Your reception reveals more than you think

imageLast year for the first time I had to go to a nationally well-known big medical institution. I reported to reception and said I had an appointment with Mr. Jansen of the X department in room Y. The receptionist immediately asked if I had a telephone number as well – but I didn’t. Oh, that was a nuisance: it made things difficult.

The institution, or at least its central reception, didn’t seem to have a system by which they could find the phone number of a member of staff. Or if they did, it didn’t work. At reception they didn’t know the department. And the room number, hmm, that was complicated. The best thing to do was to go up to the first floor – it should be there somewhere – and ask somebody at reception L.

So off I went to reception L. But they didn’t know my Mr. Jansen there either, and they had never heard of his department – back to reception desk in the entrance hall. Finally a friendly member of staff on the first floor led me all round her floor until we discovered the room number, pretty well by accident.

First I had to have a smirk about all this: you see what happens when you focus too much on your main activities! And obviously here they are far and away the most important. That’s reassurring…until the doubts crept in.

The difficulty in finding somewhere, the poor directions and the inadequate reception were so obvious and regrettable that no normal organisation would allow it. Seemingly they didn’t find it really abnormal. Would it be any different in the departments that are the heart of the institution? Or are they very inward-looking too and work alongside each other without really working together? That could have fatal consequences.

A few months later, after something of a to-do with at lot of ill-feeling, that particular institution was subjected to much closer surveillance by the Inspection. Still later, almost all of the board of directors resigned.

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of a good reception… it is a highly visible indication of quality.

A blog by Frank Geene