8 Reasons Why You Need a Receptionist to Answer the Phone


When you think of a receptionist, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s Pam Beasley from “The Office,” or perhaps you imagine a call center full of virtual receptionists

As a small business owner, you might think you can squeeze by without a receptionist answering phones to save money, or even opt for doing it yourself. However, this role entails much more than managing telephone calls, and not having a receptionist on the team may do more harm than good for a business. 

Many companies report that receptionists handle 20 to 40 calls daily, sometimes hundreds for larger businesses. If you don’t have a receptionist answering that call volume, who is? Could their time be better spent elsewhere?

In this article, we’ll cover the importance of a receptionist and the options for receptionist phone services, so you can decide whether your business should hire a receptionist or not.

what to look for in a receptionist

What is a receptionist and why is having a receptionist important?

A receptionist is the first person a customer or lead interacts with upon entering or calling a business, making them responsible for any first impressions of the company. For this reason, a good receptionist should have excellent communication skills, be able to resolve conflicts, and show empathy. The duties of a receptionist include:

Even for small businesses, having a receptionist on the team is advisable. A receptionist's role is vital to a business's success because their job involves interacting with clients. For a brief period, you may be able to get by having team members take on extra tasks. 

However, this practice isn't worthwhile in the long haul. Team members may become dissatisfied doing tasks outside of their specific roles. Plus, taking their time away from the tasks they excel at may also hurt your business financially. For example, if you have salespeople handling all incoming calls, they spend less time bringing in new clients.

Businesses should have clearly defined roles, particularly in today's workplace. If you're still on the fence about whether or not your small business needs a receptionist, continue reading for more reasons to add a receptionist to your team.

8 reasons to hire a receptionist

1. Personalize every call

Personal connections are the basis of good client relationships — fundamental to both retaining current clients and acquiring new ones. Making a connection is the first step in building rapport with clients that pays off long-term.

Receptionists can prioritize personalizing every call because they actually have the time to do so. Plus, because they interact with all customers, they get to know everyone — as a business owner, you might not have the time to do this, but it's important that someone in the company does. When a business personalizes communication, the customer leaves feeling valued and cared for.

A simple way to personalize communication is by addressing the individual by name. Try active listening and mirroring the tone and body language of the customer as well. Don't be afraid to use a receptionist phone script or email template, so long as you tailor it to the individual and their situation.

2. Build a professional image

Professionalism in the workplace centers around how a business carries itself — from its behaviors, attitudes, and conduct. These aspects contribute to building a business's reputation of respect and expertise. 

Receptionists help convey professionalism through their communication with customers. To achieve professional business telephone etiquette, receptionists should answer calls promptly and with an appropriate greeting.

A professional image is equally important for businesses with physical and virtual offices alike.

3. Address client inquiries

If you're unable to answer every inbound call you receive, then you aren't able to address all client and lead inquiries when they call. Someone needs to, though; otherwise, you risk hurting your business's reputation. 

A properly trained receptionist can answer caller questions to avoid disrupting other employees. Like any company employee, your receptionist should become an expert in your product or service and be able to explain it confidently when a lead calls for information. Beyond this, a receptionist should also have the knowledge and resources to address back-end client inquiries, like the status of a bill or shipment.

4. Defuse callers’ issues or complaints

Not all client interactions will be pleasant. Your company is bound to experience a client who is unhappy with your service or product at some point. With expert-level communication skills, a receptionist can professionally de-escalate such scenarios with angry or upset callers or visitors by listening to their concerns and providing a realistic solution.

5. Build rapport with customers

Rapport is the relationship between a client and a business. Trust and solid communication aid in building personal connections. Prioritizing rapport building shows customers you care about them and that their needs are important.

Beyond personalizing communication, try building rapport with clients by:

  • Finding common ground
  • Creating shared experiences
  • Showing compassion
  • Asking open-ended questions
  • Prioritizing their needs
  • Referencing prior communication and personal stories

6. Never miss a sales or prospect call

Voicemails are slowly becoming a thing of the past. About 80% of callers hang up before leaving voicemails. Plus, the fastest business to answer a call earns the business. You may miss out on sales or prospect opportunities without a dedicated receptionist. 

When your team is in meetings, traveling, or working through their daily tasks, a receptionist is available to take any calls that come in. Even if the receptionist cannot answer the caller's specific question, they can take a message to pass on to the appropriate team member.

7. Book appointments on your calendar

As a busy small business owner, you likely have daily mundane tasks on your plate that could be offloaded by hiring a receptionist. One example of this is calendar management.

Part of a receptionist's job is to schedule and confirm customer appointments. They can also help manage your calendar. If your days are hectic and jumbled with back-to-back meetings and non-work-related appointments, a receptionist can help better manage your calendar by rescheduling and ensuring you have time to breathe throughout your day.

virtual receptionists vs. in-house receptionist

8. Improve staff productivity with virtual receptionists

By this point, you may have decided your small business does need a receptionist. However, if you can't swing another full-time salary, virtual receptionists or call answering service may be a better option. A virtual phone receptionists cost less per year than the average full-time receptionist costs per month.

Virtual receptionists can perform all the tasks that a typical on-site receptionist can do but for flexible pricing. An outsourced service may be available when an in-house representative is not, since some virtual receptionists offer after-hours answering services

Additionally, you may find quality tech-focused virtual receptionists that provide services beyond phone answering. These offerings range from spam blocking, call recording and transcription, software integrations, client dashboarding, and more.

In short, the importance of a receptionist comes down to two main benefits — fostering client relationships and optimizing other employees' time. Without one, you may be losing out on leads with missed calls. But an in-house receptionist isn't your only option, and that might not be what's best for your business. 

Smith.ai offers receptionist phone services that help you prioritize positive client relationships, maintain a professional image, manage appointments, and more. Book a meeting with Smith.ai today to learn more about how a virtual receptionist service could benefit your business.

Sources: Positive Psychology  

Business Education
Virtual Receptionists
24/7 Call Answering
After-Hours Answering
Written by Maddy Martin

Maddy Martin is Smith.ai's SVP of Growth. Over the last 15 years, Maddy has built her expertise and reputation in small-business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, partnerships, and SEO.

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