One of the most on demand jobs and sensitive role for office or administrative support in most businesses and organisations today is the Receptionist.
You may have been greeted by one while making your entry to an office or perhaps made some enquiries with the help of a receptionist. What would it be like to have an office arrangement without a receptionist?
What role do they play? Is it a minor role as some may be tempted to think? Or do you hope to be applying for work as a receptionist? Let’s be enlightened about who they are and what they do.
At the front desk…
Receptionist is a role meant for both sexes, however, it is a role dominated by females today.
Because they are the first point of contact to any organisation, it therefore holds that receptionists bear the face or image of the organisation.
No wonder they are properly groomed, articulate and friendly. That is not to say that all receptionists are courteous. Rude receptionists do not give a good image of the company.
They drive away customers and live lasting impressions. In most organisations, receptionists are expected to maintain a calm and courteous demeanour while being tactful in tackling irate customers.
Many administrative departments in organisations such as hotels, schools, government offices, hospitals, and manufacturing companies have receptionist commonly termed Front Desk officers. They usually serve the primary function to receive or greet visitors and respond to enquiries.
Their duties may also include guest registration, cashier work, record keeping, setting appointments, room reservations, mail and messaging services.
In some organisations such as insurance companies, they may play an interchangeable role as Customer Service Representative to respond to enquiries involving company’s products and services.
Regardless of the function played, a good receptionist must possess excellent communication and computer skills, and must be a problem solver with the ability to interact with people of various professional levels. In addition, they must be polite, and able to carry on various administrative and clerical protocols.
The duties of a receptionist include the following:
Receptionists sit out in lobbies or accessible areas in office buildings that makes it easier for guest to spot. Some areas are deliberately labelled as such for easy identification.
The receptionist is required to maintain an aura of friendliness and positive attitude while keeping the guest at ease. You may have noticed that they often greet with warm smiles and direct eye contacts to show interest in the guest. Sometimes, they may go to the extent of offering refreshments to the guest.
Many organisations have systematic channel of communication. Rather than entertain incoming calls by other staff in various departments which indeed hampers organisational procedures, many organisations set in place a main channel of communication to provide interactions between the organisation and clients. Sometimes, the receptionist responds to calls from multiple telephone lines. A receptionist’s tone of voice must not express coolness but warmness.
While answering calls, he or she must make proper introduction to indicate who the caller is speaking with: they must be attentive, and take the initiative to ask what help the caller may need depending on the circumstance.
Receptionist do not only answer incoming calls from customers or clients, they also screen and direct calls to other staff of the organisation.
Because of the complexity in the wide range of duties that receptionist play in modern business outfits, some organisations make use of answering services or automated answering machine to assist the receptionist with numerous job functions.
Front desk receptionist manages incoming and outgoing mail depending in the manner received. Whether received as hard or soft copy, receptionist must respond to the mail immediately and appropriately depending on the contents.
Though mails could be of inquiries or request made by clients, they can also be mails sent as notifications. Receptionists have the duty of sorting out junk mails from those of highest priority to the management. Both outgoing and incoming mails are registered each time they are dispatch or received.
Inter office mails are also sent to the respective recipient either by hand or in an inter-office mail slot. Receptionist must maintain confidentiality discretion in this respect. Managing mails would also require that the receptionist has an adequate knowledge of various postal services available within the locality.
Many administrative functions are supported by the receptionist whose main duties may at times overlap with clerical or secretarial functions.
These functions may include preparing spreadsheets, financial reports, memorandums, weekly and monthly schedule for line managers or senior team members, drafting correspondence, documentation of contracts or transactions, gathering customer information etc.
Receptionists have a role in directing the traffic of guest and staff of an organisation. They provide directions to avoid unnecessary loitering, overcrowding, and distractions and as well assist guest to locate key staff of interest.
Where staff of interest is not readily available, they direct guest to either a waiting room or help reschedule an appointment. Usually, they are familiar with staff working and movements within the company.
As the company’s flag bearer, receptionists are expected to keep the reception areas for visitors clean at all times. The reception areas speak in volumes how a company view their clients.
Where there may be lapses in such areas, it is the duty of the receptionist to proffer to the management what may be needed to enhance reception. Of course, while giving recommendations, receptionist must act within the frame of company policies and regulations.
Interestingly, receptionists have additional job function to enhance security within the entrances of a building used by the organisation.
They must verify the identities of each employees and visitors upon entry, and provide passes when appropriate. A report or an alert is issued out to the security when they notice suspicious persons making an entry. It is important for the receptionist to be fully aware of the company’s policy as regard to security measures.
Without doubt, the post of the front desk receptionist is quite a heavy responsibility as they bear the image of the organisation they represent. However, it is truly a role that must be appreciated.
Being a receptionist has its rewards for those who are already in the profession. Apart from shaping and enhancing positive character formation and social skills, it introduces one to other career paths such as customer service representative, interviewers, personal or executive assistance, etc.
If you are contemplating building a career in those areas mentioned, don’t shy away. And, in case you meet a receptionist the next time you make an office visit, don’t forget to reciprocate the smile and warmth!
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