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A good first impression counts, and as the initial point of human contact for any business, a receptionist needs to create a welcoming yet professional image.

After all, a warm greeting by a receptionist can speak volumes about how the company will treat its customers.

But successfully running the front desk calls for much more, and the role of a receptionist demands an impressive line-up of hard and soft skills.

With May 10th marking National Receptionist’s Day, take a closer look at the top seven areas of improvement for a Receptionist that can go a long way to ensure the workplace runs like a well-oiled machine.

1. Strong technical receptionist skills

In today’s technology driven workplace, receptionist skills need to encompass managing both hardware and software including handling phone systems, printers and copiers. Word processing skills are essential but receptionists may also be asked to work with Excel, desktop publishing software or industry specific programs.

With so many companies asking their employees to do more with fewer resources, receptionist often find their duties have expanded well beyond the initial job description and this can call for additional skills such as social media management or event planning.

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2. Ability to work independently

The front desk can be an isolated place. Without colleagues to consult at neighbouring work stations, the ability to work independently is among the top receptionist skills.

This calls for the ability to think fast and come up with innovative solutions to different challenges – all while reassuring clients, customers and co-workers that they in the hands of a professional.

3. A brilliant communicator

Receptionists know that communication skills are at the heart of their job.

Along with providing accurate information about the business to customers, receptionist skills include managing tricky calls, dealing with difficult customers or time-poor co-workers, and sending clear, succinct messages to the appropriate recipient either verbally or in writing via email or SMS.

4. Exceptional time management

Throughout each working day, receptionists juggle a multitude of different tasks, managing the demands of screening calls, making appointments, taking and relaying messages and still completing clerical tasks on time.

It calls for a high level of multi-tasking coupled with strong receptionist skills such as time management and the ability to prioritise duties. In a busy workplace that can mean operating with grace under fire.

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5. A genius organiser

Take a look around your workplace, and it’s likely the front desk is the neatest work area in the office. It has to be this way as a front desk laden with paperwork doesn’t just convey a poor impression to visitors, it can also represent an information security risk.

So a good receptionist has to be a genius organiser with a system in place to find contact details or files at a moment’s notice when requests come in on the fly, while still maintaining a super tidy desk.


6. Dependability

No business can afford to have phone calls unanswered or leave clients unattended – even for just a few minutes.

Companies depend on the receptionist to arrive punctually at the front desk each morning, return from lunch at the allotted time, and not let anything slip through the cracks during the day.

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7. Outstanding interpersonal skills

Research reported in the Harvard Business Review found co-workers tend to collaborate better with like-minded colleagues. This explains why the marketing team tends to socialise together, or the IT department is likely to be a close-knit group.

Receptionists do not have the luxury of working chiefly with colleagues who may be very similar in outlook or qualifications to themselves. They need to maintain good relationships with EVERY employee, including senior management and executives, while also having the interpersonal skills needed to deliver a high quality face-to-face contact with clients and visitors.

Related: How to improve your soft skills

Celebrate National Receptionist’s Day!

As the first (and possibly the last) person to greet you or your visitors at work each day, your receptionists are often unsung heroes.

The bottom line is that the broad range of receptionist skills needed at the front desk, makes the receptionist a well-rounded professional on whom so much of the smooth running of the workplace depends.

National Receptionist’s Day is about taking the time to acknowledge the contribution your receptionist makes in upholding the image of the business and helping you do your job more effectively.

Let's face it: You probably wouldn't be nearly as organised, on the ball or, frankly, successful if it weren't for the hardworking receptionist on your team.