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What are the most important attributes for an office manager/receptionist?

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Question: "What are the most important attributes for a combined office manager/receptionist position (for both co-workers and customers)? Specifically, I’m asking for a small, busy dental office. Thanks!"  —Kimberly

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Betty Blake October 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm

My goodness – Will you PLEASE do a piece that tells people the difference between “intra” and “inter”??? While you’re at it, “effect” vs “affect” wouldn’t hurt, either. But, I have never heard of “intrapersonal skills” and the poor dear who wrote the comment about those will embarrass herself some day if she doesn’t learn the difference. The MOST important thing that an Office Manager/Secretary can learn is correct English. It can make you AND your boss look bad if your written OR spoken grammar is incorrect.

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Sue October 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm

A friend once took off work, rode the metro to go to the dentist (carrying his little reminder card of the date and time), only to be told (in his suit and tie) by the receptionist that there must’ve been made a mistake … There was a little kid in the same time slot and she’d have to reschedule my friend’s appt. Your question reminded me of that. He left but then realized: Wait a minute, the kid takes priority over someone who took off work? And they’re not even going to work me in? He never went back for the “rescheduled” appointment. That was 20 some years ago and he said he’s been with the new dentist he found ever since…(as have his wife/kids). So I’d say customer service mentality is top priority…She should have been willing to go to the dentist/dental hygenist and say. Sorry, I screwed up… here’s situation…we’d better work this guy in. I doubt he would’ve left the practice if he’d just had to read a magazine a little longer, but sending him away was a big mistake.

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Jane October 18, 2011 at 9:57 pm

This person must realize that she represents the company from the operation side to the reception side. She is the gatekeeper as well as the person responsible for what is needed, to what gets done. As one of these I answer phones, I greet the customers, offer water or coffee and make sure the person my guest is here to see knows the customer is in the lobby area. I relay information to customers courteously by phone or in person, and do whatever the job takes to make the other person feel welcome and important. As office manager, I make sure the equipment is all in working order, the supplies are available, the emails are taken care of and arranged on my bosses desk, all applications and paperwork is ready, and my co-workers and I work together to get the job done and do what is necessary. I multitask and arrange my boss’s calendar is up-to-date as I make all his appointments. I’m outgoing, flexible, computer savvy, and always looking for ways to do my work better.

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Tracy Christian October 18, 2011 at 10:21 am

Above all, patience, good listening skills, observation and willing to consider and implement new ideas! The office manager can easily and more often than not be the subject of criticism by the Associate who feels he or she can do it better. I find it a great help to often times ask your work mates what can you do to help the office run more efficiently. Are there certain supplies within budget that can be ordered; conduct quarterly work station audits for health, safety and efficiency. Something as simple as moving a phone to another position can cut down on back strain. Be alert to articles related to office management as the business changes quickly.

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Catherine October 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

The office manager/receptionist should be courteous, professional and above all, flexible in order to accommodate the many demands of the position. Ideally, this person would possess excellent intrapersonal skills, almost-perfect attendance and would welcome any additional duties that may differ from the original job description. Constant willingness is the key characteristic.

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Sara October 17, 2011 at 11:20 am

I agree that customer service should be number one. After that I think the best attribute should be the abilitiy to multi-task. It’s been many years, but I once held this type of position for a busy ENT office. I had to simultaneously greet the patients, answer the phones, take payments, make return appointments, type insurance forms, etc… All with a smile on my face. You get the picture! (I’m much older than I was in those days – not sure I could handle it now!)

Tact is a huge component of dealing with people who, if not sick exactly, are not loving being there in the first place.

Good luck in your search!

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Lisa October 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I agree with Jessie, with a comment for consideration. I am assuming your question is in regards to the hiring of an Office Manager/Receptionist. After hiring this person, remember, if you are “really” happy with their customer service skills, make sure you are willing to keep their skills honed via customer service seminars, webinars, and/or self-educating books, the cost of which would be picked up by the your office. This is a skill that “can” become stagnant. Just a thought to consider.

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Jessie Groft October 14, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Customer service skills should be #1! Aside from all the technical skills – knowing how to use the computer software and medical/billing system, understanding the phone system, etc. you want to make sure this person has extremely good customer service ability – to be able to keep his/her composure and aplomb even with the most difficult and unhappy customers. This is your first contact your patients will have with your office – so no matter how efficient they are in other areas – people will remember if they were treated well or not.

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Debbie October 14, 2011 at 2:22 pm

The ability to listen carefully, be understanding, and know that respect is a two way street. A manager is not always the most popular person in the office but a good manager has the respect of her coworkers and customers alike.

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