One of the most frequent entry-level positions for someone in the administrative support field is that of Receptionist. In this position, you will have a chance to learn and hone many skills that you will carry with you throughout your career as an administrative professional. As an Executive Assistant, I still get compliments on skills I learned as a Receptionist years ago. Since this is such an important entry-level position, I will be writing a series of posts on being a good receptionist.

To begin, I will start with telephone etiquette, since answering incoming calls is usually a primary duty of a receptionist:

  • Always answer the phone with an appropriate greeting: “Thank you for calling XYZ Company. How may I help you?” or “Good morning/afternoon, XYZ Company. How may I help you?”
  • Answer the phone as promptly as possible. The longer the phone rings, the more impatient the caller will become.
  • Ask for the caller’s name before transferring the call, and make note of pronunciation. The proper way to ask would be, “May I tell him who is calling?”
  • Announce the caller by name to the person to whom you are transferring the call before completing the transfer.
  • Always ask before putting someone on hold, “May I put you on hold for a moment?”. When you pick the line back up, thank them for holding, “Thank you for holding. How may I help you?” or “I’m sorry to keep you holding. How may I help you.”
  • When a person says “thank you”, the appropriate response is always “you’re welcome” in a cheerful voice. It is never, ever “uh-huh”. This is a particular pet peeve of mine, and a receptionist who responds with such will be receiving re-education as soon as possible.
  • Keep a scratch pad on your desk. As people talk to you, quickly jot down names and details and what line they are on. When you are answering multiple lines, you may at times have several lines holding for transfer. This will help you to keep from getting the calls confused and to be able to announce the calls appropriately. If it turns out the person they want is not available, you won’t have to ask them to repeat what they have already told you in order to take a message.
  • Ask managers if they prefer receiving calls in voice mail or getting a written message. Some have definite preferences one way or the other and will appreciate you asking.

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