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What Is the Role of a Receptionist?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The role of a receptionist can play an important part in the overall image and atmosphere of nearly any business. As the first point of contact for clients and customers, the receptionist is often responsible for the first impression of any person who walks in the door. The role of a receptionist may also include various secretarial tasks that require good organizational skills, as well as computer literacy and strong communication abilities.

In many businesses, the front office or reception area is set up so that all incoming visitors will start at the receptionist's desk. Working as a greeter and initial contact for clients and customers is a major part of the role of the receptionist, as he or she may be responsible for creating a positive first impression. Good personal skills can help a receptionist present him or herself as friendly, welcoming, and competent. Since some visitors may come in already agitated or upset, conflict management training can also be very useful in the role of a receptionist.

The ability to prioritize and work in an organized fashion is crucial to most receptionist jobs. Many receptionists are tasked with keeping company records and filing systems, maintaining daily schedules for company VIPs, and ensuring that the proper chain of command is upheld. A good receptionist must be able to quickly assess the needs of each person or problem that comes to his or her desk, and make sure that problems are managed in the most effective manner. A well-organized receptionist helps a business flow smoothly, ensuring that the right issues are sent to the right department.

Computer skills often play an important part in the role of a receptionist. In many jobs, a receptionist must be able to run record keeping, billing and payment, and data entry computer programs specific to the job. Many are also responsible for reading and sorting company emails, typing or transcribing letters, and managing online filing systems. A receptionist with strong computer skills and a comprehensive knowledge of all necessary computer programs can help improve the accuracy of company records and the efficiency of a company's day-to-day jobs.

Since the receptionist often serves as a conduit between all branches of a business, as well as the public, his or her role naturally requires excellent communication skills. Company employees may often find themselves stopping by the desk of the receptionist for information on a particular issue or customer, since he or she has direct contact with nearly all clients and company personnel. While it is important for a receptionist to serve as an accurate resource for information, it is also crucial to the role of a receptionist that he or she understands privacy policies and disclosure laws. Receptionists must be able to be discreet when they are asked about issues they cannot discuss, while still maintaining a friendly demeanor.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Practical Adult Insights. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

By Lostnfound — On Jan 14, 2015

@Grivusangel -- So true. Nothing, but *nothing* gets callers/customers irritated quicker than being bounced all over the building before they get to the person who can actually help them.

I know I'm in for an unpleasant conversation when the caller's first words are, "You're the fourth person I've talked to!" That's never a good way to start a call. I'm at a disadvantage the minute I pick up the phone, and if I have to transfer the person yet again, it's even worse. Usually what I do is tell the person I'll stay on the line until the other person answers, and then if they don't, I'll get their contact information and send the person an email to call the person I'm on the phone with.

By Grivusangel — On Jan 13, 2015

A good receptionist needs to have excellent listening skills, too, since people may come in and have no idea what they want or who they need to talk to. A good receptionist can listen to a person and help that person get to the person they need to see, even if they think they need to see someone else.

Good phone skills are also important, for the same reason. A good receptionist should have a pleasant phone voice, and use correct spoken grammar. Having someone answer a company phone who uses poor grammar does not create a favorable impression of a company!

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis


With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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