The first impression a customer has of a company is usually made by the receptionist. And if that’s your job, then maintaining a professional demeanor is essential in everything you do. While receptionists accomplish many tasks over the course of a day, their primary responsibility is answering the phone. For some, a friendly, helpful phone manner is effortless. For others, it takes some work. If you identify with the latter, then here are 9 guidelines that will have you answering calls like a pro in no time.
- Be on time. What happens if the receptionist isn’t there? If you are an SAS customer, calls would route to one of our virtual office assistants. If you are not using Specialty, they your calls are probably going to voicemail. New business may be lost. The same may be true if calls are not answered promptly, ideally within the first 2 rings. Remember: reliability = job security.
- Put your best face forward. In other words, smile when you answer the phone! Be upbeat and positive. Exercise patience with challenging callers. Be respectful, and do whatever you can to accommodate the caller’s needs.
- Be polite. Have a standard greeting and use it each time you pick up the phone. “Good morning, it’s a great day at [Office Name]. My name is [Receptionist’s Name]. How can I help you?” Any greeting will do, just make sure it’s professional and pleasant.
- Stay organized. Take detailed notes. Pay attention to what time calls came in and write down caller ID. Have the company directory at your fingertips for fast transfers. And maintain a Rolodex or spreadsheet of other important numbers such as maintenance, emergency contacts, office supply vendors, caterers, etc.
- Listen carefully. Practice active listening. Focus on what the caller is saying and quickly determine where to transfer them to best serve their needs.
- Communicate effectively. Don’t mumble, speak too quickly, or sound forlorn. Do enunciate properly, speak at a comfortable pace, and assist callers with energy and enthusiasm.
- Verify. Take a moment to repeat the caller’s number back to him and make sure it’s correct. If you are unsure how to spell a caller’s name, ask her. Confirm the most important details of the call before passing the message along to its intended recipient.
- Ask the caller’s permission. Before placing someone on hold, ask the caller if it’s ok. “May I place you on a brief hold?” “Will you hold please?” And don’t leave the caller hanging for an extended period of time. One minute on hold can feel like forever.
- Say thank you. If the caller says they will hold, say thank you. If you ask the caller to verify the information you wrote down, say thank you. And when you are ending the conversation, thank them for calling.