5 Skills & Qualities Every Receptionist Should Have

Whether they’re part of a virtual receptionist service or an in-person team, your receptionist is as vital as your company’s logo or location: in other words, they’re often the first encounter your clients or potential clients will have with your business. Making an outstanding impression at this initial stage can make a difference in whether the client pursues business with you or takes their needs elsewhere.

But do you know what skills your receptionist or virtual receptionist service needs to be successful on your behalf? 

Before you start interviewing for that extra office support, it can help to learn what traits you should prioritize in someone who will frequently be the face (and even more often, voice) of your business. This article will call out five receptionist skills and qualities to look for, so you can be certain that the receptionist representing your business will be up to the task.

#1 Social Adaptability

In such a highly visible position, someone who can effectively work with a diverse array of people and personalities is certainly a treasure. Someone who is adept at handling many different social situations may have experience with:

  • Managing personalities – Perceptive receptionists can adjust their interaction style to defuse a challenging encounter or calm a stressful situation, making each experience as pleasant as possible. 
  • Patience – When on the phone, getting to the heart of a customer’s need isn’t always straightforward. In addition, there could be a language barrier or a volume issue. It’s times like these that patience can be a real asset. A receptionist should be able to evaluate and approach the situation with the calmness and empathy it requires. 
  • Empathy New potential clients want reassurance and comfort that they arrived at the right place and can trust your services. When a receptionist exhibits empathy in the first encounter, it allows them to build trust with the client on your behalf and ensures a smoother transition when they decide to pursue your services. Some may argue that empathy is the foundation of creating exceptional customer experience and establishing a tone for future interactions. 
  • Making meaningful connections – While your business is still a business, showing your customers the people at the heart of it can create a sense of community and boost customer loyalty to boot. When your receptionist makes the effort to create meaningful connections with customers that call in, those clients will feel stronger ties to your business—making them more likely to return or refer you to their friends and family. 
  • Being a people person – Given that a receptionist often spends most of their working hours communicating with people, it’s safe to say that they’ll do a better job if they genuinely enjoy the work they do. Receptionists who thrive when making conversation are sure to transfer that positive energy to your customers, too.

When all is said and done, social adaptability is the milestone to guaranteeing customer satisfaction when clients experience and interact with your business, especially for the first time.

#2 Professionalism

Professionalism is a quality you’ll notice in receptionists who take their work seriously and take pride in upholding a business’ core values. A professional demeanor is highly noticeable to clients if they have it—and even more so if they don’t. Look for these qualities:

  • Punctuality – Anyone who works in an office knows that being on time shows respect for everyone else’s time as well. Receptionists have an extra responsibility in this area since they are often tasked with minimizing the wait time a client must face before they can be helped.
  • Reliability – Being punctual is a part of being dependable. This means being on time, productive, and present–a receptionist who never lets the phone ring to voicemail.
  • Strong work ethic – You want someone who will have your company’s best interests in mind. Work ethics can apply to many different parts of a receptionist’s job, from treating each customer with care to saving money by not being wasteful with resources.
  • Organizational skills – In a busy office organization is a key skill for any receptionist. And this doesn’t just apply to filing paperwork. An organized receptionist should know how to prioritize tasks, provide customers with clear and consistent information, and maintain a smooth workflow as they’re routing clients to the right department or information.

#3 A Positive Disposition

A receptionist is your caller’s first association with your company—and first impressions can be lasting impressions. According to survey data, 93% of participants who experienced positive customer service were likely to return to that business again.1 

As such, you want the representative greeting your guests and answering your phone to do so with a smile—even through the phone. A positive attitude is composed of several qualities. What should top the list? 

  • Humility – Someone with a lack of arrogance and a healthy slice of humility will take responsibility for unforeseen snafus and err on the side of integrity when given the opportunity.
  • General positive outlook – A person who views life’s circumstances through a rosy lens will usually find the good in most situations. This receptionist will answer your calls with a lilt in their voice and a cheery disposition, and hopefully spread some of that positivity to your callers.
  • Eagerness to learn – One trait of a positive attitude is showing enthusiasm when asked to work on a new skill or try a different way of doing a familiar task. Find out how open your candidate is to learning new things.

#4 Excellent Communication

Skillful communication instincts are crucial for receptionists. Engaging in active listening and verifying that the message was understood properly will ensure that names won’t be misspelled and phone numbers won’t be incorrectly transposed.2 However, it can also ensure that clients’ needs are accurately assessed and that they’re provided with the correct information on the first attempt.

Communication skills can be broken down into two categories:

  • Written – A receptionist should have legible writing and error-free typing for properly conveyed messages.
  • Verbal – Clear enunciation and proper language skills for phone conversations and in-person interactions are must-haves for a receptionist.3 You may also want to consider whether a bilingual receptionist would be a benefit to your organization’s clients.

#5 Stellar Technical Skills

Of course, proficiency in carrying out technical aspects of a support position is key—especially if the receptionist will be responsible for engaging with software systems on a daily basis or helping clients to troubleshoot your products.4 But technical savvy can go a long way in basic interactions, too. Consider how the following can help:

  • Multi-tasking talent – Looking up a phone number, noting when a meeting is starting, and answering a call are all things that a receptionist might be doing at the same time. Receptionists are trained to focus on each thing simultaneously and not drop a plate. (People really should buy tickets to this—it’s amazing to watch.) 
  • Flexibility – Juggling different clients, schedules, supervisors, and personalities is a receptionist’s superpower.  Doing all this with enthusiasm and positivity is something that a receptionist is wise to grasp early on. Other “above and beyond” flexibility might include keeping a level head in urgent situations and finding solutions to unexpected problems.
  • Hardware and software expertise – Depending on the services or products your company offers, training in software platform technologies, different languages, different systems, and multiple processes could also be technical skills to look for.
  • Typing proficiency – This skill is often overlooked and undervalued, but it’s a critical skill for receptionists to have. A receptionist should be able to quickly type up detailed notes about conversations with clients, often while they’re still on the phone. This skill also enables them to pass on the correct information to your business, relay the customer’s needs accurately, and schedule appointments to keep your business running smoothly. 

Make an Exceptional First Impression with Abby Connect

If you’re seeking a skilled receptionist service, whether it be a law firm answering service or a small business answering service to support your business, it may be challenging to know where to start. Keeping the above skills and qualities in mind can help you streamline your search. But you also want to find a trustworthy company that can simplify the process, present worry-free solutions and offers uncomplicated pricing packages.

Abby Connect is a team of virtual-reception experts with talented personnel ready to assist with your front-desk reception coverage. 

Don’t hesitate to call on us to solve your communication management needs for virtual reception and 24-hour web chat services.



  1. HubSpot. The Hard Truth About Acquisition Costs (and How Your Customers Can Save You). https://blog.hubspot.com/service/customer-acquisition-study
  2. PackageX, Inc. 18 Receptionist Skills That Will Make Your Resume Stand Out. https://packagex.io/blog/best-receptionist-skills
  3. Indeed. 5 Top Receptionist Skills. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/receptionist-skills
  4. Robert Half. Ready to Hire a Receptionist? Search for These 6 Attributes. https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/evaluating-job-candidates/6-attributes-to-look-for-in-a-great-receptionist

Written by

Racquel Pankau

Racquel Pankau

Racquel's journey began as one of the first Abby receptionists, the most important role at Abby Connect. After 12 years, Racquel has helped grow the company by performing various roles from IT support to hiring, training, staff development, and culture. Today, she is the Senior Learning and Development Specialist as an educational content writer and speaker for Abby Connect.