Ten Tips on Greeting Office Visitors

As the person seated behind the front desk of your office, you are in control of visitors’ first impressions of the company. Here’s how to ensure that those first impressions are positive ones:

  1. Project professionalism. Remember that you’re one of the company’s most important assets. As receptionist, you’re a gatekeeper, but you’re also charged with giving visitors their first taste of the office culture. By projecting a professional, capable demeanor, you imply that guests’ experience with the business as a whole will follow suit.
  2. Greet all visitors loud and clear. While it seems self-evident, plenty of front-desk workers mumble their salutations. Saying “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” in a steady, audible tone imparts an air of capability sure to be appreciated by all office visitors.
  3. Ask visitors whom their appointment is with. Assuming a guest is there to see the wrong person suggests inefficiency, something no one in your business wants that person to feel going into a professional exchange with your company.
  4. Ask for the visitor’s name and note the pronunciation. This way, when you alert a member of your office that their visitor is on site, you’ll also guarantee they know how to address the visitor, in case he or she has a name with a unique pronunciation.
  5. Keep the visitor informed. After you’ve notified a colleague that their visitor has arrived, let the visitor know you’ve done that — i.e., “Mr. Fox will be with you shortly.”
  6. Offer refreshments. If your colleague tells you they are tied up on a call or stuck in a meeting and might be delayed in greeting their visitor, offer the guest any refreshment that you might have on hand. Simple acts of hospitality, such as offering a glass of water or a cup of tea, can be a simple gesture that serves to mitigate any frustration a waiting visitor might have.
  7. Know the lay of the land. As the person sitting behind the front desk, you’ll be the one who’s asked where the restroom is, where supplies are located, and myriad other basic questions regarding the office. Be sure you’re able to easily give directions to the basic parts of the office: lavatory; drinking fountain; copy and fax machines; supply closet.
  8. Keep your cool. As the person charged with handling those who come in and out of an office, it’s likely that you’ll be thrown into the occasional stressful situation: multiple visitors at one time; several phone lines ringing simultaneously; questions you might not have answers to. Remaining calm throughout any situation is key in providing top-notch assistance. Visitors to your office, as well as your colleagues, will keep the faith even if you ask that they wait their turn for your assistance, so long as you always project a professional, can-do manner. Asking people to hold on while you find the answer to a difficult question or tackle a high-priority task is perfectly acceptable — remember that you get to regulate the order and manner in which things get done in the front office. By governing the situation, you’ll be sure not to let it rule you. Check out Reducing Stress in the Workplace for some good pointers.
  9. Know when to ask for help. Though you’re the one charged with offering assistance, as the previous examples show, one person cannot always be all things to all people. Therefore, ensure that your supervisors let you train another colleague on the phones and other front-desk tasks in case you need to step away from the area or recruit assistance in the midst of a high-traffic time. Sometimes just knowing that backup is available if needed can help you perform your job more capably.
  10. Diversify whenever possible. Though you’re the one ensuring office visitors get what they need from the experience, don’t feel confined by that role. Any workplace can benefit from an employee willing to assume more responsibility than asked. Fill downtime with projects that can assist your colleagues, and not only will your stock with them rise, but you’ll be sure to continue developing yourself as an asset to your company.

Visit the AllBusiness.com Forms & Agreements section to see an online sample of receptionist job description form.