Recently, we Googled the words “receptionists are,” and here are Google’s suggested searches according to its autofill function:

Receptionists are rude, stupid, always female, and dumb according to Google autofill

Why are receptionists perceived as rude and stupid?  While both the caller and the receptionist may be to blame, it is up to the professional receptionist on the receiving end (pun intended) to counter this impression.

Receptionists are the voice and image of your firm.
Visitors who arrive at your front desk expect the absolute highest level of service, no matter what type of visitor he/she may be—investor, client, patient, consumer, mail delivery person.  They are the kings and queens, and you are simply part of their kingdom; failing to demonstrate gratitude, poise, and professionalism is considered offensive.

And they’re right.  Businesses are in business because of the investors, shareholders, clients, customers and consumers that invest their time and money into it.  As the receptionist, you are quite often the first point of contact for these crucial individuals.  The experience they have with you has more of an impact than you can imagine.

Pro Tip: When greeting someone, whether it is on the phone or in person, do not multitask.  Take a moment to stop what you are doing, and focus completely on the individual.  Really listen to their request—“I’m here to see…” “I’m experiencing a problem with…” “I’d like more information about…”—and take the necessary steps to fulfill their request.  

Customer service skills, particularly as the first point of contact, are crucial to a business’s reputation.  According to a 2012 blog post by Yelp, “70% of “bad” customer service experiences [with a company] are given [a] 1 star [rating].”  They also compiled words most often associated with positive customer service reviews: among them were “friendly,” “helpful,” and “nice.”  Add these qualities to your arsenal. 

word cloud for assistants

The front desk can be a pressure cooker.
As a receptionist, it is absolutely imperative that you do not allow yourself to be affected by these outside influences.  Think of your reception desk as a zen bubble continually circulating nothing but positivity, smiles, and infectious energy.  When calls come through, they come into your bubble: take a deep breath and smile, answer the phone in an upbeat tone, listen, and take notes.  Regardless of the chaos in the background, as a receptionist, it is your duty to give the caller your absolute attention.

Pro Tip: Keep all of the names of the people you meet, and messages you take for others written down in one central location i.e., a carbon-copy message book, like this one.  If someone happens to lose a client’s contact information, or you need to recall a guest’s name, you will have all of the information readily available without having to rely on your memory or those finicky post-its (which inevitably get buried on your desk, anyway). 

Do you have any other pro tips for receptionists?

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