The case may be put for the dynamic record -breaking Sales Manager, the charismatic Young CEO or the inspirational Managing Partner but, in reality, when it comes to identifying who is the most important employee within your work environment you maybe don't need to look much further than the person who, for most of your Customers, is either the first person they hear on the telephone or the first person they meet when visiting your offices........yes, the Front of House Receptionist.

As Harvey Mackay the American businessman and author of bestselling book, "Swim with the Sharks", notably said, "You only get one chance to make a first impression, and yours may be in the hands of your receptionist."

Even with the huge advancement in technology over recent decades, it remains a key post for a significant number of organisations.

The Receptionist will invariably 'dabble in a little of everything' but this should not undermine the 3 key "Powers" and skills involved in this pivotal role:-

The Power of the "First Impression"

In business as in every day life, first impressions are hugely powerful influencers. The greeting, appearance, knowledge, conduct and general willingness to help, which is received from a receptionist, when you walk into the premises, can either impart a feel good factor or get your relationship with the organisation off on completely the wrong footing. That in itself can be terminal!


Also the way your first phone call is answered and dealt with is key. The ability to be warm, efficient and knowledgeable is important to the caller and can determine whether it is a business you wish to do business with or not.


The Power of  "Organisational Knowledge"

Whilst many employees experience of an Organisation can be related to the team or department in which they are based, the Receptionist needs a broad and extensive knowledge of the whole organisation to function effectively in the role as they relay news on general matters, absences, events, messages and meetings between employees in an organisation and between internal and external contacts. The attention to detail on this information is critical to ensure the organisation runs smoothly, eg employees within the organisation will require their receptionist to be an effective "gatekeeper" prepared to prevent persistent and unwelcome sales call being put through to a stressed executive in marketing trying to meet a tight deadline. At the same time the Receptionist needs to know the call which is urgent for the MD to receive, even though he's currently in a meeting, has to be put through when his whereabouts is discovered.

What, we as Customers are told by the Receptionist, our initial point of contact is critical in our decision-making so it is important the Receptionist is well equipped with accurate and timely information to share.


The Power of  "Multi-Tasking"

The phrase multi-tasking could have been invented for the modern-day F.O.H Receptionist as the role encompasses a variety of skills. As well as the multitude of meet and greet scenarios, which themselves can play out in  a variety of unexpected ways and manners, the Receptionist is frequently involved in a variety of other tasks. These will depend on the business of the receptionist and the organisation on that particular day.

Planning meeting room diaries, organising lunches and beverages, sorting the post, checking stationery levels, stocking interview areas and meeting rooms, liaising with a variety of suppliers and dealing with administrative work overspill can all be part of the Receptionist's day, dependent on the size of the organisation. All of these tasks, needing to be performed without impacting on the fundamentals of the key role as the business host and that first point of contact.


"Despite the advancement of technology and it's undoubted impact on the efficiency and accuracy of both telephony and business machinery, we believe the role of the Front of House Receptionist within the majority of businesses remains as significant, if not more significant, today than it was twenty  five years ago when I started the business." MD Lucy Walker explained. " They need to be able to  be organised,communicate fantastically, think on their feet, problem solve and know everything that is going on in the business. Consequently it is no surprise that Organisations see tremendous value in the Front of House role and the flexibility and value that employing the right individuals in these roles can offer them."



About the Author: Mark Woffenden

Mark Woffenden is a Director at Lucy Walker Recruitment and has an extensive knowledge of the issues and workings of the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester Commercial markets developed over the last 20 years in the Industry