The front office describes the area — literal or virtual — of a customer service or hospitality business where customers interact with customer service representatives. In a hotel, for example, the front office is where clients make reservations, learn about local attractions, and request services and amenities. One of the most important tips for front office organization is to have the right staff for the size of an establishment. For instance, the manager of a small motel with only a few rooms might only need to have one employee on duty at a time. This individual can check customers in and out, provide information, and perform receptionist and filing duties.
When an organization is larger, however, front office organization should be more complex. A large hotel in the center of an urban area is likely to attract many customers at one time, many of whom might have questions and requests that need to be taken care of immediately. These establishments might have several representatives on duty at one time to take reservations and perform check in an check out procedures. A concierge might be responsible for directing customers to local entertainment and sometimes even coordinating group events. Many establishments employ porters who assist customers in unloading luggage from their cars and carrying luggage up to their rooms.
A front office manager is an essential component of most front office organizations. This is a professional who is in charge of creating schedules for front office workers and overseeing all front office operations. He or she might dictate procedures for handling customers and for filing information. A front office manager might also work with clients who are unhappy with services or high profile clients, such as celebrities and executives.
Another important factor in front office organization is how it communicates with the back office. When professionals talk about the back office, they are referring to all of the actions that take place in departments such as accounting, human resources, and general business and financial planning. A financial manager, for example, needs to access all of the information regarding payments, refunds, and accounts receivable that are recorded in the front office. In most cases, communication between the front office and back office is facilitated by front office software that includes interfaces where front office workers can record information that is accessible to back office workers.
One of the most important tips for front office organization is to have protocol for how all front office workers communicate with customers. In most cases, clients' first impressions of an establishment are determined in a front office. Most clients want to communicate with workers who are polite and welcoming and who are well organized.