It’s difficult to imagine an industry or scenario where excellent customer service is not a priority. Whether someone is visiting a medical practice, checking in at a hotel, or just visiting a business (for any number of reasons), they expect to feel not only welcomed but also valued. In most situations, their first point of contact is going to be the front desk—and how they are greeted and assisted lets them know a lot about how much they’re valued.

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the roles and responsibilities of front desk agents and receptionists and explore a third option—a virtual receptionist—as well. Let’s start simply, by defining a few key terms.

  • Front Desk Agent | Often found in hotels, front desk agent job responsibilities primarily center around greeting customers in a timely, friendly, and professional manner. They may also set or confirm reservations, collect payments, provide general information, or handle various requests as they arise.
  • Front Desk Receptionist | Front desk receptionists are commonly found in various professional settings, but a majority (58%, according to Zippia) work in the healthcare or hospitality industries. In addition to greeting visitors and answering or forwarding incoming calls, they can also schedule or confirm appointments, help visitors find their way around the office, receive and sort mail, and so on.
  • Virtual Receptionist | A virtual front desk receptionist shares the same front desk receptionist duties and responsibilities listed above, with one notable difference: a virtual receptionist does not work within the physical office environment. Instead, they provide their services remotely, while still delivering consistent, high-quality customer or visitor experiences and possessing industry-specific knowledge. 

So what are the duties of a front desk agent? And more simply, what is a front desk representative or receptionist in general? Let’s explore the ins and outs of front desk receptionists and their similarities and differences to a front desk agent or virtual receptionist.

What Are the Three Duties of a Receptionist

Employing a receptionist means more than just taking calls and extending a warm greeting to clients. Instead, receptionists focus on fostering an atmosphere where each customer interaction gets immediate attention and helps with the overall operations of the company. Let’s examine three duties of a receptionist that make up a receptionist’s job. By breaking it down, it’s easy to see that these responsibilities highlight the value of providing exceptional customer service, being well-organized, and having the ability to represent a company professionally. 

While a receptionist’s official duties—whether in-person or virtual—vary by industry, their general responsibilities often include…

  • Receiving and Greeting Callers | When callers or visitors are greeted by an empathetic and professional receptionist, it sets a great tone and lets them know they’re valued. Everyone who contacts the office is a human being, after all, and for many the way they are greeted can make a big difference in how they feel about the business or organization.

    Whether a receptionist is working in-person or virtually, the point made above, about receiving and greeting visitors, applies just the same. A receptionist will also be responsible for ensuring all calls are answered, understanding what the caller needs, and either providing information or routing/forwarding their call as needed.

  • Organizing Meetings or Appointments | Especially in larger operations, keeping everyone’s calendars coordinated is a vital responsibility that often lands on receptionists’ shoulders. They can help identify the best times to meet, schedule rooms or coordinate virtual meetings, manage invitations, send reminders, and so on. Receptionists are also sometimes tasked with handling inbound emails and forwarding them to the proper recipients.
  • Representing Your Business and Creating a Great First Impression | Whether a person visits the office or calls the front desk, the receptionist serves as the first point of contact. The best receptionists will handle each interaction with warmth, empathy, and professionalism.

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What Are the Most Important Front Desk Receptionist Skills?

Front desk receptionists’ expertise encompasses many areas, and is equally important in ensuring that a visitor or any caller feels valued, understood and well supported. Of course, receptionists have a lot of skills that are essential to helping customers. All of these skill sets—from attention to detail and bilingualism to communication, trust, flexibility, and technical skills—define a receptionist’s ability to effectively represent your business. 

When evaluating front desk receptionist candidates (including virtual options, if applicable), the most important and impactful receptionist skills and qualities include…

  • Attention to Detail | Front desk receptionists need to know an organization inside and out. This doesn’t necessarily mean they know every detail off the top of their head, though. Part of what makes a receptionist effective is being resourceful and knowing where to turn for up-to-date and accurate information. 
  • Bilingualism | If the role of a front desk receptionist is to make visitors feel valued and welcomed, it’s important to consider accommodating multiple languages. That way, every customer or visitor can feel comfortable working with and trusting the staff.
  • Communication Skills | When a receptionist has excellent communication skills, they’re able to quickly understand customers’ needs and provide helpful information in response. 
  • Dependability | The best receptionists are consistent and reliable, committed to treating each interaction with the same level of courtesy and professionalism.
  • Resilience | A front desk receptionist never knows whether the next visitor or caller is going to be friendly, hostile, or somewhere in between. Even in the face of stressful situations, the best front desk receptionists are able to relate to the customer or caller, make them feel valued, and de-escalate tense situations. 
  • Technical Knowledge Skills | When a receptionist understands the organization and industry they’re working in, they are much better prepared to handle a wide range of situations. For example, while a medical receptionist doesn’t need to hold a medical degree, they should be able to answer basic questions and provide relevant resources.

The team at Berkshire Receptionists receives industry-specific training that empowers them to seamlessly become a vital extension of your organization by providing 24/7 live virtual receptionist services.

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What Is the Most Important Skill That Is Required of a Receptionist?

All things considered, empathy is the most fundamental skill required of a receptionist, whether in-house or virtual. Almost everything a front desk agent or receptionist does requires a certain amount of empathy, especially when it comes to understanding callers’ needs, relating, communicating clearly, and providing pleasant and professional service. 

This particular skill is noteworthy because it enables receptionists to truly understand and handle the needs and feelings of every customer they interact with. In general, empathy involves actively listening to and establishing a rapport with customers and guests to make sure that they have a positive first impression of the business and so they feel highly valued. Not only does this mean they feel cared for, but this approach often leads to more customer loyalty and retention.

What Is the Relationship Between Receptionist and Customer Service?

At the heart of it, a receptionist is the cornerstone of a business’s customer service strategy. That’s because receptionists—whether they are virtual or in person—play a critical role in making first impressions, as they are frequently the initial point of contact for customers or guests. As a professional representative of your business, this approach to the customer experience leads to better customer interactions and higher quality service. But what connects a receptionist and customer service?

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Receptionists are essentially front-line customer service agents and reflect your business’s commitment to a valuable and helpful experience—not to mention overall respect for your customers. Whether it’s a warm greeting, efficiently handling questions, or an empathetic understanding of customer needs, these moments are the foundation for the customer service experience. After all, receptionists are typically the first person a customer interacts with and without a professional image, they might get the wrong impression of your business.

For virtual receptionists, this role is even more pronounced. As an example of excellent customer service, receptionists offer a unique blend of convenience, professionalism, and 24/7 availability. Although they are not physically in the office, customers can rest assured that their calls and concerns will be handled with the utmost care—and confidentiality in industries like healthcare and law.

So would a receptionist be considered customer service? Overall, the level of support a virtual receptionist provides gives businesses like yours the opportunity to provide the best customer service for all of your customers—no matter the time of day. They are not just the face or voice of the business but also key players in ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. By combining traditional receptionist duties with modern virtual capabilities, businesses can elevate their customer service to new heights.

Can a Virtual Receptionist Provide the Same Level of Service and Support as an In-Person Receptionist?

Short answer: Absolutely! In fact, not only can a virtual receptionist do as much (and just as well) as in-person front desk staff, virtual receptionists also provide additional benefits, such as helping an organization to…

  • Save Time and Money | Rather than paying the salary and benefits of one or more in-house receptionists, opting for a virtual receptionist can amount to considerable savings. Rather than a salary, many virtual receptionist service providers will instead charge based on usage. With Berkshire Receptionists, you don’t even have to sign a long-term contract!
  • Elevate Their Customer Service Experience | By using virtual receptionist services rather than an in-house team of receptionists, an organization can provide 24/7 availability. Especially in industries like healthcare where urgent situations can arise at any hour of the day, a virtual receptionist ensures that someone will be there when they’re needed most. 
  • Leverage Industry-Specific Knowledge and Training | When you partner with a provider like Berkshire Receptionists, you can trust that callers and visitors will be greeted and assisted in a consistently professional and knowledgeable manner. (We currently specialize in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.) In most cases, callers won’t even realize they’re not speaking to in-house personnel!

Answer the Call with Berkshire Receptionists 

At Berkshire Receptionists, we’re ready to become a part of your team, get to know your business, and provide empathetic live virtual receptionist services. Whether your office is open or customers call in after-hours, our agents are available 24/7, so there will always be a friendly, understanding, and professional voice to greet callers and help your business develop a reputation for great service. 

Ready to get started? Drop us a line, schedule a meeting, or get started with our easy self sign up today!