When I was at Uni, I studied a Social Policy module that discussed at length the idea of Receptionists being the gatekeepers of a service or the guardians of an organisation. The premise being that they are the first people you speak to in an organisation and they also have the power to connect or refuse you, let you past or block you.

In commercial terms, this is the difference between reaching a contact (and a potential deal) or being frustrated at the first point of interaction. There are plenty of sales blogs -and probably books- on how to build rapport to convince Reception to utter the immortal line:

Putting you through…

In the public sector, this effect is more pronounced. Take a Doctor’s Surgery for example. Depending on the individual Receptionist’s personality, the autonomy they have been given, or just taken, their split-second decision could govern how quickly you speak to or see a doctor, if at all. This is theoretical and (hopefully) not a real-life factor in access to public services, but how many times have we been frustrated by a lack of cooperation from the person behind the desk, or the person on the phone — the first person we speak with in an organisation?

I enjoy chatting to Social Media teams. Depending on the organisation they can be really helpful, completely obstructive, or ignore you completely. Although I see engaging them as something of a game, it strikes me that increasingly, the person manning the Twitter Account is becoming the gatekeeper of the organisation.

The power they hold in their hands!

Flip that over though and these decisions could also mean an organisation misses genuine idea or opportunity, filtered out before it reaches the person who really needs to see it. Could the decisions of the social media person, taken in the interest of ‘protecting’ the organisation, actually be costing it?

Here, where the no names policy was stringent, a quick search (kindly suggested by @purplesime) took me to the South West Trains website. Helpfully, the name, email address, mobile number and a nice photo of exactly the person I needed to speak with were all there for public access. We’re now in conversation over something that could be great for both of us.

By Andy Swann on November 3, 2014.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.