On to Part Two of our Receptionist Tips series.
In Receptionist Tips I, I discussed phone etiquette for receptionists, although some of the tips are applicable to anyone in the admin support field. However, unless you are working on a switchboard, there’s a great deal more to being a receptionist than answering the phone.
- Appearance: I cannot emphasize enough the importance of appearance as a receptionist. You are the first person a client sees when they enter your business, and we all know how important first impressions are.Grooming is paramount. Hair should be clean and well styled. Clothing and hairstyle should be appropriate to the work environment. Obviously, if you are working in an attorney’s office, you will likely be required to present a very professional appearance with conservative hairstyle and business dress (in other words, leave the piercings at home). However, if you are working at an avant garde graphic design firm, you may be expected to dress in a much more fashion forward style. Whatever the work style of your office, make sure you meet the standards of dress and grooming applicable to your situation.
- Keep your work area neat! Again, first impressions are everything. Even though you are probably working on multiple projects at a time, you do not need to have them all scattered across your desk at the same time. Make use of drawers, file cabinets and letter trays to stow in-progress projects when they aren’t currently in use. The impression you want to give is of someone who is busy but organized.
- Speaking of busy, if you ever lack work, find something to keep looking busy. Ask for work if you don’t have anything to do. If there isn’t anything, then this is a good time to work on your Microsoft Office skills. Remember, if you want to progress past the level of receptionist, you need to have top notch software skills to carry you forward.
- When you greet a client, stand up. This will add confidence and friendliness to your greeting. Don’t forget to smile. If they are there for a meeting, don’t forget to ask for a name and make note of the pronunciation so you can announce them properly. If they ask a question you can’t answer, just say you don’t know and tell them you will get the answer for them. Then get the answer! If the client has to wait, offer a beverage if you have them. Your goal is to make the client feel comfortable and welcomed.
- If a call comes in while talking to a client, excuse yourself and answer the phone. Ask the caller to hold a moment (don’t forget to say thank you) and finish with the waiting client. Then go back to the person holding on the phone.
- Know your office. At the front desk, you will be the person asked about how to find the restroom or water fountain, where to park (and if you validate parking), where supplies are located and myriad other facts. When you start a new job, try to make note of these kinds of information. They will come in handy in your day to day job.
- Cultivate patience. You will have to deal with difficult clients. You will have to stave off salespeople. You will have 3 people walk in the door at the same time that every phone line is ringing. Whatever happens, keep your cool and project an aura of confident ability. A certain amount of bravura can get you through a lot. And remember….
- Always know when and who to ask for help. When things are getting out of hand, don’t be afraid to ask for backup. If you don’t know the answer to the question, find out who knows. If all the phones are ringing and you have a line at your desk, take a few seconds to signal a backup to help. Needing help is not a negative. Not asking for help when it is needed is.