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A small business receptionist does much more than greet visitors to your office or direct incoming phone calls. A receptionist often handles deliveries, processes the mail, places outbound calls for managers and handles solicitors. Small businesses get the most out of their receptionists by assigning ongoing tasks to fill downtime, such as managing office supplies, simple invoicing, database entry or typing and proofreading correspondence. An analysis of your organization chart and a detailed job description will help you get the most out of your receptionist position.
Make a Good First Impression
Your receptionist is often the first person with whom your customers or vendors have contact. If she is disorganized, unfamiliar with your personnel or departments or physically unkempt, it sends a message about how organized your company is or how seriously you take your business. Set a dress code for your receptionist, which might preclude her from taking part in “casual Friday” dress. Prohibit chewing gum at her desk, taking lunch in the reception area, playing music while working or adding personal decorations to her work station. Require her to keep her desktop neat and her computer monitor facing away from visitors. Familiarize your receptionist with key customers and vendors so that she can make them feel important and valued by remembering their names, knowing their companies and understanding what they make or sell.
Provide Efficient Trafficking
When visitors arrive and people phone, a receptionist should not have to guess or research where your staff is located. Train your receptionist to know exactly what the company does, including basic product or service knowledge so she understands who the key contacts are and where to direct inquiries. Make sure she knows how your office is organized so she can direct packages, mail and customer or vendor inquiries to the right people. Train her so that she is familiar with your personnel and their positions, including the correct pronunciations of any uncommon names. Set procedures for accepting and signing for packages, which is important not only from an efficiency standpoint, but also to improve safety and reduce liability.
A receptionist may have considerable downtime during the day if you receive infrequent phone calls and visitors. A receptionist position can improve your workplace productivity by handling one or more clerical functions. Many receptionists perform simple billing, manage inventory, sort and deliver mail, update websites, handle database entry and correspondence, send emails from a catchall account to the appropriate departments and keep attendance records. Small business executives who do not have personal assistants often rely on receptionists to give clients the impression they have assistants by assigning tasks such as placing phone calls and setting appointments.
Maintain Office Morale
The receptionist of a small business is often the “human water cooler” of an office. Most employees have some contact with the receptionist on a daily basis, and they often chitchat and discuss workplace news. The receptionist is aware of group lunch plans and knows if someone brought treats to the break room, has a birthday, becomes engaged or receives a promotion. She can be constructive in improving company morale or be destructive by spreading rumors and gossip. Query employees as to their opinions of your receptionist to determine if she is a positive or a negative influence when it comes to employee morale.