The person who greets clients when they enter an office presents an image of the company. A disorganized, indifferent receptionist presents the company as unprofessional and uncaring. Meanwhile, being greeted warmly by an attentive staff member makes a client feel valued and can lead her to cultivate a longer relationship with the company. Remember too that in certain types of offices such as a doctor or therapist's office, and before important meetings such as interviews, visitors may feel nervous. A friendly greeting can help to put them at ease.

Position your desk to face the entrance, so you see clients as they enter. Make sure the office looks tidy at the start of each day and keep it organized all day long. Deliver packages promptly or place them out of sight. Keep papers properly filed and your appointment book accessible. Have the appropriate computer programs running so you can easily look up a client's information.

Smile and welcome the client, conveying genuine warmth and enthusiasm. Use a greeting that signals you have been expecting him, if this is the case -- but only if you know this is the client you've been expecting. If you're expecting a client at your law firm at 9 a.m., and a man dressed for a business meeting walks in, you might smile and say, "Hi, are you John? It's very nice to meet you." Never state the client's full name -- treat this information as confidential. Use a more general greeting if you don't know the client, such as, "Good morning, welcome to XYZ Firm. How can I help you today?"

Provide assistance to the client by arranging an appointment, giving her the paperwork she must fill out or letting her know you'll tell the appropriate person that she has arrived. Let the client know how long she might need to wait. Ask her if she has any questions and answer them to the best of your ability. If you must check on the answer, assure her that you will.

Encourage the client to relax while waiting. Offer the client refreshments such as water, coffee or tea, if available. If the client declines the offer, tell him to let you know if he changes his mind. Continue smiling and making eye contact when you speak to the client, conveying warmth and enthusiasm.

Politely ask the client to wait just a moment if you must answer the phone. Answer the phone with a greeting such as, "Good morning, this is Terri from XYZ Firm. Can you hold for just a moment?" Thank the caller for holding and assure her you'll be right with her. Then attend to the client in the office.

Follow your office's protocol for introducing clients to staff. Summon the staff member as soon as the client has arrived, if you know the staff member is not meeting with another visitor. Otherwise, summon the appropriate staff member by phone when the client's appointment is scheduled to begin.

Escort the client to the staff member's office if this is the accepted procedure in your office, and the staff member has indicated she wishes to begin the meeting. Alternatively, summon the staff member to the waiting area to meet the client. Introduce the client and staff member if they have not yet met, using last names or first names, depending on which your company prefers.