Receptionists are often the first point of contact that customers and clients meet when they enter your place of business or speak to when they call. First impressions matter, so finding a receptionist with the best mix of professionalism, competence and friendliness will go a long way toward establishing your business as a well-run operation.
Benchmarking the Qualities
Human resources management company The Rainmaker Group recommends taking a systematic approach to identifying the key characteristics of a quality receptionist before beginning the interview and hire process. Because receptionists are usually the first point of contact from the outside world, the message that the receptionist sends should align with your corporate image. A receptionist's behavioral style, values and motivators along with people skills and personal qualities matter greatly, according to Rainmaker. While professionalism and competence are always important, the desired personal qualities may differ between an art gallery and a law firm, for example.
While corporate image is important, all quality receptionists share particular behavior characteristics that make them effective team members. First, receptionists should be customer-focused -- including the customers who are also coworkers. Receptionists should also enjoy talking to people, and not mind frequent interruptions such as a ringing telephone or office visitor. In addition, a receptionist must also be able to keep his work environment orderly and clean; staying organized will help when he's called to perform two tasks at once, a common occurrence in reception. Good communication skills, including the ability to write and speak clearly and with proper diction, is also essential, according to Genius Centre, a business support organization.
An effective receptionist must be focused on doing things the right way, according to Rainmaker, and in a way that fits the company's culture and standard. Not only must a receptionist learn quickly how things work, but she must focus on balancing a task with managing her own time wisely. Learning about the business, including frequently mastering new tasks and pitching in where most needed, makes the receptionist a valuable asset. While these skills may not be a part of the official job description, it's these qualities that set an effective receptionist apart from an ineffective one.
Receptionists must work with little supervision and must be able to make diplomatic, customer-focused decisions, often under duress, without getting their feathers ruffled. As a result, the best receptionists are usually flexible and have excellent planning and organization skills. They're also tactful; keep in mind that an angry client may take out his feelings on the receptionist first, and a receptionist who is able to sooth frustration can save management a lot of headaches. Therefore, tactful good manners are essential.
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.