HomeOpinion & AnalysisWhat is it like being a receptionist?

What is it like being a receptionist?


BY Emmanuel Zvada
Being a receptionist can be a fulfilling and rewarding job that can pay generous wages and lead to career progression. The power and influence of receptionists in general is crucial in reflecting the culture of the company hence this article will give insights on receptionist tips and tricks that will benefit the company at large. A receptionists is often the first employee of an organisation to have contact with a customer or client. They are responsible for making a good first impression of the organisation.

What it means to be a receptionist?

The receptionist is the first person visitors meet in your office. Being so, receptionists has strong influence on a visitor’s perception. Receptionists answer inquiries and provide information to the general public, customers, visitors, and other interested parties regarding activities conducted at the establishment and location of departments, offices, and employees within the organisation. They also operate telephone switchboards to answer, screen or forward calls, providing information, taking message, or scheduling appointments. Front office people can ether give a good or bad image of the company hence organisations should also make sure they invest much in them. For most receptionists, there are areas these may need additional training and they will be discussed below.

Key skills of receptionist

emotionally intelligent skills

Having high emotional intelligence and the ability to successfully manage your emotions in challenging situations will likely improve the outcome of your actions. Emotional intelligence is a valuable skill, but improving it takes patience and determination. Having emotional intelligence can help you avoid those situations where you might act on impulse rather than fact. Understanding and managing your emotions and those of others can help you be more successful in your personal and professional life.

They must be great communicators and listeners

The receptionist’s oral communication skills should be excellent. If your receptionist cannot communicate properly, there is always a chance for improvement as long as the person is determined. Communication skills are the best asset that a receptionist can have. They communicate with clients face-to-face and virtually. If you are a receptionist you should have the ability to speak well and convey information clearly. Active listening and great customer service skills also are a must. A talented receptionist can connect callers and visitors with the right employees, as well as handle basic customer service problems and requests adeptly.

Strong technology skills

Office technology is constantly changing and receptionists must be able to operate a variety of equipment and systems. Phone systems usually have more than one line and multiple functions. Computer skills are a must, particularly word processing and email. Receptionists, who are also conversant with spreadsheet, desktop publishing or other industry-specific, software have additional skills that are in demand. Receptionists often perform several administrative tasks, from receiving visitors and answering phone calls, to scheduling appointments for clients and customers. Many receptionists are expected to have previous experience using phone systems, printers, copiers, and familiarity with MS Word and Excel.

Properly groomed with pleasing personality

Since the receptionist is the first person to greet visitors as they come through the door, they should be well groomed and wear standard business attire. A pleasing personality is more a combination of being friendly, helpful, approachable, cheerful and other pleasing traits that make talking to the person a pleasant experience. Note that a pleasing personality does not mean a pretty face, although beauty adds to it. Any business would benefit from a friendly smile and pleasant personality that greets customers. A receptionist is such an employee. A visitor walking into the office is often received by the receptionist as they are the first person anybody meets or sees.

Exceptional organisational skills

A good receptionist balances her strong interpersonal qualities with effective organisational skills. Receptionists are the people that represent the face of the company, aside from taking calls and directing visitors, they often deal with clients, organise events and set up meetings. They must maintain an organised workspace and must be able to communicate clearly and efficiently with customers, suppliers, associates and supervisors. In a business office, the receptionist often prepares outgoing mail and receives incoming mail. To handle these tasks properly, they must have a system in place that lets them access the right information in a timely and accurate manner.

Receptionists must be multi-skilled

The best receptionists go the extra mile to help out in any way they can, and one of the best ways to do this is to learn new and varied skills, and to use these to benefit the company. For example, receptionists usually interact with visiting clients and potential customers in an informal and relaxed manner when they arrive. Proactive individuals can use these encounters to help the sales and marketing teams by identifying where potential customers heard about the company and by attempting to identify what their specific business needs are. These extra skills can really help receptionists to flourish as important team members of an organisation.

Complaints handling techniques

Often, the receptionist is the one who hears the complaints since they deal with clients first. Even if they are not the ones responsible for the problem, they may have to bear harsh words. The ability to effectively handle customer complaints and problems is vital for receptionists. Though providing outstanding service throughout the selling process is beneficial, customers who complain and get their problems effectively solved often develop a strong emotional loyalty to a business. Always reply to any complaint you receive either in person or in writing. If you feel that your company is in the wrong apologise to the customer and look into the complaint with an open mind as one customer can tarnish the whole image of the company.

Dress to impress and be respectful

When you are a receptionist, you are the first person that a customer sees and interacts with, so it’s very important that your appearance reflects well on the business. Before heading to the office, make sure your appearance is professional and ready to welcome success. You are representing a business thus you should be professionally dressed. The first thing to keep in mind when dressing as reception is achieving a business-appropriate appeal. Low-cut tops and short dresses or skirts simply are not office appropriate and can reflect poorly on the company. If your business is okay with casual dress, just remember that you should never dress too casually.

Ability to handle stress

Among the other traits of a receptionist, one of the most important is the ability to handle stress. Dealing with customers is not always a pleasant experience, hence the receptionists should have their own way of coping with stress. While interacting with customers they also have to be highly diplomatic and courteous. Being a receptionist is a demanding job.

A receptionist must be able to handle workplace stress. An office could suddenly change from a pleasant day to an emotionally bad day due to clients or customers, and so a receptionist must know how to manage stress. In actual fact all receptionist should know how to handle stress as they are prone to
meet different people who come with a different levels of stress.

Efficiently handling a busy office traffic

As a receptionist, you are responsible for attending to customers while managing other duties concurrently. A receptionist must be good at handling traffic. A lot of people come to any organisation and are directed where to go by the receptionists. When your reception area gets busy, don’t let your frustration get the better of you. Remember, you are often the first face a customer sees  or the first voice a customer hears when doing business with your company.

A receptionist is often the first-person clients see or communicate with when they conduct business in person or by phone. Their personal qualities make a lasting impression on potential and existing clients. Because of this, it’s important for them to have personal qualities that make clients feel welcome and satisfied with the manner in which they meets their needs.

  • Emmanuel Zvada is a human capital consultant/international recruitment expert and author. He writes here in his personal capacity.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading