The receptionist is an often overlooked but incredibly important member of the modern office staff. When performing at the top of their game, these professionals make everyone around them more productive while simultaneously serving as the face of their organizations. The importance of a great receptionist truly can’t be overstated.
As many businesses embrace remote models and transition to offering 24 hour support for callers, virtual receptionist services are becoming more in demand. Before you hire such a professional, it’s important to understand the impact they can have on your team. While you might never meet them in person, a virtual receptionist can have a tremendous influence on your sales goals, your productivity rate, customer satisfaction, and the overall impression your business leaves on callers. Here’s a breakdown of the ideal skills and qualities of a receptionist who works for a third party:
Virtual receptionists are often the first people customers connect with when communicating with an organization. In a sense, they’re the face – or the voice – of the business as a whole. Callers want to speak with pleasant professionals who make their days better, not worse. That’s why geniality – or general friendliness – is one of the most in-demand qualities of a virtual receptionist. Whether they’re booking an appointment, answering questions, or connecting callers to the appropriate department, receptionists must lead with enthusiasm and manners.
In a sense, friendliness is an extension of a person’s professionalism. You only get one shot at a first impression, which is why it’s so important to hire a virtual receptionist who can inject every conversation with a smile and upbeat attitude. This is often easier said than done, especially when dealing with disgruntled customers, but it’s one of the most important qualities a receptionist can have.
The best virtual receptionist listens more than they speak. While that might seem counterintuitive, professional receptionists must work to understand precisely why a person is calling and how best to serve them. That starts with active listening. In order to actively listen on the phone, a receptionist must truly tune into what a caller is saying, rather than just waiting for their turn to talk.
Practicing active listening is a good way to develop this skill. The next time you’re on the phone with a customer, try mirroring their messaging. For instance, if a caller is dialing in to schedule a grooming appointment for their beloved pet chihuahua, try repeating back what they’re asking for before launching into next steps. While it might feel silly at first, getting on the same page as the caller can save everyone serious time and energy.
An Even Temper
It’s common for even the best virtual receptionist to feel cornered by callers. When customers dial in with a frustration or issue, they often unfairly take it out on the person answering their call. It’s difficult not to take things personally or go on the defensive, but quality receptionists will maintain a calm and collected demeanor no matter what. This requires serious emotional intelligence and maturity and won’t be found in every candidate.
In many ways, a receptionist serves as the face of an organization. By remaining even-tempered and taking a proactive approach to conflict resolution, receptionists can satisfy even the most unruly of callers. Much of the time, this comes down to staying calm under pressure. It’s a skill that requires experience and practice. When you decide to hire a virtual secretary, be sure to review this all too important telephone etiquette tip for receptionists.
There was once a time when a receptionist who could create spreadsheets and maintain a calendar could hold their own in the position. Now, however, receptionists rely on a wide range of software applications to take calls, manage accounts, and record information. In some cases, the technical skills needed for a receptionist bleed over into their conversations with callers. Receptionists may even provide tier one tech support and must be able to instruct others on the use of technology.
It’s okay for a receptionist not to know how to do everything on every platform, but they should have enough technical savvy to learn new skills quickly. Receptionist duties and skills often boil down to their willingness to try new things and master new competencies. By working with a tech savvy receptionist, you know you’ll always be able to count on their ability to rise to the occasion.
Technology is constantly evolving – as are the expectations of customers. Receptionists work with a variety of individuals, personality types, and their expectations. Two days on the job are rarely the same, and these professionals must work quickly to adapt. Customer service tips for receptionists often start and end with resilience; it’s okay not to know the answer to a particular question, but the best receptionists know how to learn on the go.
Flexibility in scheduling is another important aspect to consider when working with a receptionist. Most full-time, in-house receptionists work traditional business hours, leaving after-hours calls for the voicemail machine. The cost of a missed call can be greater than you might realize, which is why so many organizations are opting to partner with a 24 hour virtual receptionist service. If your receptionist can’t offer you flexibility in their availability, it may be time to consider such a partnership.
They say patience is a virtue, but it’s also one of the most important qualities in the best virtual receptionists. Even the most tech savvy, organized, and efficient professionals will struggle in the role if they’re not leading with patience and empathy. Callers may be frustrated or confused about who they need to speak with or what they need to do. It’s the job of the receptionist to meet that frustration with patience, guiding the caller through their options, whether it’s the first call of the day or the hundredth.
While it’s true that no two days are identical for the average receptionist, the monotony of handling inbound calls can get to anyone. In fact, one of the main benefits of having a receptionist is passing along administrative chores to a more patient professional. In turn, you and your team will gain more time to tackle your individual to-do lists, leading to increased productivity for all. Patience might not seem like a superpower, but the most patient of receptionists can truly revolutionize your organization.
Dependability is another factor to consider when you’re about to hire a virtual receptionist. You can attract the most talented receptionist to your organization, but if they’re a no-show when their shift arrives, you might have to continue your search. Reliability is one of the most important qualities of a good receptionist. These professionals keep offices around the world productive and functional.
Hiring a dependable receptionist can be more challenging than you might expect. Some candidates perform extremely well in interviews but until you bring them on staff, it’s hard to know whether you can count on them to show up for their shifts. Even if you do manage to find a reliable receptionist, they’ll need time off for sick leave and vacations. For especially busy offices, minor absences like lunch breaks can cause issues. It’s just one of the many reasons that organizations are turning to live virtual receptionist services for support.
Our nation grows more and more diverse every year. The United States is home to the second-largest population of Spanish speakers in the world. Beyond Spanish, there are millions of Americans who speak Chinese, French, Tagalog, and a multitude of other languages. Though it might seem like a luxury to hire a multilingual receptionist, it’s becoming increasingly important that administrative professionals have such skills.
Of all the most in-demand personal qualities of a receptionist, multilingualism is one of the most important. Such professionals can really set your business apart from your competitors. You’re able to reach a larger base of customers while also offering more comprehensive services to your existing clients. Skip the unreliable translation apps and hire someone who can easily bridge the communication gaps between you and your customers – it’ll pay off in spades.
Try MAP’s Live Receptionist Service for Free
It’s easy to assume that good receptionist skills lie in message taking or scheduling abilities. While those things are important, communication skills are the backbone of any quality receptionist. By maintaining a friendly, flexible and dependable image over the phone, these professionals bolster the reputation of their entire organizations.
Eager to harness this kind of power for your office? Sign up for a free seven day trial of MAP Communications’ virtual secretary service. It’s a great way to see first-hand how our team of professional receptionists can transform your business. Since there’s no obligation to continue using our services after the trial ends, it’s a fantastic no-risk opportunity to see the impact MAP can have on your company.
Here are some related articles you might be interested in: