12 Skills and Qualities You Need in a Good Receptionist


A receptionist serves as both the administrative backbone and the customer-facing image of your business, making it one of the most important roles in your organization.

Receptionists have a responsibility to provide great customer service in addition to multitasking and maintaining organization so that other staff members can stay on task and maintain the efficiency of the company.

With 80% of Americans saying that speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service are important for a positive customer experience, it’s crucial that you hire or outsource a receptionist that encompasses the proper receptionist skills and qualities to accommodate these needs. 

If you're not sure where to begin, keep reading for some of the top skills and qualities to consider when looking for a receptionist for your business. 

Top 6 receptionist skills 

A good receptionist must have excellent soft skills, the agility to manage various demands and fluctuating priorities, and the poise to handle high-stress circumstances. 

top skills of a good receptionist

A receptionist won't be able to provide the advantages you need to see unless they have the necessary skills and knowledge. So, which skills are most important? We'll go into the key qualifications and aptitudes of a competent receptionist below.

1. Communication skills

It should come as no surprise that being able to communicate effectively is one of the most important skills a receptionist can have, given that they deal with people on a daily basis.

Whether it be by phone, email, or in person, a receptionist engages in various types of communication with customers, clients, business partners, suppliers, vendors, and other parties.

Key Takeaway: A receptionist must sound professional, possess active listening abilities, establish relationships with clients, and be knowledgeable about every facet of your company in order to communicate effectively.

2. Technical skills

In today’s tech-driven world, receptionists must have good technical skills or they can struggle to integrate with your team. While basic office software skills like email and Excel are a given, it’s also important that a receptionist is familiar with other productivity software that your business uses regularly. 

Some examples of these include the following:

Scheduling software: From Calendly and Acuity Scheduling to all other scheduling apps in between, receptionists should understand the basics of how scheduling software works, including for reminders, callbacks, and follow-ups. 

CRM platform: Receptionists must understand the role of the CRM (customer relationship management), as well as the basic features and functions shared across platforms. 

Communication tools: Whether it’s platforms for project management, collaboration, or video conferencing, receptionists must possess exemplary skills and experience in various communication tools.

Time management apps: Being proficient in time tracking apps is important for excellent project management. Receptionists must know how to track time, invoice, and create reports.

Key Takeaway: To ensure a seamless integration with your company when hiring a receptionist, confirm that they are either familiar with the standard software your company employs or have the aptitude to quickly learn it.

3. Organization skills

With all of the phone contacts, filed documents, and calendar systems to manage, a good receptionist should have superior organization skills. Without them, the workplace would become chaotic and disorganized, which would create disruption across the whole company.

One of the main duties of a receptionist is to keep the workplace organized. For instance, lawyers rely greatly on a legal receptionist's organizational abilities since, without them, they would find it difficult to recall appointment bookings, client contact details, and court dates.

Key Takeaway: Look for a receptionist that is well organized and can keep track of all the important information your business needs to keep it running smoothly. 

4. Multitasking skills

Another essential skill every receptionist must possess is the capacity to multitask, especially when working in a fast-paced or hectic work environment. 

A receptionist must be able to manage many calls at once, be adaptable enough to change directions on the spur of the moment, and be able to switch from taking general inquiries to handling administrative tasks in a matter of seconds. A receptionist must recall the needs of each person separately in their mind, avoid neglecting anyone, and maintain composure under pressure.

Additionally, receptionists must be able to manage their own and others' time, including scheduling calls, appointments, and other tasks. They are responsible for assigning the highest priority to each task and giving it the appropriate amount of attention.

Key Takeaway: Make sure the receptionist you hire has the capacity to handle several responsibilities concurrently without becoming confused or overburdened. This will guarantee that your company keeps operating efficiently, that internal teams are structured, and that customers are satisfied.

5. Problem-solving skills

From managing double-booked appointments to dealing with upset clients, receptionists must be able to accurately and swiftly solve problems.

For example, there will occasionally be callers or angry customers who are dissatisfied with the service or product from your business. In this situation, the receptionist must maintain composure while swiftly coming up with a solution that actively solves the main reason for your customer’s dissatisfaction. 

Potential solutions include finding a different approach to the issue, owning up to errors, or transferring the call to the department that can handle it more effectively.

Key Takeaway: Make sure your receptionist is able to manage issues with ease, takes initiative, and can make decisions quickly and accurately. 

6. Customer service skills

Since a customer's first point of contact with your business is typically a receptionist, they must be extremely adept at providing excellent customer service.

The receptionist represents the entire business. An unpleasant interaction with a receptionist could cause a client or customer to have a negative view of your organization, which could potentially result in bad reviews and less business. 

Key Takeaway: A good receptionist is pleasant, accommodating, and attentive, and should be able to give each person they speak with the proper information and responses. 

Top 6 receptionist qualities 

A successful receptionist needs to have the appropriate skills, but it's important to remember that skills are aptitudes or expertise that can be learned through practice. On the other hand, the ideal qualities are something more innate, character features, but which can be cultivated and possibly developed. 

top qualities of a good receptionist

Check out these top six qualities you should look for in a receptionist. 

7. Adaptability

The one thing that receptionists can rely on is that each day will be different. Although variety may be the spice of life to some people, those who are not adaptable may find the ups and downs to be quite difficult.

Depending on the company, receptionist responsibilities may include buying, marketing, overseeing vendor accounts, and even sales outreach. They might also be asked to help with HR tasks like gathering resumes and cover letters and setting up interviews.

Key Takeaway: A receptionist must be able to successfully do a number of responsibilities each and every day in order to succeed.

8. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is essential in the workplace, but especially for those in the role of a receptionist. People that are emotionally intelligent have empathy, are able to control their own emotions, and can adapt to the emotions of others. 

The person on the other end of the phone will not always be happy when a receptionist answers their call, so the receptionist needs to know how to handle that situation. 

Key Takeaway: Even when the customers or clients aren't the most pleasant, a receptionist with high emotional intelligence will extend a friendly greeting and attempt to build rapport with that person instead of letting their emotions get the better of them.

9. Positive attitude

An individual's attitude will always be apparent, so it's imperative that your receptionist has a positive one. This will have an impact on how they react in various situations, from pleasant to stressful and everything in between. 

Being positive is a leadership quality, and a good receptionist should exhibit it as well. This will not only have a positive impact on your customers, but your entire team as well. 

Key Takeaway: Positivity is contagious, and is something that you want your receptionist, the public face of your business, to possess. 

10. Confidence

Another quality essential to a good receptionist is confidence. They must have confidence in the information they relay to clients and internal team members as well as confidence in themselves. 

While receptionists work as part of a team, they must be able to operate independently when required. 

Key Takeaway: A good receptionist is proactive and can take charge, having the confidence to make important decisions without needing to seek guidance from higher-ups.

11. Professionalism

As the first person a customer or client interacts with, a receptionist is the first impression of your company. With that being said, they should embody your company’s ideals by the way they behave and interact with each person. 

Key Takeaway: A good receptionist should respond to each call and message accurately, keep composure in stressful situations, and provide exceptional customer service with each interaction. 

12. Dependability

Since the entire company relies on the receptionist’s administrative tasks, dependability is a crucial receptionist quality. This might take the shape of being trustworthy, always being ready to take each and every call, handling interactions with business values top of mind, and promptly returning calls and messages. 

A similar idea is consistency. Following the same procedure can be quite helpful for a receptionist in maintaining correct records and conveying messages to everyone. It keeps things moving along in the company since you can avoid problems with conflicting signals and confusion, or clients being forgotten about.

Key Takeaway: The ideal receptionist will make sure that there is uniformity throughout the office and that the methods you have put in place are consistently used correctly. It's important to have that sense of dependability in your receptionist. 

Outsource Smith.ai virtual receptionists

Given this wide variety of significant responsibilities, search for a receptionist who can contribute right away, has a history of taking the initiative, is open to working with others, and possesses the optimal combination of experience, skill, and qualities.

With Smith.ai virtual receptionists, you can outsource this role to qualified professionals who maintain a personal touch but don't come with the overheads of in-house staff.

Our receptionists can answer all your calls and messages around the clock, effectively manage and book appointments, offer lead qualification and client intake with full CRM integration, and more.

Connect with us today and let Smith.ai expert virtual receptionists handle calls, appointments, and customer concerns so you can focus on what matters most. 


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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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