result, many times I have played phone tag with people in the voicemail loop. Each time, I get angry that I have to acquiesce to their convenience and not mine. I may be old fashioned, but I think this is a disaster for a company’s personal culture, especially […]