Go Ask Alice, She's Almost Booted Up

At most companies I visit, I'm greeted by a receptionist who would rather be somewhere else. He or she takes my name, calls the person I'm there to visit, waves me to a chair, lets me sit down just long enough to find a 6 month-old magazine of interest, and calls me back up to sign in and usually get a badge. Then I go back to find a different chair and magazine and wait for my contact. If I think about grabbing a cup of coffee, I usually change my mind after noticing that the pot has baked down quite a ways since it was brewed back in 1843. Ugh.

In some really progressive companies' lobbies, I'm greeted by a telephone and a beautifully laminated phone list. In a perspex holder. When it's not masking-taped to the countertop.

Feel all warm & fuzzy & welcomed?

But what frightens me still more is this: Alice, the virtual receptionist. Go check her out. It's okay, I'll wait.

Placed on a kiosk or a wall, so you can walk up and interact with... a TV.


Retro TV CommercialIt's not bad enough that companies are trying to remove the last vestiges of humanity from so many of their interactions with you, now they want to not even put in the time to greet you when you walk into their offices? It's not enough that we all have to deal with "Press 4 to reach our loan department" voice response units on nearly every single phone call to a company these days, now we have them sitting behind a desk making the first impression on our customers too?

Wouldn't you much rather be greeted by a living, breathing human greeter, so personable that she made you smile even before you walked through the doors because you remember how nice she was last time? Who remembers their names of your kids and chats briefly and genuinely with you about how you did in the 10K you mentioned you were training for last time you were here? All while she makes you a coffee or tea (she knows which you prefer) in a ceramic cup and saucer and escorts you to a chair near recent magazines which correspond to your interests? All while the computer system which helped her remember these items signalled your contact of your arrival so she didn't have to do anything that would take her attention from you?

Well, that's what we at The Damascus Group think.

Are we wrong? Which would you prefer? Personal or impersonal?