Any company that has face-to-face contact with customers or clients knows the importance of hiring the right person as a receptionist. The receptionist is the first person clients see when they visit your offices. Most clients will have interacted little or not at all with your company ahead of time. That means that this one person represents 100% of your company at the moment a client enters your office.
Once you understand just how much the receptionist means for your business, you realize the importance of finding just the right person for the job. But how do you know if a candidate is the best person to represent your company? First, consider these three A’s:
Appeal. While you would never want to hire someone solely based on his or her appearance, the best person for your front desk would be someone who is appealing, approachable, and makes a good first impression. This has more to do with the candidates’ self-confidence and how they present themselves than anything else. When interviewing, pay attention to how the candidate responds to your questions, his or her body language, and whether the overall impression is warm and welcoming.
Attitude. While it’s true that first impressions are made with our eyes, it only lasts for a second, until they open their mouth. Your receptionist needs to project your company’s image, but his or her attitude has to match your company’s as well. The way they speak to clients or customers will either make or break that first impression, so finding the person with the right attitude is crucial. Do you need someone who can quickly empathize with a patient who may be in pain or a defendant who’s worried about a legal case? Or do you need someone who can “talk shop” with a potential client who has just come in? Try to determine what attitude the right person for your front desk should have.
Aptitude. Finally, you must consider what the receptionist’s job will entail and find someone with a matching skill set. Even if you find some candidates with the perfect appeal and attitude to accurately represent your company, if they don’t have the necessary skills to perform the required tasks, then they’re not the right person for the job. Do you need someone to answer phones and deal with disgruntled clients while keeping their cool? Do you need someone to manage the company calendar, plan meetings, and coordinate logistics? Figure out what you expect this person to do and look for candidates who meet the criteria and have all of the relevant work experience.
The person sitting at your front desk has an important role in the way your company appears to the world, yet ironically the turnover for this position is usually very high. Low pay, high stress, and sometimes even a lack of professionalism can make receptionist positions difficult to staff for longer periods of time.
But if you want to have the best person for the job at your front desk (and want to keep him or her there!) your company must invest in that position:
Offer a higher salary. One of the main reasons for the high turnover for front desk positions is the fact they usually offer very low pay. If you want to attract the right candidates and keep them longer, consider offering a higher salary. Remember, if you pay people more than they think they’re worth, they’ll work up to that level; if you pay them less, they’ll work down to that level.
Lessen the stress. It may not be the easiest thing to keep the stress level low since a lot of it simply depends on the nature of your business and your industry. But trying to minimize stress for your front desk staff can help them do their job better and have a better attitude. Try rotating the position among different employees, if you can. Or consider hiring multiple people to handle different tasks, like greeting customers, answering calls, or assisting staff members.
Encourage professionalism. Your front desk staff is the eyes and ears of your organization – which can, unfortunately, lead to office gossip and other unprofessional behaviors. Make sure your receptionists (and all of your employees) treat each other with respect, staying friendly but always ensuring that they keep things professional.
Seek solutions. Even with the right, qualified candidate, things can go wrong – phones can go unanswered or meetings can get mixed up. These bumps can lead to sinking morale for your front desk staff. When things aren’t working out, don’t automatically assume it’s your staff’s fault. Look into the problem to determine if there’s a way to make their job more streamlined and therefore reduce problems. Ask them for suggestions, since they know best what’s working and what’s not.
Do you think you have the right front desk staff at your company? How did you find them?