Receptionist Duties

What is a Receptionist?

A receptionist is a person who supports management at all levels of the organization and generally greets the public and answers the company telephone.  Their interpersonal skills, telephone etiquette and communication skills are extremely important in greeting clients, responding to inquiries and representing the company. Receptionist duties involve a variety of tasks which can vary depending on whether they work for a large or small corporation, but generally speaking, all Receptionists perform the following duties on a daily basis:

Top Receptionist Duties

While a Receptionist at a larger company may only be responsible for running the front desk, nowadays, the Receptionist may be required to multi task in a variety of receptionist duties including:

1. Greeting Visitors

By far the most important duty of the Receptionist is to greet and welcome guests.  A good first impression is important as the Receptionist is the first point of contact for the entire organization, which requires a positive attitude and a polished, professional appearance. Remember, the Reception area is the first thing a visitor sees when they visit your company.

A warm greeting by a receptionist can go a long way and speaks volumes on how a company will treat it’s customers.  Therefore, the receptionist is always required to provide excellent customer service .  Keep in mind that the greeting begins at the door, the minute the customer arrives, so being aware of your surroundings and staying alert at all times is extremely important. 

When the visitor arrives, one of your receptionist duties is to provide them with a warm and friendly welcome and point them in the right direction. Many visitors to your organization may be coming to meet with one or more of the company employees for many different reasons. It doesn’t matter what reason a visitor is there, you want to project professionalism, smile and greet them with a friendly “good morning” or “good afternoon” and ask them with whom their appointment is with.  It’s also good form to ask the visitor for their name and possibly note the pronunciation if possible.  

2. Answer The Telephone and Take Messages

Answering calls is an extremely important duty of the Receptionist.  While office phone systems and their feature set can vary significantly, it is important to know how to perform the basic tasks that you will be expected to perform on a daily basis such as transferring the call, putting the caller on hold, call forwarding and checking voice mail.  Practice using the phone features until they are second nature to you as you don’t want to practice on the customer.

Answer the call promptly and enthusiastically, preferable within 3 rings. Don’t forget to smile before you answer the phone as this will be reflected in your tone of voice and will be great for maintaining a positive attitude, not only during the call, but through-out the whole day. Yes, customers can actually hear your smile because smiling helps your voice sound friendly, warm, and receptive. 

When you are being trained, your company will instruct you on how to answer the telephone.  However, experts agree that the following initial greeting will make your customers feel welcome and appreciated:

Smile and greet the caller in a friendly and enthusiastic manner such as “Good morning or good afternoon“.

State your company name. For example, “This is ABC Cloud Computing“.

Introduce yourself to the caller. For example “This is Molly“.

Offer your help. For example, “How may I help you?”

3. Keep reception area clean and well maintained

Another one of your important receptionist duties is making sure your lobby is visually clean. Always keep the reception area free of trash.  If packages arrive during the day, try to get some-one from within the organization to pick them up and avoid storing them in the Reception area.

Also, you are responsible for keeping your reception desk and all workstations nearby clean and organized. Try to keep your work area uncluttered and avoid leaving confidential documents like the company phone list, conference schedules or other confidential information visible.  Most of this information is now only available internally or on your company intranet or email system. 

It’s only to be expected that the front lobby will get messy through-out the day so you should be prepared to tidy up the Reception Area at different intervals through-out the day to ensure your company is always prepared to make a good impression.

At the end of the day or your shift, it’s always a good practice to make sure you leave the Reception area neat and tidy.  If you are sharing your desk with other Receptionists or Assistants, consider wiping down their phones and computer keyboards with sanitizes to avoid spreading or catching any germs that are going around.

4. Send and Receive Faxes

Many departments within an organization send and receive faxes without ever bothering the Receptionist.  As the company Receptionist, however, you should always be prepared to send or receive faxes and understand how they work.

Although email is a quick and efficient way to send and receive documents, companies still use fax machines to transmit data such as charts and photographs that are not available in electronic format.  Also, compared to mailing documents, a fax machine can be the quickest and most affordable way to transmit data in different formats to any part of the world.

Receiving a fax is a straight forward process.  If a fax arrives on your fax machine, it should state the receiving parties name.  As the Receptionist, you will be required to check the reception fax in-box at least twice daily and forward the fax to the addressed/appropriate individual. It is your responsibility to call the recipient and inform that they have a fax waiting for them at the front desk.  

5. Manage the Conference Schedule

As a busy office Receptionist, you may often find yourself responsible for arranging a wide variety of meetings from small informal ones to possible large conferences.  If you work for a large company, they will usually have a dedicated conference room that will require scheduling.  Participants may attend in person or dial in remotely but no matter how they attend, you will need to coordinate the details with the employee requesting the conference and this will take some planning on your part.

As the Receptionist, you will likely be responsible for reserving the conference room, usually through a Meeting Planner and Microsoft Outlook.  You will also be asked to print the Conference Schedule daily in time for the next business day. How you go about this will depend on how your company schedules meetings; however, today more and more companies today are using the computer to schedule meetings.  This makes scheduling much easier, especially if your organization uses shared electronic calendars that can be accessed at the time of scheduling the meeting.

6. Receive and Distribute Mail

While companies are receiving less and less traditional mail due to the increasing popularity of the internet and email, every office still receives some paper mail.  While most large companies have a mail room, smaller companies will rely on the Receptionist to sort and distribute the mail.

7. General Filing

Today a vast majority of company documents are filed electronically, either in the cloud or directly on the servers of the organization.  Despite this migration to electronic filing systems, many companies still maintain a paper filing system to file those documents that cannot be saved electronically such as executed leases, contracts or other legal documents.  That being said, one of the receptionist duties is being assigned the task of filing these documents in company filing cabinets.

As general filing has been around since the beginning of time, there are tried and true methods for organizing filing systems.  The alphabetic filing system is the most commonly used system where you can take all the documents that you need to file and file them in alphabetical order. This is a good system to use when you need to retrieve documents by a person’s name or topic.  Another popular system is the numeric filing system where data is filed in numerical order.  This type of system is often used by insurance companies, banks and medical offices when you need to keep records according to a policy number, patient number, social security number or any number used to identify a person or product.

Every company has their own filing system and learning it will be part of your on the job training.  Just remember it’s important to stay current with your filing, whether that be electronic or paper records.. Don’t let files and folders pile up on the reception desk or in any area that is viewable by visitors.

Receptionist Skills

Here are some of the most common common Receptionist skills required for many job postings by companies seeking Receptionists.

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Good customer service skills
  • Essential telephone etiquette knowledge
  • Good communication skills -Ability communicate effectively, both orally and in writing with co-workers and clients
  • Good organizational skills
  • Ability to type 30-40 Words Per Minute
  • Knowledge of principles and practices of organization, planning, records management and general administration.
  • Ability to operate standard office equipment, including but not limited to, computers, telephone systems, calculators, copiers and facsimile machines.
  • Ability to multi-task as Receptionists are often required to manage many different tasks at one time including taking messages, scheduling appointments and maintaining employee files.
  • Be a team-player and be able to work on their own initiative in a dynamic and challenging environment
  • Maintain Integrity and confidentiality

Receptionist Job Outlook

According to bls.gov, employment of receptionists is projected to projected to show little or no change from 2022 to 2032 making this an excellent time to become a Receptionist. Overall job opportunities should be good, especially in the healthcare industries. 

For more details of how to become a Receptionist, visit our Receptionist Online Course page.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Receptionists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/receptionists.htm (visited October 04, 2023).

 

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