The 10 Most Important Responsibilities for Your Receptionist

Sean Lund-Brown

Part of hiring people for your business is understanding their roles and responsibilities. When everyone does their part, your company will work like a well-oiled machine, and you’ll have less to manage on a day-to-day basis yourself. Of all the roles that could help your company, a receptionist is perhaps among the most important. This is the person (or persons) who will act as the face of your company and create that lasting first impression with your audience. 

They’re also the ones who will be on the front lines of communications, day in and day out, so you’ll want to make sure that you have people who are capable of getting the job done correctly. Although a receptionist can do many different things and fill a variety of roles, there are some responsibilities and tasks that are essential, regardless of the company or industry. 

You might consider some elements more important than others, but the list below is in no particular order. We’ve just collected 10 of the responsibilities that every business needs to ensure their receptionist is handling (and handling properly), to help you gauge whether you are on the right track with the solutions that you have in place. Receptionists have been around for a long time, but even in today’s modern business, they’re still one of the most essential (and often most taken-for-granted) roles in any organization.

Today’s receptionist does a lot more than just answer phones. They are essentially a Jack-of-all-trades, if you will, for your business. They can intercept phone calls, route calls and messages, handle general inquiries, schedule meetings and appointments, etc.—the list of what a receptionist “can’t” or perhaps “shouldn’t” be handling is far shorter. Granted, your business will have its own needs to consider, but there is a fair chance that you’ll find the responsibilities listed here just as important as we do. 

A receptionist is a dynamic addition when you do it correctly. In case you’re still trying to sell yourself on the idea of hiring or outsourcing help, the list below will help increase the “pros” of this investment, no matter what type of business you have. 


In-house versus virtual receptionists


Before you do anything, you have to decide how you’re going to source your receptionist. You can get similar services and solutions no matter how you hire, but the exact details may differ. There’s also the consideration as to whether you need in-house help, as well as whether you can afford the investment. Take the time to consider:

  • What you expect from a receptionist or virtual receptionist service
  • What kind of duties you anticipate they will handle 
  • Whether you need a full-time employee 
  • If hiring remote or outsourcing might be more cost-effective
  • How much time you have to manage another person or team 
  • What you can actually get for your money

That last one will require you to do your homework, of course, and learn all about your options before you get started. If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to managing someone or hiring in-house isn’t on your agenda, remember that outsourcing is an alternative that offers a lot of different answers for all the things that your business needs. 

Speaking of the things that your business needs, while you’re reviewing the list below, consider how many ways you can put a receptionist to work. From filing paperwork and managing calls to organizing meetings, managing the books, and so much more, there’s a lot you stand to gain when you hire the right person for the job. 


The 10 most valuable ways to use your receptionist(s)


1. Answering and routing phone calls 

Of course, the primary job of most receptionists is to answer phone calls, as well as to route them accordingly, and so forth. Managing communications on the front lines is the biggest priority for most receptionists, as it should be. You have other things on your plate that need your attention. Plus, while automated systems are nice, your callers will always appreciate it when a live person answers the phone instead. 

Some solopreneurs and SMBs use their mobile devices for business or don’t have a proper business phone system in place, so they think they don’t need someone to field the calls. The fact of the matter is that every business can benefit from having someone on the front lines to field calls and make sure that they get to the right place. And when you choose the right receptionist, it doesn’t matter what type of phone solutions you use because they’ll fit right in. 


2. Greeting visitors and clients (physically)

If you hire someone in-house, they’ll also be responsible for creating a good first impression in person by greeting visitors, clients, customers, vendors, etc. Making sure that people feel welcome in your business and that they get the help they need is their primary goal. If you have a physical business, an in-house receptionist is a great way to make people feel valued and give them that personal connection that they crave. They can also act as a buffer to ensure that the right people end up in the right places, depending on why they’re there. 


3. Scheduling and schedule management

Sure, you might have a dynamic digital scheduling management tool in your pocket—but do you have time to check it, add appointments to it, make those appointments, follow up—you see where we’re going. A receptionist that can manage your schedule, take care of scheduling appointments, and help you with other aspects of running your business will make all the difference. They’ll also act as a failsafe so that you never miss a meeting or customer, no matter what. They can even inform others of schedules, appointments, etc. 


4. Maintaining the physical and/or virtual office

Logistics and organization start with the office itself. Having a well-organized space, virtually or physically, can make all the difference. A receptionist can ensure that your office is always in order, files are properly stored, and that everything is running like a well-oiled machine. They can handle all kinds of day-to-day tasks. They will also ensure that your business offers a professional, yet approachable, image at all times. 

Even if you have a virtual or remote receptionist, they can do a lot to manage and organize your “office”, as it were. They can help by organizing your email, managing your social media, keeping client files in order, tracking payments, etc. Whatever you need to be monitored and managed, they can handle it. 


5. Mailing, shipping, etc. 

Do you have time to stop at the FedEx store to ship some items or go to the Post Office to pick up items that were too big for your mailbox? What about flyers, promotional mailers, bills, reminders, and so forth? This is all a bunch of detail work that doesn’t require your attention, and it shouldn’t be your responsibility. Instead of spending your valuable time dealing with the mail, why not let your receptionist handle it? Everything will get done promptly and you won’t have to spend your own time doing it. 

Who’s signing for packages while you’re in meetings? Can you really wait another day for that important delivery if you miss your delivery person? In the world of business, time matters, and sooner is always better. With a receptionist, you’ll know that there is always someone to receive packages, send mail, and so forth. 


6. Take and deliver messages

Instead of a voicemail recording, a potentially forgettable text, or a well-intentioned but not quite direct email, having a receptionist gives your callers the chance to have a message taken personally and assured that it will be properly delivered and not overlooked or forgotten. If you have an after-hours receptionist, they can even take calls and messages after hours and ensure that they reach you in a timely fashion. For example, general inquiries might go to your desk for Monday morning, but an urgent matter might cause them to reach out right away so that you can return the call and take care of business. Automated systems can’t use this kind of discretion. 


7. Bookkeeping and/or accounting duties 

Although they might not be a full-on CPA, your receptionist can often handle basic bookkeeping and finance tasks, such as writing or depositing checks, paying bills, receiving payments from vendors, and so forth. Again, it takes the little tedious tasks off your desk but ensures they still get done promptly. You can have them balance the petty cash in the office, handle travel expenses, set up various events or travel arrangements, and so forth. Until or unless you need an accountant or bookkeeper, this can handle all of the little financial details so that you can focus on other matters. 

Of course, bear in mind that at some point, you will need to enlist the assistance of a dedicated financial professional. Your receptionist shouldn’t be filing your business taxes or trying to figure out the cost of employee benefits for the year—that’s what an accountant is for. You can use a receptionist for basic bookkeeping and financial duties, but there is a limit here. 


8. Clerical tasks

Copies? Faxes? Collating presentations? Making sure that email from your client gets filed in their project folder? These are all little tasks that add up to a lot more free time for you when you’ve got someone else on the job. There’s nothing too big or too small for a receptionist to handle here, and it can save you a lot of time and help avoid distractions. If you’re too busy trying to fax documents or making sure that you have things in order for your meeting tomorrow, you’re going to miss out on important business today. Leave it to your receptionist and consider it done. 


9. Organization and preparation

Receptionists specialize in organizing and preparing things. They can set up and organize meetings and seminars, prepare for events and training sessions, meetings, appointments, and other events. Their skills and abilities will extend to all areas of your business: clerical, secretarial, financial, office-related, customer/client/vendor issues, and so forth. You can focus on the meat of these things and less on the details knowing that you have someone managing all the behind-the-scenes stuff while you’re running your business. 


10. Manage email, live chat, and other digital communications

Of course, in today’s business world, you can’t have a receptionist that isn’t capable of managing your digital communications, too. In fact, many companies hire a receptionist or receptionist service just for these things because they’ve already got enough on their plate. In any case, you need to make sure that you get someone on the job that can handle social media messages, SMS messages, the live chat feature on your website, and every other communication channel that your business uses. Often, this requires investing in a virtual receptionist service or something more than just hiring an individual receptionist for your business. 


Get it all handled with less hassle when you partner with Smith.ai 


Receptionists can make or break that first impression. They can even be the critical resource for your front office and communications, and when you don’t have the right people in place, that can spell disaster. Save yourself from disaster and take your receptionist solution to the next level when you choose to partner with Smith.ai instead. Our virtual receptionists offer 24/7 support for dedicated admin and communications solutions, and everyone gets a scalable, customized plan for managing it all, too. 

You can count on our 24/7 virtual receptionists for after-hours phone answering, live chat support, SMS and Facebook message answering, scheduling and lead intake, payment collection, and so much more. Just need a little temporary help? Ask about our temporary receptionist services, too. 

If you want to learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss how the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can help your business with admin, communications, and so much more. You will also find us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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