Who Is A Receptionist? Importance, Qualities, Duties And Qualification

Business Studies

Topic: Receptionist

Table Of Content

  • Meaning Of receptionist
  • Importance Of A Receptionist
  • Qualities Of A Receptionist
  • Qualifications Of The Receptionist
  • Duties Of The Receptionist

If you visit an organization, whether trading or manufacturing company, the first person you would see (apart from the security men usually referred to as “Gateman”) is the receptionist. The office of the receptionist is usually situated at the entrance of the building or apartment housing the organization.

Who Is A Receptionist?

The receptionist is the first person one sees after the security gate when one enters an organization. He/She directs and assists visitors to get to the people and places they wish to visit within the organization. The receptionist is regarded as the ambassador of the company because he/she represents the image of the company and thus tells people about the company through the way he/she receives and treats visitors who come into the organization as most of the visitors may not even go beyond the reception office. For this reason the receptionist should be intelligent enough to carry out these important duties.

Importance Of Receptionist

The importance of a receptionist is expansive considering the benefits the company and the public derive from the services of a good receptionist:

1. Receiving Callers: The main duty of a receptionist is to receive people that come into the organization. If these callers are left on their own to find their ways to the persons and offices they wish to visit, they may end up being frustrated as such search may not be fruitful at the end especially in large organizations. Moreover, leaving visitors to just troop in and begin a search for whatever they want may disrupt the company’s normal activities.

2. Protection Of Busy Officers: Some officers are usually busy and so need not be disturbed by casual calls as such casual callers are tactfully handled by the receptionist.

3. Protection Of The Image Of The Organization: The receptionist being the ambassador of the firm and having been trained to perform that function sells the good image of the organization to the public through her skilled way of receiving callers and her special qualities.

4. Decency And Orderliness: The duties of the receptionist brings orderliness and decency in the company as people are not allowed to wander around the company seeking for whoever or whatever they want and disrupting activities in the organization.

Qualities Of A Receptionist

A good receptionist is expected to have some personal qualities which would help her in the efficient discharge of her duties. The receptionist is therefore expected to possess the following qualities:

1. Courtesy: A good receptionist should be courteous in dealing with the members of the public. This means visitors that call personally, and that come across your way. Words such as sir, ma, chief, doctor, etc., should be used when discussing with certain visitors.

2. Tactfulness: The receptionist is also expected to be tactful in dealing with visitors. Tactfulness means being careful in order not to hurt the feelings of, or pick quarrel with visitors. Since the receptionist deals with various types of people, he or she should be careful in choosing her words when discussing with callers wither personally or through the telephone. Some words such as ‘this man’, ‘get away’, ‘i don’t have time’, ‘i am busy’, ‘I can’t help you’, etc., should be avoided. Though there may be some difficult callers, the receptionist should be trained in such a way that she deals with them tactfully and thus successfully.

3. Modesty And Neatness In Dressing: This implies that the receptionist should always take care of her appearance. Being ambassador of the company, the callers assess the company by the appearance of the receptionist. She should always dress smartly by putting on well-sewn, neat and ironed dresses when going to work. Note that this does not necessarily mean going for expensive dresses. This also applies to her shoe, belt, bag and her hair. Her shoe should be well polished and mended when necessary. Nothing rates one down like worn-out shoes, bags, belt, unkept hair, dirty and uncared fingernails.

4. The receptionist should always be polite by being cheerful to people that come across her way. She should not be a “stone-faced” person. She should always greet people with a smile.

5. Flair For Language: The Receptionist should have the ability to speak and interact very well in her immediate language and the language of communication in the environment where she is. For example, a person employed as a receptionist in Lagos should know how to speak and understand both English and Yoruba Languages. Similarly, a receptionist in Enugu, Onitsha or Aba should be able to speak Igbo and English. For northern areas, she should be able to speak English and Hausa. Most foreign embassies do not employ a person that does not understand their native language. You can not work in French embassy for example, if you can not speak French very well.

6. Sound Human Relation: The receptionist should be the type of fellow that is always willing to meet and interact with people. She should therefore be sociable, cheerful, and not easily provoked. She should be patient in dealing with difficult callers and always ready to listen to people irrespective of their class in the society. Maintaining good human relation calls for caution, understanding and wisdom on the part of the receptionist. The slogan “A customer is always right” should be the watchword of the receptionist. The receptionist achieves this by giving the callers warm attention. Apologize courteously when a fixed appointment is not kept.

Qualifications Of The Receptionist

The qualifications needed for a receptionist differs from company to company. You may find a senior secondary school leaver, a university degree holder, HND holder, or National Diploma holder working as a receptionist.

The strength, size, scope of management and general prosperity of the organization determine the quality of staff the company employs.

However, the minimum qualification is Secondary School Certificate (SSC) or it’s equivalent. Presently, virtually every business activity is computerised. Therefore, a receptionist should have good knowledge of computer and internet operations.

Duties Of The Receptionist

The main duties of the receptionist are:

1. Receiving Callers
2. Handling Telephones
3. Maintaining Record Of Visitors

1. Receiving Callers: Persons of various categories visit an organization. It is the duty of the receptionist to receive them since her office is the first place they would see after being cleared by the security men at the gate. As was stated earlier, The receptionist should be a person that is always willing and happy to interact with or meet people. She should always greet callers with a smile and be eager to hear what they have come for. These qualities enable her to carry out her duty efficiently and successfully.

It is therefore the duty of the receptionist to direct callers to the offices or persons they wish to see. She may need to call the person or department concerned with intercom informing him that Mr this or that wants to see him. A caller may be required to wait for sometime if the person he wants to see is not on seat, or if he is busy. The receptionist should keep him happy and warm by making him relax and feel at home. This she achieves by offering him seat and occupying him with newspapers, magazines or the company’s journals, if any. Some prosperous companies offer tea and snacks if the visitor waits for a long time. Some comments such as, “Sorry Mr A is not on seat, would you mind waiting for some minutes? Meanwhile, keep yourself busy with is newspaper,” are enough to make a visitor feel at home.

It is very necessary that the visitor should always be informed about his reason for waiting especially when the waiting lasts too long. The following may be reasons for waiting if the officer is in the premises of the organization:

i. When a superior officer visits the organization e.g visit of the General Manager.

ii. When the officer is at a meeting especially if he is presiding over the meeting. If a crucial case is being handled e.g. Disciplinary committee meeting etc.

2. Handling Telephone: In big offices, the receptionist receives individual callers as well as telephone calls. Big organization install a central switchboard which enables the receptionist receive telephone calls from outside the organization and direct the calls to the concerned persons or departments. When answering the telephone, the receptionist should be courteous and tactful. In answer to a call for example, the receptionist may say “This is Tipstago Company, can i help you please?” “Sorry, the director is holding a meeting right now, would you mind calling again?

3. Maintaining Records Of Visitors And Messages: The receptionist maintains record of visitors by keeping visitors book where particulars of all categories of visitors that come into the organization are recorded. She gives comprehensive account of the visitors by writing their names, date of visit, time of visit, purpose of visit, and time of departure. In the same manner, she keeps records of callers through the telephone. If the person wanted on the phone is not on seat, she takes down the message on a book known as telephone message pad. It contains the name and telephone numbers and the actual manager.

Other duties of the receptionist include selling the company’s publications, receiving mails especially those despatched by hand. Doing some minor filing of documents, etc..

Nowadays, because of the emergency of GSM (Global System For Mobile Telephony), the duty of the receptionist in this respect is fast declining. Individual workers as well as executive officers of organizations now posses their own private phones known as mobile phones. Callers now call the direct private lines of workers and officers rather than calling through the general telephone line of the company. Some companies even give mobile phones to their workers through which they could be communicated whenever their attention is needed.

Types Of Visitors That Come Into The Organization

It is important that the receptionist knowns the type of visitors that come into the organization as this would enable her know how to treat them. The following types of visitors may visit the premises of an organization:

1. Visitors On Appointment: These are visitors whose appointment had been previously fixed. Therefore both the receptionist and the person for whom the visitor comes know the date, time and the purpose of the visit. A visitor on appointment should be given prompt attention. If there is any reason he should see the officer immediately, the receptionist should make him comfortable while he waits by offering him a seat and newspaper to keep him busy while he waits. He may be offered snacks and tea or cold drink. Finally, he should be made to understand why he waits.

2. Emergency Visitor: Emergency visitor does not have any previous appointment with the company, rather he comes in, unexpectedly for an important matter. Emergency visitors always come for important matters and for this reason, he should be given prompt attention. The visit of a state governor to a secondary school may be said to be emergence visit. Likewise the visit of Parents Teachers Association chairman to the principal to discuss important issue. Also in a business organization a general manager may unexpectedly visit the organization to observe operations.

3. Casual Visitors: This is the type of visitors that just walk into the organization for one thing or the other which may not be the interest of the company. No previous appointment is fixed for such a visit. An example of such visitor is a person who comes into the organization to visit his friend that works there. Such a person is a casual visitor so also is a school leaver who comes to ask if there is any vacancy for employment. However this type of visitors should equally be treated well for the preservation of the company’s image.

All these categories of visitors deserve fair and courteous treatment. They deserve to be assisted, directed and made to be comfortable while in the premises of the organization. These are the responsibilities of the receptionist.