5 Bad Habits Every Receptionist Should Break

Receptionists often represent the voice of a business, literally, and how they interact with customers reflects on the reputation of a company. Their communication skills—or the lack of—have the power to build or break customer loyalty. Here are 5 of the most common bad habits that receptionists are often unaware they are guilty of, and that make callers cringe:

Trying to speed through a call

Everyone understands that receptionists are busy, especially when more than one call comes in at a time. But speeding through greetings and questions confuses and frustrates callers, and usually results in having to repeat information so that the caller can clearly understand what’s being said. Slow down, and take the time to speak clearly in a cheerful, professional voice. At Towne, we call it “gracious service” and encourage our receptionists to take the time that’s needed for each caller to feel clearly heard and valued.

Saying “hold please”

Nobody actually enjoys being put on hold, but there are times it’s inevitable. If you must put a caller on hold, explain why and ask for permission. Saying “I’ll connect you to Mr. Jones, and may I put you on hold while I do so?” or “May I put you on hold while I find out the answer to your question?” is received much more favorably than “Hold please.” Never leave the person on hold for more than a minute or two without updating them on the status of their request.

Not controlling the tone

Receptionists are responsible for keeping each conversation calm and productive, and must establish a positive tone from the first hello. Even in the event that a caller is frustrated or angry, responding defensively or impatiently only escalates the situation. It’s in the best interest of the customer and the business’s reputation for receptionists to stay level-headed and let the caller know they’re in capable, caring hands. For example, an empathetic response like “I can imagine that was frustrating for you,” followed by an offer to connect the caller to the staff member who can fix the problem makes the caller feel—once again—heard and valued.

Sharing too much

Customers or clients have no idea that your phones have been ringing off the hook, or that the caller before them was rude, or any other aspect about your day—and honestly, they shouldn’t. All that matters is why they are calling and how you are going to help them in the most efficient and effective way possible. Communicating anything beyond that is unprofessional and reflects poorly on the culture of your business.

Failing to repeat or verify information

It is always a good habit to repeat information back to a caller, and to write down key components such as the caller’s name, the reason for calling, and actions that need to be taken. This prevents unnecessary mistakes like transferring a caller to the wrong department. Callers rarely get irritated if a receptionist asks, “Your business is important to us and I want to make sure I have your information right, so may I repeat it back to you?” For the last time, it all comes down to seemingly simple yet powerful steps that help a customer feel valued and heard. Because when callers feel valued and heard, they are much more likely to become loyal customers or clients.

If your receptionists are overwhelmed and not able to consistently deliver the best phone communication skills, it may be time to consider hiring an answering service. To learn how Towne Answering Service can keep your customers smiling with “gracious service,” call us at 800-660-4316 for a free consultation.

You can also visit our website to learn more about our various business solutions and service commitment, and how we can partner with your business to provide personalized, exceptional customer care that meets your specific needs and goals.


Deb Crown

About Deb Crown

Towne Answering Service was established in 1968 to provide answering services for medical and commercial clients in the southeastern Pennsylvania area. Utilizing the best technology available at the time (the time was 1968 and the technology was a switchboard), Towne was able to establish a very faithful clientele, the majority of whom are still with us today. As time passed and technology advanced, so did the equipment. The answering service equipment evolved from switchboards to a basic computerized system with handwritten messages. From that, we were able to move to a fully computerized, paperless, state-of-the-art messaging system with digital lines and switching and were able to partner with our clients and provide a higher level of service.