What Would Shawn Do? Dealing with an Employee Who Makes a Bad First Impression

Q:

We hired a young woman, Chelsea, for the receptionist position about six months ago. She has a great work ethic, always shows up on time, and is an above-average performer.

We have a very busy front desk with a high call volume. This receptionist answers the phone promptly and directs the calls appropriately, but her tone makes it seem like she’s either bored or annoyed. She’s very brusque and flat. It seems rather offputting to the caller. What should I do?

A:

Your receptionist needs some coaching. The conversation should go something like:

“Chelsea, you’re doing a great job handling our front desk, and I really appreciate your hard work! I would like to mention that your tone of voice when answering the phone doesn’t seem very welcoming. I wonder if you could try to lighten your tone and make it seem like answering the call is the most important thing you could be doing at that moment.”

Try telling her to smile before picking up the phone. It’s really hard to sound like a grump when you’re smiling.

Good luck!

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