If you have ever applied for the post of a receptionist, or if you have even gone through the job advertisement for the post of a receptionist, you would know the basic requirements and traits that an organization looks for in a receptionist. Apart from the educational qualifications and other requirements, these two prerequisites are a must. 'Should have a pleasing personality' and 'should possess excellent communication skills'! Am I not right? These qualities are required because a receptionist is the interface between an outside customer and the organization. So, the impression that the receptionist will have on the customers, is the impression that the customers will have towards the organization and its people. Be it in person, or via telephone, a receptionist shoulders a huge responsibility in creating goodwill of the organization. We shall be discussing the phone etiquette that should be followed by a receptionist so that the customers feel welcomed and important.
Essential Phone Etiquette for a Receptionist
The biggest misconception that people have when they talk to someone over the phone is that, 'because the person cannot see us, he cannot sense our body language'. In fact, a person can easily sense your casualty or your body language just by the way you speak and respond to their queries. In fact, a minute is enough for a telephonic customer to make an impression (in terms of knowledge, skills and professionalism) about the person he or she is speaking to. Therefore, in order to create the correct impression, a receptionist needs to follow certain telephone etiquette, they are mentioned here.
Speak with a Smile
The first and foremost thing that you do when you make or receive a call, is to greet the caller, so make sure you do that with a smile. Yes, I know that the caller can't see you smiling, but then it is a fact that when you smile and talk, your voice seems to sound more welcoming and cheerful. The person on the other end would perceive the voice to be friendly, helpful and welcoming, which would also be the impression of the organization.
Be Polite and Attentive
Though the caller cannot see you physically, he can definitely sense your absence and lack of attention from just the way you talk! For example, if the caller asks you to transfer the call to Ms. White, and you end up asking the name again because you just weren't paying attention, the impression of you and the organization that you work for would be 'unprofessional' and careless. Therefore, you always need to be polite (even when the customer is angry, may be due to a bad experience with the previous person he or she spoke to) to each and every customer and pay close attention to his or her needs and requirements.
Never Interrupt the Caller, Listen First and then Respond!
Do you ever like being interrupted when you are speaking to a customer service representative over the phone? Another blunder that phone receptionists do is that they assume that they have understood what the caller is trying to say, even before the caller finishes his or her sentence! This is something you must never ever do! The most important part of communication is to listen with full attention, let the other person complete his or her sentence and then respond to the query with complete politeness and professionalism. If you have not understood the customer's query, instead of saying, "sorry I didn't get you", say, "I understood that you are (say the little bit of what you understood), Is this correct?" This way the customer would repeat himself or herself, and you will get a chance to clarify your doubts without putting an impression that the customer was not understandable!
Take Permission, and then Put the Caller on Hold
The main job of a receptionist is to either answer certain business queries and information, or connect the call to the correct person. It is not always that the receptionist will have ready answers. There may be a need to place the caller on hold to solve the concern, or to transfer the call to the concerned person or department. You must always ask the caller's permission to place the call on hold, and also specify as to for how long will the caller have to be on hold. It is also advisable to take their call back number so that in case the call gets disconnected, you can call them back. This indicates professionalism, and conveys the caller the idea that the receptionist knows his or her job really well!
Thank the Customer for Calling!
Once the query has been resolved, or if you are transferring the call to a different department, thank the customer for calling by taking their name. This would make the customer feel important and would create a sense of satisfaction with the organization as a whole.
Attentiveness, politeness and professionalism is what is expected as a part of the duties and responsibilities of a receptionist. Another very basic, yet very important point to be kept in mind is to always use professional words and not casual slang. There is always a yes, instead of a 'ya'. Terms and phrases like 'not really', 'am sorry, could you say that again', 'OK, see ya' are not acceptable at all! Also, if you feel like coughing, or sneezing in the middle of the conversation, always press the mute button and do so, instead of sneezing and yawning right on the caller's face when he is trying to talk to you. Just speak with a smile, answer with confidence, and converse with care and concern to make sure that the first impression of you and the organization is the best.