Be Kind to Your Receptionists

A friendly reminder not to take your frustrations out on the front-desk people of the world.

This is harder than it sounds when everything that goes wrong ends up falling on the shoulders of the front desk staff.

When pet owners lose their patience or become angry over the increased prices, they take it out on us. When a client doesn’t have an appointment and then becomes angry because there is an hour wait, they take it out on us. When the doctor promises to call a client back and the client has been standing by the phone and 15 minutes have gone by and the doctor still hasn’t called, they take it out on us. Really, any problem out of my control as a receptionist, the customers took it out on us.

It is very hard work being a receptionist, a server, a customer service rep, a cashier, and every other client-facing job out there.

A warm and inviting receptionist, as opposed to a harsh and unfriendly receptionist, can make all the difference in deciding whether a customer will return to that business. That’s a lot of pressure for all first point of contact employees to keep a positive environment, but they do it and they do it well. It’s a damn shame these jobs have somehow been thrown to the bottom of the career totem pole. Working in customer service is not easy.

So I did my job, which meant handling the situation before it escalated.

I shuffled around the hospital trying to find out if anyone knew more about this case. As I walked into the treatment area, I ran into the doctor Mrs. Elle was looking for. “Oh, thank God you’re here. Mrs. Elle is here for you but I told her you were gone for the day. The schedule says you were off hours ago.”

I got an exam room ready and motioned for the client and her husband to come in to wait for the doctor.

As they followed me into the room, the woman hissed, “I knew Dr. K was here. You’re new right?” I had been working there for some time now, but in her defense, I was one of the newest hires at the hospital. Still, it was irrelevant.

I just about lost it at that point, but I cared about my job too much to say anything back.

Like a dog hiding my tail between my hind legs, I walked out of the room, feeling like complete shit. I told the doctor everything the woman said, and nothing came of it, other than it turned into a hot topic around the hospital the next day. “Did you hear what Mrs. Elle said to Jessica yesterday?!” (I later found out dear Mrs. Elle is a school teacher, and it terrified me that someone who speaks to people like this is an educator.)

I will never forget the insensitive way this woman spoke to me.

And customer service employees everywhere encounter people like Mrs. Elle (and worse) all the time. Because I’ve been there before, I appreciate even more so the hard work that receptionists/servers/cashiers do. They get the shittiest attitudes from all sides and the worst part is, they have to smile back while someone talks down to them and belittles their job.

It is not an easy thing to do, keeping a smile on your face while someone belittles your existence and undermines your job.

But there are people who do it every single day. These people all deserve (at the very least) health insurance and livable wages. Unfortunately, many won’t see any of those things while working in a customer facing role.

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Writer & editor telling stories about healing, relationships, and self-love. Co-editor of Fearless She Wrote. Let’s chat:

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