Whether your official title is receptionist, office assistant, office administrator, or virtual assistant, you play a critical role in keeping an office running. Learn how to be a good receptionist, including the qualities that make a stellar receptionist, learning opportunities for office administrators, and receptionist tips and tricks of the trade.
You’re the heart of a business, keeping all functions pumping while often also being the first touchpoint for clients and office visitors. Your role requires versatility, adaptability, organization, and a long list of interpersonal, clerical, and technical skills. Use our tips and resources to brush up on your office skills and to advance your career in administration.
How to Be a Good Receptionist
What Are the Qualities of a Good Receptionist?
The best receptionists and admin professionals are well-rounded individuals who work hard and are able to adapt to the needs of an office. In a job that could change day-to-day, people working in admin are often kept on their toes, taking on new tasks, learning new software, and adapting to whatever the day may bring. They do all of this while multitasking with the other mundane, repetitive tasks that are necessary to keep an office functioning. It’s an impressive juggling act that’s too often taken for granted.
Good Receptionist Qualities:
- Problem solving
- Visitor engagement
- Effective communication
- Customer service
- Attention to detail
- Tech savvy
- Delegating and prioritizing
What Skills Are Needed to Become a Good Receptionist?
Interpersonal and communication skills are critical to becoming a good receptionist, and you will most certainly need to have some basic computer skills. Remember that every office and every role is different, and just because you don’t have these skills right now doesn’t mean you can’t take the time to learn them.
Good Receptionist Skills:
- Phone systems
- Computer skills
- Digital Calendars
- Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.)
- Email (Outlook, Gmail, etc.)
- Printing, photocopying, faxing
- Office visitor management
- Conference room management
Do You Need an Office Administration Certificate?
Whether you need or would benefit from an additional certification depends on a number of personal factors. Consider your previous experience, how long it has been since you were last trained, and whether employment opportunities are available.
Administrative training courses can boost your resume to help you stand out in a crowded field. They help you maintain the required admin skills and adapt to the current expectations of the industry.
💡 Learn more about Administrative Certifications and how they can boost your admin career.
Receptionist Tips and Tricks
Refer to People by Their Name
where everybody knows your name.” If you know someone's name, use it. If you don’t, find it out. If you know an important guest or client is expected at the office, put in the extra research to find out what their name is.
Whether you’re greeting office guests, communicating with clients, or interacting with coworkers, use people’s names to make them feel welcome and appreciated. The interactions they have with you will feel more personal and authentic—as long as you keep conversations genuine and don’t overdo it.
Work on Your Adaptability
Adaptability may be the most essential quality of any office worker. As technology—and everything we thought we knew about work—changes faster than ever before, workers in all fields need to learn how to adapt.
Fast Company says adaptability, measured by a person’s AQ (Adaptability Quotient), could be The Key To The Future Of Work. It’s a skill that more and more businesses are searching for, and it’s one that all administrative professionals should continue to develop. Learn how you can improve your Adaptability Quotient.
Always Keep a Notebook Handy
You never know when you may need to take a note or jot down something to remember. Keep a notebook or small pocket journal on you at all times so that you never miss anything important. You might be more of a phone note taker, but while in the presence of office guests and clients, you will look more professional jotting down a note on paper rather than pulling out your phone. Using gadgets like personal smartphones and smartwatches take your attention away from the real people you need to interact with, and it could look like you are ignoring them in favor of your tech. Nothing says “I’m too busy for you” like looking at a watch, even if it’s a smart one.
Personalize Your Interactions
Go out of your way to personalize your interactions with visitors, clients, and coworkers. What do you remember about them from the last time you interacted? Do you share something in common? Make the people you interact with feel special and heard. That’s what differentiates genuine human interactions from generic customer service or chatbots.
Consider how each person prefers to be communicated with and do your best to adapt to those preferences. This will make people feel more comfortable, and it will get your message across effectively.
Use Online Resources to Improve Your Receptionist Skills
No matter how much training you’ve done in the past, office jobs are constantly evolving. The good news is there are plenty of online (and free) resources available to keep you up to date on current trends, advice, and technology.
Admin Hour is a podcast for office managers and administrative professionals covering all things related to work, career, and development over a one-hour segment. The recent COVID-19 series covers a range of timely topics, including Embracing Change, The Power of Positive Culture, and Overcoming Unexpected Obstacles.
OfficeNinjas is a community of administrative professionals and workplace operators providing support to admins with industry-specific content, tech resources, education, career development opportunities, networking events, and more.
Answering Telephone Calls: Office Receptionist Tips
Whether you love or hate talking on the phone, it’s a key aspect of being a receptionist. And even if you enjoy it, it’s still easy to get tongue-tied. Regardless of your phone-confidence level, preparation is key to success.
- Practice at home with people you trust. Try calling people you’re comfortable with from home, such as family, friends, or trusted coworkers. Get familiar with the mechanics of the phone and ask for insight into how you are coming across. Do you speak too quietly, or not quietly enough? Get used to speaking on the phone in a friendly but professional manner.
- Prepare for the calls you make. Before placing a call, write down the major points you need to cover so you don’t forget anything.
- Have a loose script for answering the phone. Remember to answer as the company and clearly state who is speaking.
- Take a deep breath before answering the phone. Deep breathing reduces stress and improves your mood. Intentional deep breathing helps lower blood pressure, keeping you calm and focused. If speaking on the phone is particularly stressful for you, try this box breathing exercise before placin
Do you or any of your employees struggle with phone phobia? Learn How to Overcome Phone Phobia at Work.
Sending Emails: Office Receptionist Tips
Email is a critical form of communication, especially in the age of remote offices and flexible schedules. Online etiquette matters, and there’s a true skill to crafting a clear and effective email.
- Consider who you are emailing and their communication preferences when crafting an email. If you’ve completed personality tests at work, you may already know your coworker’s preferred styles of communication. Do they prefer direct statements, or do they want all of the details? Do they enjoy a little light chit-chat, or are you better off getting straight to the point? Adjust how you communicate to get your message across effectively and avoid misunderstandings.
- Proofread before you hit send. No matter how busy you might get or how comfortable you are with the person you are emailing, always read your email over before clicking send. Go through a checklist in your head. Did you use the correct name? Did you mean to choose reply or reply all? Do you have all of the necessary links? Did you actually attach that attachment you mentioned?
- Ensure your email signature is accurate and up to date. If you haven’t updated it in a while, take the time to test any links and ensure your contact information, job title, and any branding is correct.
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