Whether you’re embarking on new receptionist job or just filling in for the afternoon, here are four easy ways to sound like a pro from the get-go:

Begin every call with a great greeting. Start with a warm welcome like “Good morning” or “Thank you for calling” (or use both). Be sure to state the business name, and if you feel like upping the friendliness factor, try introducing yourself. Always end your greeting with an offer of assistance. Here’s what a solid greeting looks like:

Good morning! Thank you for calling ABC Company. This is Ruby. How may I help you?

Courtesy is key. The secret to making a good impression can be summed up in two words: friendliness and professionalism. Commanding phrases like “I need your name” are a big no-no; always ask for information politely, as in “May I ask who is calling?” Use “please” and “thank you” liberally, as well as upbeat, affirmative words like “absolutely” and “certainly.”

Fear no question. If you’re new to a job chances are you’re going to be asked questions you’re not quite sure how to answer. Here’s a trade secret: You don’t have to have an answer in order to reply with confidence and grace. Instead of uttering a defeated “I don’t know,” try “That’s a great question! I’ll be happy to look into that for you,” or “Good question! I’ll find the best person to answer it.”

Know there’s always a way to help (and offer it!). If you’re not able to put your caller in touch with the person they’re looking for, be prepared to offer something else. For example, saying “Tim is in a meeting” is not so helpful, but add a bit more to it and you’re on the right track:

Tim is in a meeting at the moment, but I’ll be happy to take a message!

Tim is in a meeting at the moment. Would you like me to try his assistant?

And remember, it’s your overall friendliness and desire to help that will make a difference in your callers’ days. With a little kindness and courtesy, you’re sure to make a great impression on every caller!

Photo via Flickr user locosteve