There once was a time when people thought being a receptionist meant keeping a smile on your face, answering the phone and staying seated at a front desk in order to greet customers all day. You were expected to be a pleasant voice on the phone and in front of customers in order to check them in for their appointments. Most were considered to be the first contact between customers and the company.
Today, the field of reception has expanded into a great career choice that involves more than happily greeting visitors. Companies see their receptionists as valuable staff members that get customers in the door, give the first and last impression, help with basic questions that free up other team members’ time, and take care of administrative tasks such as filing and computer work.
It’s not exactly the easiest job out there by any means. If you’re thinking a receptionist job is a simple job that anyone can get, take a look at what receptionists are really up to these days, and how it’s grown into a career field for many.
Learning about People
While you may think you are just going to check in guests for appointments, answer the phone and say goodbye when clients leave the office, think again. For some, a receptionist job can turn into a therapy session in which clients will want someone to vent to, feel comforted and ask for advice.
People tend to open up to receptionists by talking about life, their experience at the company or what they want to do with their day. They may share war stories of their work weeks or talk about their children. You need to learn to be an expert in communication with everyone you meet, from clients to the mail courier. You may find that one of those conversations leads to a loyal customer for your boss.
You’ll definitely be expected to answer the phones and sometimes call out to clients. You can be given a script and basic cues as to what you should say on the phone, but none of that will matter if you don’t have a great phone voice.
You need to sound pleasant, cheerful and clear when you speak on the phone so that guests can understand you and feel comfortable asking questions. Even if you are rolling your eyes at your desk, keep your voice at a great pitch using clear annunciation and a cheerful tone. Most customers will be able to hear if you’re not smiling on the other end.
You May Need to Deflect Callers
You may get calls from a solicitor trying to sell a product, and you can’t just tell them you don’t want to talk to them. You need to come up with a good way to get through these calls. By telling the caller that you already have a vendor that supplies your paper, or that your boss is in a meeting, you can help to keep the office running and the interruptions low.
When you don’t have a phone to answer or a client in the waiting room, you’re going to want to find some busy work to improve the company in one way or another. If not, your boss may assume you are being lazy even though you can’t control the phones or the front door.
If you do nothing in between calls, you will appear to be a lazy waste of payroll. Try to find data entry projects, help with the mail, help with payroll, organize the computers’ files or find something to clean. Receptionists tend to get forgotten and under-appreciated, but the more valuable you can appear, the more respect you’ll earn.
Along with these points, remember that receptionists are expected to be multi-taskers. Their job can become mundane, and their coworkers may find them incapable of much; but on the bright side, they gain friends in handy places, from the delivery guys to the maintenance crews. If you choose a career as a receptionist, keep your chin up and remember that all jobs come with their pros and cons.