The reception office is the first office that welcomes a visitor to the organization and is from this office that he or she seeks appropriate information about the purpose of the visit to the organization. This office serves as a guide to every visitor coming into an organization to receive adequate and appropriate attention.
The officer or clerical staff at the reception that welcomes visitors to the organization is referred to as the receptionist. A receptionist, therefore, is the first contact person in an organization. The way a receptionist behaves towards visitors coming into an organization matters a lot. A receptionist should therefore be well-behaved to all visitors at all times as it is generally believed that first impressions last longer.
His or her action and reactions can make or mar the organization. A receptionist is the representative of the organization and must represent the organization well. A receptionist is a very important member of the staff of an organization because all visitors to an organization are received by him/her.
Qualities of a receptionist
The qualities of a receptionist as an ambassador of an organization cannot be overemphasized. The qualities are the features the receptionist must portray on the job, even when he/she leaves the office. The qualities include the following:
- A receptionist should have a good command of the English language.
- A receptionist should be punctual to work.
- A receptionist should have self-confidence.
- A receptionist should be a well-mannered person.
- A receptionist should have a sound knowledge of the organization.
- A receptionist should be polite in speech.
- A receptionist should be well dressed always.
- A receptionist should have good human relations.
- A receptionist should have a good telephone manners.
- A receptionist should be patient and tactical.
- A receptionist must be ready to assist visitors.
Duties of a receptionist
A receptionist is the representative of an organization and has the following duties to perform. The duties are responsibilities or job descriptions and specifications of a receptionist. Consider some of them below.
- A receptionist receives visitors and handles their problems and complaints first.
- A receptionist receives telephone calls and directs calls to appropriate officials and offices.
- A receptionist keeps important records and documents.
- A receptionist records and registers the names of visitors.
- A receptionist makes visitors comfortable while waiting to be directed to an official or office.
- A receptionist makes the reception attractive and comfortable.
- A receptionist types letters in the absence of the typist (in a small office or organization).
How to attend to visitors
A receptionist is expected always to welcome visitors to the organization warmly and excellently and should be courteous of his or her behavior at all times to visitors. A receptionist must have a clear understanding of the organization in order not to mislead the visitors. He or she should know what to do and how to go about it without wasting the visitor’s time. Therefore, a receptionist should take the presence of every visitor very important and he should not engage in other talks while a visitor is waiting.
How to answer telephone calls
Answering telephone calls is what a good receptionist takes very seriously. There are procedures that he or she should follow when a receptionist is answering telephone calls. Some of the procedures are discussed below.
- Pick up the telephone to receive incoming calls.
- Greet the caller officially and politely by saying for instance: good morning sir or madam.
- Announce the company’s name. This will make the caller be assured that he/she has dialed correctly.
- Make an offer of assistance.
- Receive or answer calls as if the caller is right there with him/her.
- Give the caller full attention to be able to respond to questions correctly.
- Make the caller get satisfaction on the phone in case he/she is not able to come in person.
- Direct all calls and visitors to appropriate officials.
- Say thanks to end telephone conversations.
- Wait for the caller to replace the phone receiver before him/her.
Appropriate dress code
A receptionist should be smart and neatly dressed because he/she is always the first contact person in an organization; he/she has to be decent at all times. A skirt or a simple skirt and a blouse are appropriate for a lady receptionist. Most organizations prefer trouser suit. A male receptionist can appear in clean trousers with a shirt and a tie to be smart. No organization will allow a receptionist to wear native dresses as this is not appropriate for an office worker.
Documents handled by a receptionist
There are several documents a receptionist keeps that make his/her work easy and information given or received is noted down correctly. The main documents are as follows:
Visitors Log Book: This is a document that gives detailed information about all visitors that visited an organization daily. It usually contains the personal information of the following visitors, reasons for the visit, time in and out, and the signature of the visitors. Information contained in a visitors’ book. Consider the example below.
|Data||Name of Visitor||Address of Visitor||Whom to See||Purpose of Visit||Time In||Time Out||Signature|
Request Form: This is a document that is given to the visitors by the receptionist to fill out before being allowed to go to the office or officer that the visitor wishes to meet. This will show the name of the visitor, the purpose of the visit, and the officer he/she wants to meet with. Below is an example of a request form.
|Name of Visitor:
Address of Visitor:
Officer to be seen:
Purpose of Visit:
Complimentary Card: This is otherwise known as a business card. It is a small printed card that gives vital information about the visitor. In the absence of a request form, a visitor can give his/her complimentary card through the receptionist to the person he wants to see. Most times, this card is used to retrace a visitor.
Telephone Message Pad: This is used to record information for an officer who at a particular time a call comes cannot receive it for one reason or the other. A telephone message pad helps to keep and give back to the officer who owns the message, accurate details of the message as received by the receptionist. Consider the example below.
Name of Caller:
Address of Caller:
Phone Number of Caller:
Owner of Message:
Any Other Information:
Telephone Directory: This has the name, addresses, and telephone numbers of telephone subscribers. It becomes a very vital document for the receptionist whenever he/she is in doubt concerning a particular telephone number.
The size of the reception and items found in a reception depends on the size of the organization. In a reception office, the receptionist may have items such as chairs and table for him/herself, other chairs for visitors, newspapers, computers, notice boards, office stationeries, etc. All the receptionists need to take good note of all these and work on them. Any receptionist who understands everything discussed in this article will be more refined on the job and beyond.