Receptionists deal with most of the general customer service duties for a company or organization, as well as billing, scheduling and record-keeping. Depending on the setting, the company can have fast-paced periods and require multiple receptionists, or it may be steady and only demand the attention of one person. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, receptionists are employed in just about every industry.
Receptionists are typically stationed right by the front doors of a building, allowing them to communicate with people as soon as they walk in. The BLS notes this placement also enables them to play a security role, particularly in large corporations and government agencies, where they allow certain visitors access to areas beyond the waiting room. In other settings, they may answer questions about the facility or give directions to specific offices or departments.
A large portion of receptionists' days are spent dealing with clients in a variety of scenarios, from resolving complaints about unexpected wait times to calling and verifying the following day's appointments. ONet OnLine notes that receptionists' customer service activities involve talking on the phone and that they often deal with unpleasant or angry people. The job demands an interpersonal nature and communication skills, but it also requires the ability to remain calm under pressure.
Receptionists can have several different administrative duties depending on their employer, such as entering invoices, printing balance sheets, drafting documents and distributing memos. In schools, receptionists may be in charge of everything from attendance records to field trip permission slips. In health care facilities, they ensure each patient's medical records and insurance information are updated. Money exchanges can also take place with receptionists, who record payment information and distribute receipts or prepare insurance claim forms as necessary.
Receptionists take care of minor tasks from straightening up around the office and watering plants to gathering cash and checks for daily deposits. Additional tasks vary by the setting, but receptionists are often in charge of components like scheduling special programs and ordering office supplies. For example, receptionists at The Belleville Mennonite School keep track of funds provided from the state to be used towards purchasing textbooks and similar supplies.