Being a great receptionist is all about the personal qualities that each individual brings to the table. Whether you are hiring a receptionist or you have set out to become one, it helps to know some of the most important traits of a good receptionist. Personality traits have often been termed as the "Big 5", which include Openness to Experience, Extroversion-Introversion, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Agreeableness. However, we feel that the same blunt tool can't be applied when it comes to hiring receptionists. While being agreeable is definitely the most important personality trait, there are many more traits that we have found make a great receptionist.
1. Being open to new people and ideas
One of the most important responsibilities of an in-house or virtual receptionist is to greet and speak to clients and customers from various backgrounds and cultures. This means, the receptionist has to be culturally sensitive, which is a quality that comes naturally to those who score high on being open to new things. Being open-minded helps receptionists to creatively solve problems, and ensure that every customer or client is attended to in a respectful and polite manner.
2. Being friendly and polite
Being friendly and polite is a quality that can be learned, but it is also a personality trait which is natural to some people. Few people just don’t have to try too hard. They always speak with a smile, are kind and resourceful, and ensure that they do not cross the boundaries of civility. This quality is very important for receptionists as they always need to be on their toes to ensure that no caller or visitor is made to feel uninvited or unwanted.
3. Being sociable
As receptionists need to speak a lot and interact with a lot of people, having extroverted qualities can help. However, this doesn’t mean introverts cannot be hired as receptionists. Introverts can always be sociable, as long as they find time to recharge their inner energy level. Some advice that we often give to our virtual receptionists who are introverts is to take frequent short breaks, and get some time for themselves.
4. Being judicious and careful
If you are applying for a receptionist’s job, or if you wish to hire a receptionist, make sure that importance to judiciousness is given. After all, one of the most important tasks of a receptionist is to take notes and record information. While virtual receptionists simply enter all details into their systems, receptionists on the floor may find it difficult to take organized notes that don't wind up lost. This is one of the reasons why you should hire someone who is judicious and careful.
5. Able to control emotions
It is very common for receptionists to find themselves in a fix, or feeling cornered by clients, visitors or customers. However, as every virtual receptionist would know, it is critical to display appropriate emotions so that work can continue smoothly. Even when someone is being really difficult, the receptionists need to be able to remain stoic and work efficiently. This requires a higher emotional intelligence than other jobs might.
6. Able to empathize with others
Some customers who contact a business are irate, and some are very sad or upset. In fact, customers can have various types of emotions when they call in, and an important aspect of being a receptionist or call center agent is to be able to recognize these emotions in the caller (or visitor), and make sure that they are helped the way the particular situation demands. This requires empathy, the ability to walk in another person’s shoes. If you find a receptionist who is able to empathize, then you have found the best receptionist for yourself.
7. Ability to work under duress
A receptionist has to work under high amounts of stress, suddenly juggling many tasks at once. There are always deadlines to meet, meetings to schedule, calls to make, and dozens of other duties, none of which can be postponed or forgotten. This of course, may cause a lot of stress for receptionists. Nevertheless, a good receptionist is the one that is able to handle it gracefully, without wincing. It makes sense to hire a receptionist who is not only able to remain calm and focused, but is also seemingly unaffected by it.
8. Ability to remain calm even when cornered
If the client or customer is angry with the employer, the aggression is usually directed toward the "messenger" - the receptionist or the call center agent - as they are the human face (or voice) of the company. A good receptionist is the one that is able to remain calm even when clients or customers corner them.
9. Ability to make quick decisions
It goes without saying that when the time comes, a receptionist will probably have to make some big decisions regarding company affairs, even if that is not within their purview. This is because, the boss may be unavailable, the manager probably isn’t around, and the customer or client needs a quick solution. Answering service agents simply cannot keep a customer on hold or ask them to call back later. They will need to make some difficult decisions to keep things smooth and have a very good understanding of the business practices.
10. Being patient
The most important virtue and personality trait of a receptionist is to be patient and calm. "Patience is a virtue" - but it is also a personality trait. Hiring a receptionist who is able to patiently answer questions, deal with situations calmly, and listen to people before speaking, is very important. In fact, patience could be the single most important quality of an answering service agent.
As you can see, a receptionist not only has to have regular note-taking and communication skills, but must also have certain personality traits such as being open minded, friendly and sociable, careful and diligent, empathetic and patient, and always in control of one's emotions and actions. It might seem like a tall order for most people out there dreaming of becoming receptionists, but these are the very qualities that will help every budding receptionist to climb the career ladder.