Often I hear the words “just” and “receptionist” in the same phrase. Every time I hear this, it truly hurts. I’ve heard it from employers and I’ve even heard it from receptionists. Why is this crucial position for any company valued so lowly? Probably because people think it’s an easy job. Years ago on Administrative Professional’s Day, our staff filled in at the front desk in shifts so that our admins could have a nice lunch out of the office. I think it’s fair to say that it opened our staff’s eyes to just how hard a receptionist works. Imagine the phone ringing off the hook, a lobby full of people staring at you, your Outlook inbox overflowing with emails, and you’re supposed to keep a smile on your face and in your voice for eight hours straight, five days a week. Sounds impossible, right?
Your receptionist is often the first person your customers interact with. How much is a first impression worth to you as a business owner? In Greenville, receptionists make $10-$15 an hour and are often the least compensated in the company they work for. We’ve all had a bad experience talking with someone on the phone or walking into a business for the first time. Competition in any industry is so high, if the receptionist is rude, unhelpful, or just sounds bored, what is there to stop the customer from picking up the phone and calling the next company in your industry to try to place an order? Communication skills matter. In fact, as someone who talks on the phone and speaks with people in person all day, I can tell you that they matter a lot. First impressions count and you get what you pay for–these are generalizations for a reason. Are you as a business owner making the connection that this role is more than crucial to your company’s success?
So as an employer what do you need to be looking for when hiring a new front desk person? A top-notch receptionist needs to love interacting with people—both over the phone and in person. They must have a natural affinity for helping people and they must understand that their role is crucial for any company’s success. If you as an employer don’t take the position seriously, with your voice and with your actions, then how can you expect that of the person you’ve hired? The best receptionists know that they have to be “on” at all times. In the world of social media reviews galore, the #1 interactor with customers, your receptionist, needs to make it look easy—no one should have the slightest idea that their inbox is blowing up or that they’ve already answered 50 phone calls and it’s only 9 a.m. When I’m coaching my employees in support roles, I often make the point that if you show you know what you’re doing and you are polite and helpful, the customer will be at ease. Find a calm person with the proper administration skills who truly enjoys interacting with people, treat her/him as if they light up your office, and you can’t lose.
Besides managing the best support team in the Upstate, Karen enjoys the daily adventures of her dog Maddie and her cat Guillermo J. Gosling. She is a 13 year veteran with Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing where she has served in a variety of roles including recruiting, medical credentialing, and management.