How to be a Good Receptionist

Congratulations! You’ve hired a receptionist. It can be a little nerve-wracking having someone new come into the position, especially one as important to a company as a receptionist. Hiring a quality employee for a receptionist position means that you’ve hired the face of a company. You may begin to feel anxious determining if you’ve made the right choice or not. If you’re concerned that the new hire isn’t sure how to be a good receptionist and succeed in their new line of work, look no further.

How to be a good receptionist on the phone

How to be a Good Receptionist: On the Phone

One of the most important duties as a receptionist is to answer the phone correctly. This goes for both virtual receptionists as well as those who work in-office. In addition to taking messages and saying hello prior to announcing the business name, your name, and asking how you can help them, there a few things you may need to remember.

Be Enthusiastic

First and foremost, learn to love the sound of the phone ringing! It may sound like a silly ask, but remember: if the phone didn’t ring, your employer wouldn’t need to have you on staff. If you learn to love the sound of the phone, you’ll answer it with the enthusiasm that a good receptionist should have. If you’re answering the phone with a monotone voice, you’re not representing your company in the best light.

Be Prompt

How to be a good receptionist: be prompt

When you hear that phone ring, try to answer it by the second ring. Time goes by at a different rate for someone who is need of assistance. Three, four or five rings can feel like an eternity–at that point, they are already beginning to assume that their call will go unanswered.

The same goes for when you place someone on hold–try to keep that hold time under one minute. People become impatient quickly, and their mood may go sour as a result. Customers do not want to be on hold for long, and the longer that they are placed on hold, the lower their opinion of your company will be.

Consider your Tone

It’s said that during a face-to-face conversation, 55% of the communication is through body language, 38% is through tone of voice, and only 7% is from the words used. However, on the telephone, 83% of your communication is through your tone of voice. Only 17% is the words you’re using!How to be a good receptionist: Half of my problems are because of my tone of voice, everyone thinks I'm arguing while I'm actually talking

With that being the case, it’s very important to not sound monotone, which will come off like like you’re uninterested in helping them. It’s even more crucial that you don’t let outside issues put you in a mood that will have your tone sound angry. Too much is on the line for you to not sound kind as the first impression of a company.


Yes, even (and especially!) when you are answering the phone. When you smile, it turns on a part of your brain that instantly makes you happier. That will make you sound more approachable on the phone. Some suggest that receptionists should keep a mirror on their desk to see themselves smile. That way, you’ll be constantly reminded to keep a smile on your face and a great attitude toward others.

How to be a good receptionist: smile!

Phrases to Say Frequently

  • Please
  • Thank you
  • You’re welcome
  • My pleasure
  • Good morning
  • Good afternoon
  • Have a great day
  • Have a great weekend
  • The caller’s name

How to be a Good Receptionist: At the Office

How to be a good receptionist in person

If you’re a receptionist in person, you’ll need to be aware of a few other things. For one, the person in front of you should take precedence over a ringing phone. If you’re already engaged with a customer on the phone, you should find a way to acknowledge the present guest. Smile or nod to let them know that they are important to you and you will be with them shortly.

Appearance & Professionalism

Because a receptionist is the face of a company, it is all the more important to maintain a professional appearance. Appropriate business attire, well kempt hair, and good hygiene are expected. A good receptionist does not chew gum during work hours, nor check their personal phone. They will have good posture and be sure not to slouch.

How to be a good receptionist: appearance and professionalism

Be Enthusiastic in Person

You should greet anyone who comes in the door with enthusiasm. The customer should be your priority! Don’t let anything going on in or outside of the office affect your performance and ability to be welcoming to customers. No one should know if you’re having on off day, feeling sad or angry. You also shouldn’t alert to a caller of that by speaking with a rushed voice or hurrying them on hold.

The customer should become your passion. Even if they may be wrong, it is not your job to make them aware of this. It’s your job to give them exceptional customer service and to direct them toward whom they need to speak to.

The Other E’s

According to Steve Staunting, the best receptionist knows the method of three E’s: Enunciate with enthusiasm to be Effective. Below is an example of using the three E’s with a customer:

In addition, he suggests remembering two more Es: Everytime and everything. It’s important or a good receptionist to be consistent, giving the same quality of service to whomever walks in the door. Everything is referring to a reminder to write everything down! Repeat everything that is said back to the caller to be sure that the message is clear.  It may seem like overkill, but a good receptionist can and will always know all of the information that will be asked prior to picking up the receiver for someone waiting on hold or returning a missed call. A good receptionist will also be sure to write down the time of the call.

Apply this to your small business

Finding good employees is difficult enough! If you’ve hired someone on as a receptionist, they should be able to fulfill all the above outlined expectations.

Now, give these a try: