Your receptionist is often the first point of contact people have with your office. Visitors or callers gain their first impression of how efficient, friendly and on the ball your entire organisation is from how well that first encounter is handled. Anyone who is responsible for office reception duties, whatever their age or level of experience, requires training in several essential skills. Supplement basic training with regular refresher sessions to maintain high standards.
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Build your receptionist's confidence from the outset. Encourage her to take ownership for her skills development by asking her to suggest areas in which she feels she needs training rather than being completely prescriptive.
Purpose and Overview
For training to be effective, your receptionist needs to know why her role is important to the organisation and exactly what it involves. Make sure she understands precisely what is expected from her and what "excellence" would look like. Ask for her comments about ways in which things might be done differently and improved.
Use video clips to demonstrate the right and wrong ways to receive visitors. Emphasise the need for calm, friendly efficiency and extending a warm greeting, no matter how busy or stressed she might be. Ask your receptionist to compare her behaviour with what she has viewed. Get her to feed back the lessons she has learnt from the exercise.
Your receptionist may have to deal with incoming calls at the same time as carrying out her other duties. Make sure she understands what the rules are concerning priorities, transfers and waiting times. Take her through message-taking procedures. Introduce a role play exercise for practising these skills.
Customer care involves empathy, listening, and responding appropriately. Waiting visitors require appropriate hospitality which covers seating, refreshments and reading material. Your receptionist is responsible for making sure they are comfortable, have all they need and don't feel they are waiting too long.
Appearance and Manner
A smart appearance and good grooming are essential for a receptionist. Clothing should reflect the formality of the office, whether a creative studio or a law firm. A mature and friendly manner is also important. Training in this area often involves discussing examples of what would or would not be appropriate and the reasons why.
Dealing with Difficult People
Your receptionist will often have to deal with difficult customers or complaints, either from visitors or on the phone. She needs to be skilled in remaining calm yet being appropriately assertive. Role play exercises and videos are helpful as a focus for this area.
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