Answering Questions Right the First Time: Creating a Resource List

By | Aug 26, 2008

In my previous series on Receptionist Tips (see Part I and Part II), I neglected one very important piece of information:  creating a resource list.

As a receptionist, you are often the first person someone will talk to, and if they are not calling the right place, you are often the only one they will talk to.  So, for that person, you are the total face of your company (or department or location).  Therefore you always want that person to come away with a good impression.

The way to make the best impression is to offer help to someone even if they have come to the wrong place.  I recently worked for a local social services agency that provided help for at risk youth.  Because we had the word “youth” in our name, we had many calls every day from people who needed help but just didn’t know where to turn.  Part of the job of the front desk was to help direct these people to the appropriate services in the community.

Whatever industry you work in, referring people to the appropriate place for help is part of your job as a receptionist.  Don’t just tell someone that you don’t provide the service they’re looking for.  Help them find where to go next.

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This is my long-winded way of saying, create a resource list.  When you start a new receptionist job, pay attention to the types of calls and visitors you receive.  Listen to what they are asking and jot down the questions you don’t know how to answer.  When you have a free moment, research the answer to the question for the next time it’s asked.  Whether the answer lies with a coworker or manager, or you need to find the information on the internet, make note of what you find out.  Over time, as you accumulate more information, create a reference notebook for the front desk, so anyone relieving you also has that information at their fingertips.

Never let someone walk away with an “I don’t know”.  A “Let me find out” will go much further in maintaining a good relationship with clients and impressing your boss.

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2 Comments so far
  1. Richard Rinyai (4 comments) August 27, 2008 9:45 am

    Hi Jodith,
    I print out the phone list that I have for my 30 or so staff members and have tacked it on my cubicle.  This way, if anyone ever needs to be connected to particular people, I can reference the person via this list.
    One thing that I will do is add the particular products that they handle, so that it’s even easier to reference.
    Thanks for the tip!
    Richard Rinyai

  2. Jodith (189 comments) August 27, 2008 11:02 am

    That’s a great tip, Richard.  Your resource list needs to include internal references as well as external ones.  Thanks for reminding us!

    In my last job, whenever we had a new receptionist starting, I’d take a copy of the agency brochure that gave a thumbnail sketch of all our services, and write in the names and extension numbers of the people who took the calls for that department as well as the managers for that department.

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