It takes a special person to be an excellent receptionist.  The following general secrets to becoming that receptionist:

Be courteous. Be respectful. Treat everyone like they are the most important person that has walked into the office that day. This is your job– nobody cares about how you got stuck in traffic this morning, how you ruined your brand new purse, or even how you lost your favorite CD. Leave personal matters at home. (Even if you don’t respect their message or the way they convey it- fake it) 4

Have a positive attitude. Smile. It’s your job to appear happy and kind. People will be more comfortable talking with you if you show them that you’re totally happy to speak with them. Making small talk with visitors is okay as long as it doesn’t interfere with phone calls or other duties. 5

If someone is still being unreasonable, find a way to diffuse the situation. If you have truly listened to them, and shown them respect, they will not be angry at you- only the situation. You will then be able to direct them to a party that can assist them or alleviate their concerns. 6

Give good directions. Know your neighborhood and the locations of nearby bathrooms, restaurants, landmarks, highway onramps, and the like. 7

Keep busy. A receptionist is always on task, and makes sure she/he has good organizational skills. If you have nothing to do- GET something to do! Ask a customer if they need help, see if your other co-workers need assistance, etc. 8

As soon as someone enters the office, direct your attention to them, immediately, and give them a pleasant greeting. Something to the effect of “Good morning sir/ma’am, welcome to _______,” and then- “Are you here to see ____ ?” or “How may I be of service to you today?”, works well. 9

Answer the phone politely with a standard greeting such as “Good Morning, Thank you for calling our company, my name is ___, how may I direct your call? Make sure the phone is answered on the first or second ring. Do not keep people on hold for more than one minute. (It’s longer than you may think.)

Listen carefully to the name of the person the caller is asking for. Repeat back to caller if necessary. Cell phones often distort sounds. Write the person’s name to which the call is directed if pronunciation is difficult.

Direct the call politely with a standard phrase such as “One moment please for Mr. Smith.” Or if that individual is on the phone, “I am sorry; Mr. Smith is on the phone at the moment. Would you like to wait on hold or would you like to leave him a voicemail message?” Politely thank them and direct the call accordingly. 10

For visitors who come to the front desk, greet them with a smile and a standard greeting such as “Hello. How may I help you?” Don’t say How CAN I help you? This is improper grammar use. Customers and clients do indeed notice bad grammar.

After the visitors identify who they are and who they are looking for, contact that individual and let her/him know who is there. A standard appropriate phrase is “Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones from XYZ Corporation is here to see you for his 2 o’clock appointment.” Always get a first and last name and the name of the organization they are from. It is helpful to ask if they have an appointment with Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith will give you instructions about where to have visitor wait and for how long. You can then tell visitor “Mr. Smith will be with you in a moment.” or “Mr. Smith said that he is finishing up a meeting and will be with you in 5 minutes. You may have a seat. Thank you.” 11

Greet delivery personnel with the same professionalism and politeness as any other visitor. You may be required to sign for deliveries. Make sure your signature is legible. Delivery personnel may need directions where to leave packages. Make sure you contact appropriate employees for such matters. 12

As an employee, if the boss asks you to do anything extraordinary, politely agree.

Outstanding receptionists make their bosses look outstanding!