Out of all the people in your company, the person who answers the phone or greets your potential clients or customers is arguably the most critical. It’s this person that typically creates the first impression of your business. To be really successful, they need more than just great technical skills and experience. They also need the right personality, or they could end up unintentionally representing the company differently than you intended — perhaps even negatively.

How personality translates to effectiveness 

A good front desk or receptionist needs to be cheerful and able to smile while with customers to ensure the right tone comes through. It’s this tone that tells people that your team is relatable, friendly and that the rest of the experience will be enjoyable. If they’re not smiling when communicating with a client, this needs to be corrected. It will come through even if they’re talking on the phone. 

On top of a great smile and happy tone, the person you’ve got working reception also needs to understand how important word choices are. Specific words can convey quite a bit to the person on the other end. The more sensitive the front desk professional is to that, the more likely it is that they’ll avoid accidentally offending anybody. And if they hit on the right buzzwords at the right time, it can even get customers more excited about working with you. 

Your front desk employee also needs to be able to convey excitement and confidence about the business so that it seems important and trustworthy. This includes getting across that others on the team are knowledgeable or great to work with. One easy tip here is to have your receptionist come up with some benefit statements. These are just truthful scripts that communicate the positive points the customer can expect. A simple example might be “When you arrive, you’ll be seeing Sally who always does such a fantastic job — I love her energy.” Memorizing a few of these benefit statements can help in the beginning. But eventually, if your front desk person really is heartfelt about the team and business, then they should be able to toss them out off the cuff, too.

Lastly, the person answering your phone needs to understand that they should have control of the conversation and that they can’t just be info storage containers. If it’s the customer who’s asking all the questions, and if all your agent is saying is “yes” or “no,” then it’s incredibly boring. Plus, the agent isn’t able to direct the customer to other options, benefits or ideas, which can undersell your company in a big way. The conversation should always be two-way, and the agent has to feel comfortable being in the driver’s seat. Remember, the person asking the questions is who’s really in control of the conversation.

But let’s say the person you’ve got on the phones doesn’t have these characteristics. What if they’re totally focused only on getting results, the bottom line? Or what if they spend so much time being sociable that they’re not efficient and keep others waiting? Or maybe they’re so obsessed with data and accuracy that their interpersonal interactions have all the energy of a deflated balloon. 

In any of those situations, your employee is probably going to come off as abrasive or uncaring to your customer. With a bad impression, at best, the customer probably isn’t going to do much repeat business or recommend you to the people they know. At worst, they’ll leave bad reviews and tell people to stay away. Either way, the poor personality fit means that your business isn’t going to thrive the way that it could.

With good attention to personality fit, your business can have enormous success

A good personality fit is important for any position in your company. But because the person who greets your customers or answers the phone has such direct contact with clients, they end up being the face of the agency. They’re the person who convinces the customer to have confidence in you and to purchase whatever product or service you offer. So, getting the right personality fit in this position is especially important. Once you have the right person, they need to have phone skills training. Consider recording all incoming and outgoing calls to review and critique on a regular basis. This is the only way to improve on customer service skills.

A simple personality test can also give you insight into whether you’ve got the right person for a great receptionist. Generally speaking, you want somebody at the front desk who’s open, values relationships, and who’s really good at persuading others even as they go with the flow. This personality type might be labeled differently based on the specific test — under DISC, for example, it’s the Inspiring personality. But have potential candidates take a test as soon as you can and you’ll quickly narrow down the number of people you need to consider to fill the role. You can get more clarity about their personality during interviews to make sure they truly inspire and can help take your business where you want to go. 

And remember, be open-minded. If the test shows that somebody would be ideal for another open position you have, then go ahead and invite them to interview for that instead. With that approach, you’ll easily find not just a great receptionist, but other great people to fill your team, too. When your entire team is well-suited to their positions, the organization as a whole will work smoothly and successfully now and into the future.