10 Important Qualities of What Makes a Good Receptionist

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 July 2021

If you're someone who has excellent customer service skills, then being a receptionist may be a good career path for you. When working in this role, you're responsible for liaising communications between co-workers, clients and customers. As you determine if this is the ideal job for you, it's important to know what qualities and skills an employer is looking for in a receptionist. In this article, we discuss what makes a good receptionist, along with advice on how to develop some of the top qualities of a good receptionist.

What is a receptionist?

Receptionists are the first point of contact in a business and have a responsibility to provide excellent customer care. That's why customer service is one of the most important skills for a receptionist to have, as they often represent the company for which they work. Their organisational and multi-tasking abilities help staff members stay on track and keep the business running smoothly. Some common responsibilities for this role include the following job duties:

  • Greets visitors, directing them to the appropriate area of the building.

  • Communicates with staff, letting them know when their visitors have arrived.

  • Answers phone calls, directing them to the correct person or taking messages.

  • Screens incoming emails, forwarding them to the correct team member.

  • Helps guests schedule upcoming appointments.

  • Answers basic questions about the company.

  • Maintains an organised and clean front-desk area.

  • Uses software to schedule meetings, message clients, input data and track projects.

  • Performs clerical work, such as filing documents, making copies, stocking office supplies or recording notes.

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What makes a good receptionist?

When working as a receptionist, you need to have excellent customer service and communication skills. Along with these, a good receptionist has the following skills and qualities:

Customer service

A receptionist is often a customer's first point of contact. The way a receptionist interacts with customers reflects on the company as a whole. Receptionists need to be pleasant, accommodating and attentive. Sometimes all it takes is a smile and being able to provide the right answers. By being a friendly person, clients or customers may see the company more favourably.

The goal of providing great customer service is to create customer satisfaction and generate repeat business. If the customer service department at your favourite clothing store didn't address your shipment mishap, then you'd probably never deal with them again. If they fixed the problem right away and give you a discount on a future purchase, you may be more inclined to shop with them again. The same may be apparent when a receptionist treats a guest with kindness and respect.

Related: What Is Customer Service?

Organisation

The ideal receptionist is very organised. Co-workers, employers and anyone else who has to deal with the office⁠ may highly value this skill. Good receptionists create efficient filing systems, sort contacts and paperwork and ensure the software stays updated. They can pull up phone numbers, documents and other bits of information at a moment's notice.

A receptionist looks to create a clutter-free workspace. Lawyers, for example, are very dependent upon a legal receptionist or secretary's organisational abilities, without which they would have challenges knowing appointment times, client contact information and court dates. With strong organisation skills, a receptionist can ensure their employer is meeting important deadlines and following the proper protocols.

Communication

Receptionists are always interacting with people, whether by phone, email or face-to-face. On a typical day, this individual liaises between customers, staff members and various departments.

Receptionists take down messages and are often the middle person in points of conversation. By properly passing along messages, a receptionist can ensure streamlined communications occur. Effective and clear communication, both written and verbal, is an important skill for a receptionist to have, as it makes for a more productive workday.

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Technical abilities

Receptionists often use computer software programs and correspond via email. Familiarity with Microsoft Word and Excel is almost a must for these professionals, as is being able to operate photocopiers and phone systems.

Aspiring receptionists can highlight their computer skills and technical abilities to appear more attractive to potential employers. If candidates lack this knowledge, they might consider enrolling in a course at their local university. Staying updated on new software programs and learning about the specific tools that are being used in a specific industry can make candidates more competitive.

Related: Excel Skills: Definition and Examples

Multitasking

Receptionists need to have the ability to multitask, especially in a fast-paced work environment. Skilled receptionists are often putting people on hold and handling multiple phone conversations at once, all while dealing with whoever just walked through the door—and maybe there's a line, too.

Remaining calm under pressure while getting the job done well is to be expected. Typically, receptionists have many tasks that need to complete by the end of the day. It's their responsibility to prioritise the most important ones and dedicate the appropriate amount of time to each one.

Friendliness

Since receptionists are the first person who guests see, it's important that they greet them in a friendly and professional manner. Receptionists are responsible for helping people with questions and directing them to the correct place, meaning that this role is ideal for people who are patient, friendly and helpful.

Even if a guest is upset, receptionists need to keep their friendly demeanour, figuring out a way to solve the situation. By exhibiting these interpersonal skills, a receptionist can build a positive reputation for their company. This can help encourage guests to return to the business and even leave a favourable review.

Problem-solving

Whether it's a coworker asking for a schedule change or a guest calling with a unique question, receptionists need to have strong problem-solving skills to overcome these challenges. Even if a receptionist doesn't have the answer to a question, their problem-solving skills can help them figure out who does. Fielding questions and finding answers are essential parts of this role.

In order for a receptionist to be a good problem-solver, they need to know the company well. During their training, they need to be attentive and take notes. Asking smart questions can help receptionists better understand the processes of the company and eventually be more independent.

Related: Thinking Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

Attentiveness

Since a receptionist sees who comes in and out of a business, they are somewhat responsible for the security of the company. By being attentive, they can ensure only the appropriate people are entering the workspace. Likewise, their attention to detail can help them ensure guests have the correct identification and credentials to be there.

Attentiveness is also an important quality to have when working with scheduling matters. A receptionist needs to be aware of potential conflicting schedules and meeting times, meaning they need to pay attention to details. By getting to know their colleague's schedules, they can better anticipate how busy they are on a given day.

Trustworthiness

Receptionists often work with sensitive data and information, which is why employers look for candidates they can trust. For instance, when working for a medical facility, a receptionist may see patients' health history. It's important that they keep this sensitive information private, only showing it to the applicable doctors or nurses who are authorised to see it.

Candidates can show they're trustworthy by sharing previous experiences when they worked with sensitive information. Knowing how to handle credit card payments or information requests are a few ways to show you know how to keep people's information safe and secure.

Stress-management

Receptionists tend to have many tasks to manage at once. Between managing phone calls, emails and incoming guests, receptionists can have a lot to do. What's important is that they have the stress-management skills to stay calm during hectic situations. By practising mindfulness or finding ways to be patient with others, receptionists can appear to be more calm and collected.

Stress management is also an essential skill to have when working with people. If a receptionist ever has a conflict with a coworker or guest, it's important that they remain calm and find ways to resolve the situation. Keeping the peace can help a receptionist create a harmonious workplace.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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