Monday, January 26, 2009

Being A Good Receptionist: Part 1

As I have mentioned in the past I am a receptionist and administrative assistant for a growing company. I have been working in this office for a year and a half now, and I started here as a lowly temp in a completely separate position. I often caught a glimpse of the girl that they had at the front desk, and at the time it always seemed to me like she could care less about the job or the company. I remember thinking to myself at the time “how could she have this job?” She looked miserable, unprofessional, and as if she didn’t care. Turned out that she didn’t last long, and I was asked to take the job because I had demonstrated that I was a hard worker in my temp position. In other words: that when the receptionist is unhappy and unprofessional it presents a bad first impression of the company.

Let’s look at it from the other side – the guest. The guest comes in to interview for a job opening and is dressed in a suit and tie and greets the receptionist who is wearing ratty jeans, a t-shirt and a zip up hoody. How does that look to the guest? It looks like an unprofessional office or maybe even makes him feel over dressed. All in all he feels uncomfortable already and maybe he’s thinking this isn’t the kind of office he thought it was. Even if the office is casual with no strict dress code, as mine is, the receptionist should dress on the nicer side of business casual to be, if nothing else, an equilibrium between the company and the guest. The executives in my office frequently wear jeans and a polo shirt if they have no outside meetings that day but I always make it a point to wear dress slacks or well tailored jeans and a blouse.

Another first impression about the company is formed by the guest when the receptionist greets them. This one should be obvious: Smile, say “Hello, how can I help you?” and go from there. It is not too hard to be nice to someone who you will like only interface with for ten minutes or so. I like to update the guest on the status of the person they are meeting with: “They will be right up.” Or “He/she is finishing up a meeting/ phone call and will be with you shortly.” Just so the guest knows if they will be waiting a tremendously long time or not.

The front office area is the domain of the receptionist. Take care of the people that come through it to the best of your ability because you never know when it could benefit you.

Read more in Part 2.


Dobby's Roommate said...

Most people don't realize how much of a role the front office person plays in making visitors feel welcome as well. Attitude, appearance and demeanor are so important in front office, and sadly, one or the other can be lacking.

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