A receptionist is an employee taking an office or administrative support position. The work is usually performed in a waiting area such as a lobby or front office desk of an organization or business. The title receptionist is attributed to the person who is employed by an organization to receive or greet any visitors, patients, or clients and answer telephone calls. The term front desk is used in many hotels for an administrative department where a receptionist’s duties also may include room reservations and assignment, guest registration, cashier work, credit checks, key control as well as mail and message service. Such receptionists are often called front desk clerks. Receptionists cover many areas of work to assist the businesses they work for, including setting appointments, filing, record keeping, and other office tasks.
What does a Receptionist do?
Receptionists typically do the following:
- Answer, screen, and forward telephone calls
- Greet walk-in customers and other visitors and escort them to specific destinations
- Contribute to the security of the office by helping to monitor visitors’ access
- Obtain or send information or documents using a computer, mail, or a fax machine
- Perform other administrative support tasks, such as keeping appointment calendars
- Copy, file, and maintain documents and records
- Collect, sort, distribute, and prepare mail and courier deliveries
- Process and prepare travel vouchers or other documents
Although some tasks are common to most receptionists, their specific responsibilities vary depending on their work establishment. For example, receptionists in hospitals and in doctors’ offices may gather patients’ personal and insurance information and direct patients to the proper waiting room. In corporate headquarters, they may greet visitors and manage the scheduling of the boardroom or common conference area. In beauty or hair salons, they arrange appointments, direct clients to the hairstylist, and may serve as cashiers. In factories, large corporations, and government offices, receptionists may provide identification cards for visitors and arrange for escorts to take visitors to the proper office. Those working for bus and train companies respond to passengers’ inquiries about departures, arrivals, stops, and other related matters.
Receptionists use the telephone, computers, and other electronic devices. Despite the widespread use of voicemail or other automated systems, many receptionists still take messages and inform other employees of the public’s or customers’ arrivals or cancellations of appointments. When they are not busy, receptionists are usually expected to help other administrative employees by doing a variety of office tasks.
Receptionist Job Duties:
- Welcomes visitors by greeting them, in person or on the telephone; answering or referring inquiries.
- Directs visitors by maintaining employee and department directories; giving instructions.
- Maintains security by following procedures; monitoring logbook; issuing visitor badges.
- Maintains telecommunication system by following manufacturer’s instructions for house phone and console operation.
- Maintains safe and clean reception area by complying with procedures, rules, and regulations.
- Maintains continuity among work teams by documenting and communicating actions, irregularities, and continuing needs.
- Contributes to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.
The receptionist represents the public face of a business. She is often the first person a customer sees or the first voice he hears over the phone. Because of this, it is important that the receptionist conducts herself in a professional manner to give customers a good first impression. Certain qualities and skills can help make receptionists better at the job and portray the company in its best light.
Whether over the phone or in person, the receptionist’s attitude comes through loud and clear. It’s been said that callers can tell when a person is smiling over the phone, and they can surely tell when she is not. A receptionist’s positive attitude tells potential and current customers that the business is interested in them and their needs.
An organized receptionist makes everyone’s job easier. She knows where to find the documents, files and phone numbers her boss, co-workers and customers need. A receptionist must also be able to work independently, keep herself on track and accomplish her tasks without direct supervision. The ability to prioritize is essential, as the nature of the job requires frequent multi-tasking. In addition to answering the phone and taking messages, a receptionist must type correspondence, respond to company email and answer questions from people on the phone and in person.
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 also know spreadsheet, desktop publishing or other industry-specific software have additional skills that are in demand. If the copier or other general machines are near the reception area, the reception will often be asked for help with them as well, so her ability to master additional technology as needed is vital.
When the phone goes unanswered during normal business hours, or a line of impatient customers waits in front of the empty reception desk, it reflects poorly on the business. A receptionist is counted on to be at the desk on time in the morning, be prompt returning from lunch, answer correspondence quickly and give accurate, reliable information about the company to all inquiries.
Good Listening Skills
Taking the time to listen is essential to the receptionist’s role. Good receptionists listen closely as clients are talking so they can be efficient in solving their problems or answering their questions. Through active listening, she can connect visitors and clients with the right department or personnel quickly. It’s also an ideal way to learn new skills quickly and advance in her career.