Admin Assistant vs Receptionist: what’s the difference?

Dan Marshall • 06 Mar 2024 • 4 min read

What is a receptionist?

The job of a receptionist is to be a brand ambassador, deliver amazing first impressions on your behalf and keep customers coming back. They’re crucial to every business they operate within, as they’re the first voice or face a prospective customer, candidate or supplier hears or sees. 

Receptionist vs virtual receptionist

A receptionist is ideal for those businesses who require someone to physically sit in their office and meet and greet visitors. Traditionally working 9-5, they’re there to provide amazing service in-person to your customers. A virtual receptionist is similar, however, the main difference being that they’re based remotely and provided by an outsourced company who trains and specializes agents in customer service. Both are great options and are able to professionally answer your calls and represent your business perfectly.

What is an admin assistant?

Admin assistants work closely with managers to provide support and co-ordinate the day-to-day activities of an organization. This includes taking meeting minutes, handling expense reports, purchasing equipment for new personnel, overseeing department budgets and generally improving efficiencies. Admin assistants often work in specialized fields that require training and industry experience, as they work closely with key stakeholders and team members on important projects.

What is the difference between a receptionist and an admin assistant? 

Customer service speciality: Both receptionists and admin assistants require amazing customer service skills. Effective communication is one of the most important qualities for a receptionist, as they need to be able to clearly advise customers and understand the nature of their inquiry to then explain to other members of the team. Although admin assistants require customer service skills too, they don’t communicate with customers as often as receptionists, so this isn’t always an area of strength for them.

Multitasking: Receptionists are used to multitasking as they regularly take calls, send messages and greet customers, all at the same time. Whereas, admin assistants usually have to focus on one thing at a time due to the nature of their workload and responsibilities.

Responsibilities: Admin assistants and receptionists have different responsibilities. An admin assistant will support their co-workers on projects as well as contacting external stakeholders. A receptionist’s main responsibility is to engage with customers and escalate their query to the right person. A receptionist will also be the face of the company, so it’s important that they always make a good first impression.

Work schedules: Admin assistants will normally work during traditional business hours so that they can support the office as much as possible when the majority of the core team are in. Receptionists may work early mornings, late nights or even overnight so that they can capture all new inquiries, provide support out of hours and ensure high customer satisfaction.

What are the similarities between a receptionist vs admin assistant?

Organization: Being organized as a receptionist and admin assistant is crucial. Whether it’s greeting customers while on the phone, arranging calendars during a business meeting, ensuring that all deadlines are met or keeping on top of inquiries from customers and coworkers, there’s always more than one thing on the go. 

Effective communication: Both a receptionist and admin assistant need to have great communication skills. Whether it’s dealing with customers and clients or within their own teams internally, it’s important that they’re able to successfully and clearly communicate with others and understand how to apply language that’s appropriate to the situation. 

Problem-solving: An admin assistant may need to problem-solve when dealing with external vendors and associates, as well as technology glitches. Whereas a receptionist will need to use their problem-solving skills when supporting customers to help maintain the reputation of the business.

Discretion: Both a receptionist and admin assistant often deal with sensitive or private information, so both of their roles require them to remain discrete and be mindful when dealing with any personal data. 

Should you hire an admin assistant, receptionist, or virtual receptionist?

Admin assistants, receptionists and virtual receptionists are all very similar roles, and it depends on your business needs which one is right for you. By outsourcing to a virtual receptionist, you will reap the benefits of both an admin assistant and receptionist. A virtual receptionist is available 24/7 and will increase your leads outside of business hours. They will answer calls exactly as if based in your business to give your customers the impression they work for you, if that’s your preference. Hiring a virtual receptionist is a cost-effective option as you won’t have to pay a salary, benefits or the cost of training a new employee. In some cases, using a quality virtual receptionist can even lead to higher customer satisfaction because they’re often trained in empathizing and connecting with callers, which leads to higher retention.

If you’re looking for someone to be at the front of your business, greeting customers and answering calls, then you should hire a receptionist. However, if you need someone to support your co-workers with key projects and be an extra pair of hands in your back office, then an admin assistant may be for you. If, on the other hand, you need a mixture of both, or someone that is available outside of business hours, a virtual receptionist is a great option.

Why VoiceNation?

With the best pricing and great people, VoiceNation’s Virtual Receptionist Service leads the market. Don’t wait any longer, give your customers the first-class service they deserve. Contact us today to learn more about our Virtual Receptionist Service.