How to be a great receptionist

I recently read an article from 2007 written by Seth Goddin on How to be a great receptionist. While Seth has some great suggestions the reality is reception staff are required to do so much work they often simply do not get the time they would need to accommodate many of the ideas Seth has suggested.

2007 was a long time ago when we think about the current technology boom we are in the middle of, it was not until 2010 before we had iPads. I walk into a lot of reception areas every year. Seth is spot on about reception staff in good and bad moods, the impression on the visitor of a receptionist in a bad mood is instant and often relayed in several stories to more people after the event. The experience a visitor has with a receptionist in a good mood is lifting.

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Just last week I walked into a reception of a large corporate office where only 2-3 reception staff receive around 800 visitors a day. This is a very busy reception area, there are not to many single office buildings that exceed 1000 visitors a day. Despite the need to process 800 visitors every day the reception staff did all the right things as soon as I walked up to the desk, they signed me in and gave me a visitor pass with a badge number and a lanyard, they offered me tea and coffee and also asked if I would like a bottle of water. My experience was fantastic, I felt welcome. I also felt noticed, despite thousands of people coming through the reception are every week I was made to feel important.

I believe this building to be an exception to the norm, most reception areas I walk into these days the reception or admin staff are multitasking and often on arrival I find myself waiting for the reception staff to finish a phone call before being able to assist. Another large corporate with 3 reception staff attending to hundreds of visitors each day also had to take product support calls. It was not uncommon to find myself waiting for 3-4 minutes until I could be attended to.

Each building is different, each employee in reception is different, mostly today I see reception staff taking on multiple tasks making it increasingly difficult to give the best first impression.

How could you improve your reception are?