Top 20 Skill Sets for Receptionists to Have in 2021

Receptionists are oftentimes the first point of contact for any customer visiting your company, therefore it’s vital that the administrative employees of any business are properly qualified for the role. After all, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

In this article, we’ve curated a twenty-point list of the key competencies of a well-trained receptionist, ranging from customer service-oriented abilities like empathy and patience, to more clerical capabilities like data entry, phone etiquette, and basic computer knowledge. This list is intended to be a versatile resource for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of what a successful receptionist looks like. Perhaps you’re someone in search of administrative work and are curious to learn how your current resume aligns with the professional prerequisites expected for receptionist roles. Or you could be on the recruitment side and are just brushing up on what to look for in an ideal candidate to ensure their work ethic will reflect in favor of your company’s image.  

No matter what position or industry you're in, these important qualities will serve you well, so read on!  

1. Effective Communication

A client’s experience with a company is essentially bookended by their interactions with the front desk. As soon as a customer walks through the door, the first person they’ll see is the receptionist and upon the conclusion of their appointment, they’ll likely check out with that same receptionist as well. Conducive communication begins with setting a positive tone for each customer’s experience by greeting them as they enter the space. Strong communication skills aren’t just limited to the clerical conversations that unfold between receptionist and client. A strong communicator is just as well-versed in verbal skills as they are in reading non-verbal cues such as: body language, facial expressions, eye contact, vocal fluctuations, etc.

2. Exemplary Customer Service

Administrative work is a diverse field that includes customer service, legal work, and financial management among other things. In this blog post we'll be taking a closer look at the importance of customer service in administrative work.

It can't be stressed enough how important it is for receptionists to have excellent customer service skills. Not only do they answer questions from incoming phone calls and greet visitors as they come into the office, but they also often handle sensitive information about clients such as their address or social security number. It's essential for receptionists to maintain professionalism with every client interaction to ensure both parties feel respected and valued.

3. Active Listening

Active listening is a skill that has many benefits, but one of its most important uses is helping receptionists know how best to assist visitors who come into their office building looking for something specific. By asking open-ended questions and paying attention to details, receptionist can provide better customer service than if they just wait for visitors to tell them what help they need without prompting.

4. Client Confidentiality

Receptionists are often in charge of handling sensitive information from their clients such as home addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers. One way they can protect against unauthorized disclosure is by signing an agreement or "Oath" that commits them to abiding by all relevant laws on confidentiality. To make sure receptionists know what some of these laws are, here's a list: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), and a number of others.

The first thing a new receptionist should do when starting at a company is read the company's confidentiality policies. This will ensure they know what to expect and have guidelines for handling any sensitive information that comes across their desk. The best way for a receptionist to maintain confidentiality is by following these three steps:

  • Always ask permission before speaking on behalf of someone else.
  • When working with clients who are expecting privacy, make sure no one else hears conversations about personal matters.
  • If you're not sure if something should be kept private, always err on the side of caution, and keep it confidential anyway.

5. Empathy & Understanding

When people step out of their comfort zones to enter a new environment (such as walking up to the front desk), they will be seeking reassurance that they have arrived at the right place by looking for signs of recognition. Receptionists can help make this transition smoother by practicing empathy in these interactions.

Receptionists should listen intently and try their best to understand what the person is going through without making assumptions about them. This will help set up the tone for future interactions and provide more accurate information when communicating back with other staff members on behalf of this client.

6. Tech Savviness

The skills that a receptionist needs to have in 2021 are vastly different than what they needed in 2001. For instance, the way we communicate with each other has drastically changed over the last 20 years. The use of technology and social media is now deeply ingrained into our day-to-day lives. From handling emails from clients, to scheduling appointments with vendors, being tech savvy will help keep your business running smoothly. There are plenty of other skills that receptionists should possess as well, including basic computer skills like typing and using Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Your office may have fax machines, scanners, photocopiers and more that are all important pieces in today's workplace and therefore you need to be comfortable using them.

Receptionists should also be able to use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as chat apps such as Skype, Slack, and Teams in order to communicate with people outside of the office space.

7. Phone Etiquette

A receptionist’s voice is an extension of their company's brand. It can make or break that first impression for someone who may be considering doing business with the given company. The best way to ensure that people will want to come back and do more business is by making sure they feel welcomed when they speak with a receptionist over the phone.

To create an amicable environment for callers, receptionists such keep these few pointers in mind while on the line with a prospect:

  • If you can't answer the call right away, let the person know you will get back to them as soon as possible. This leaves them feeling like their time is valued and gives you an opportunity to finish what you're doing before answering.
  • Be polite during conversations and remember not everyone who calls has something negative or difficult on their mind; sometimes they just want someone who will listen! Smile while talking on the phone so that your tone sounds
  • Answer questions promptly & provides accurate information without sounding too robotic or technical in reciting scripted information. Speaking naturally can serve as a subconscious reminder to clients that they’re being taken care of by another human and not just an automated call system.

8. Working Under Pressure

Receptionists absolutely must be able to work under high pressure scenarios such as performing under stringent deadlines, handling dissatisfied customers, and assimilating to a fast-pace work environment. One of the qualities that make for a great receptionist is being able to think quickly on their feet. The ability to stay calm during stressful situations is another honourable asset.

9. Mail Management

Ever since email became a widespread form of communication, the need for a receptionist to manage mail has declined. However, there are still some reasons why it is important for receptionists to be able to handle incoming mail. For example, in an office with multiple departments and shared mailboxes, each department might have their own set of rules about what can or cannot go into their mailbox. If you're not aware of these rules, then you could inadvertently put something in someone else's box that violates those guidelines. In residential buildings with mailrooms, like apartment complexes, receptionists will likely have to coordinate with parcel recipients. It’s vital that receptionists are familiar with the mailroom layout and parcel discharge system so that they can serve customers as efficiently as possible.

10. Integrity

Receptionists are often overlooked in the workplace. They seem to be one of those jobs that just come with a desk and a phone, but there is so much more that goes into this job than you may realize. To have integrity as a receptionist, it is important for them to know how they can help their company's bottom line by being an attentive listener and providing efficient customer service.

They need to be able to inspire confidence with every single person who walks through those doors because if someone doesn't feel welcome then they're not going come back. Do you want your company's first impression being one of openness or closed off-ness? That's why integrity matters so much for this position!

11. Attention to Detail

Every day, receptionists are bombarded with requests for help. They need to be able to prioritize what needs attention and focus on the tasks that can make a major difference in their organization. This means they must have an eye for detail so they can spot problems before anything escalates. A good receptionist is detail-oriented; They can complete tasks quickly & productively, moving onto the next job at hand without wasting time or energy.

12. Supply Management

It's important to make sure that receptionists know how to handle all aspects of their jobs, including supply management. Supply management, as in relates to administrative roles, refers to the inventory system that receptionists use to keep track of supplies needed by different departments in an organization. Receptionists typically have access to this system through a platform that allows them to update items as necessary or check on existing stock levels at any given time.

Supply management is an essential tool for any receptionist who wants to create order in their space by taking control over what they have on hand at any given moment. This can help eliminate clutter that accumulates when supplies are left out or scattered about trying to find their way home after being used. Supplies should always be stored where they are most needed - close by!

13. Typing

Typing skills are essential in this role. Receptionists are expected to be able to type up notes about customer conversations, sending & respond to e-mail, and input new information into a specified electronic database. Typing proficiency also allows them to keep record of specifics on customer profiles so that they can be accurate when speaking with that same client again in the future.

The importance of typing cannot be overstated: it's imperative for any receptionist looking for success in this career field. When you work as a receptionist, your job is primarily focused on interacting with people who visit the office; knowing how to type fast will make these interactions smoother and faster because it allows you to keep track of what goes on during the conversation itself than having to stare down at the keyboard.

14. Knowledge of Industry-Specific Language

When you have a receptionist job, it is important to understand industry terminology because it demonstrates that they understand the company's goals. It is not enough just to know how to greet people and answer the phone. If you want to be successful in this role, you need to know what your company does and what your clients expect from that service or product. You also need a basic understanding of your company’s terms & conditions  so that there are no misunderstandings when providing service on behalf of the brand. Knowing these things will make you an invaluable member of any team!

15. Keep Basic Hygiene in Check

Especially for receptionists in the medical field, admins are constantly interacting with people who are sick or have just recovered from an illness. Good hygiene practices can help keep you healthy and save your coworkers from getting sick too. Hands are one of the most important tools you must use as a receptionist. On top of this, handshakes are still common in business settings, so it's possible for people to get sick after shaking your hand because while some may try to wash their hands before shaking yours, others might not.

Hygiene isn’t just limited to germ mitigation, but also extends into personal presentation & grooming habits. This includes grooming habits such as hair, nails, and makeup. Good grooming will help the receptionist present a professional image that customers want to work with. Even if you can't get your hair done or your nails done before coming into work, you should still always appear put together and clean.

15. Autonomy

It's important for receptionists to be able to work independently and solve problems on their own. When you're able to work independently, it not only saves time; it also allows other employees in your company to do what they need or want without worrying about taking care of you.

Receptionist independence can help save time and resources for everyone involved while improving how visitors feel about interacting with your organization: answering phones, solving customer service issues, and following up after meetings.

16. Coping with Constant Interruption

Receptionists need to be able to work with constant interruption, not only from phone calls and walk-ins, but also from coworkers who want their help or advice on non-administrative tasks. They must be able to juggle multiple conversations at once and remain courteous and professional even when interrupted with questions from coworkers or clients. This can make it tough for receptionists to focus on one task at a time, which segues nicely into the next skill a good receptionist must have:

17. Multitasking

A receptionist might need to answer and direct phone calls for clients, while also checking in visitors at the front desk. They may also be scheduling appointments and greeting new customers. It's crucial that all these duties get done quickly and efficiently. If you're looking for an entry-level job as a receptionist, make sure your skills include multitasking so you can meet high standards of performance at work.

18. Organizational Habits

A little bit of organization goes a very long way in making sure that everything runs smoothly each day. It also makes it easier for receptionist to have more time on their hands so they can focus on other important tasks instead of spending all their time looking for files or searching through piles of papers.

19. Sociability

Reception work is a role that is best suited for extroverted, more outgoing people--if you’re shy, it might be a little harder for you to manage the outward communication side of things.

It’s important for you to be friendly and outgoing when interacting with patients, coworkers, visitors, and other professionals. This will make it easier for you to perform your job in an efficient manner while avoiding potentially awkward situations.  As a receptionist, you'll be able to better relate to patients by understanding their needs more thoroughly. You'll also have an easier time building rapport with others which may lead to rewarding professional relationships that can help advance your career in the long run.

20. Self-Confidence

Self-confidence is an important trait for receptionists because it helps them stay grounded in their work environment despite all the chaos surrounding them.

Receptionists who are not confident may seem unprofessional or uninterested in the work that they do. This can lead to low morale, decreased productivity, and an overall negative atmosphere for everyone at the office. To boost confidence levels among receptionists, here are some tips: smile more often; make eye contact when speaking; wear clothes that fit well and make you feel good; speak up when appropriate without being too aggressive or confrontational.

Wrapping Up…

The front desk is a place where you can make or break your company. You must be able to handle the most challenging situations with grace and poise, as well as provide stellar customer service for every person that walks through those doors. Do you have what it takes to captain the front desk?

By Meredith Kucik

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