For the past year, I’ve been working as a receptionist in a dialysis clinic, and I’ve really learned a lot. As far as day jobs go, it’s probably the most challenging and rewarding gigs I’ve ever had. Being a receptionist may consist primarily of boring, clerical work, and a seemingly endless string of punishing phone conversations, but it’s nice to know that even when you don’t particularly like the work you’re doing, it really is work that matters. That being said, I think it’s fair to say there are a few things about being a receptionist that all receptionists want you to know.
Luckily, I’ve amassed enough freelance work over the past year that I got to officially break up with my administrative day job last week. I couldn't be happier about the fact that, in a matter of weeks, I’ll be trading in my name tag, time cards, and required smile for even more quality time with my laptop. However, with my time as a receptionist coming to a close, I feel like it’s my civic duty to write about a few of the crappier aspects of the job — all of which are brought on by people who just don’t get what it’s like to be a receptionist.
So the next time you have an appointment of some kind and are forced to interact with the receptionist, please keep the following five things receptionists want you to know in mind. I guarantee it will make the whole experience better for everyone involved.
1. Remember That We Do A Lot More Than Answer Phones
I know it seems like all receptionists do is answer and direct calls for eight hours a day, but we do a hell of a lot more than that. Especially medical receptionists. Our desks become the catch-all zone for everyone else’s problems, and we have to take care of whatever problems we get tossed, because that’s our job. Plus, we have our own assigned duties such as scheduling, filing, billing, customer service, supply orders, and assisting various department heads with reports and other tasks.
On top of all of that, the phone does ring constantly and it’s our responsibility to juggle however many lines decide to light up at once. And we do all of this while simultaneously assisting those who come up to our desk with the expectation that we will hang up on someone mid-conversation so as to immediately address their needs.
2. Our Time is Valuable, So Don’t Waste It
As I said above, we actually are responsible for quite a bit. I feel like I never get as much done in a day as I should, and even on the days where I do manage to get a ton of work done, I leave work with the knowledge that so much more work will have accumulated by the next morning. It’s never ending.
So, if there’s something you can handle yourself, like, getting your own glass of water or changing the channel on the waiting room's TV instead of asking the receptionist to do it for you, (this really happens, I swear) then do it. Receptionists do a lot, and most of what we do is very time sensitive. So, please don’t waste our time with things you don’t really need us to take care of.
3. For The Love Of God, Don’t Tap On Our Glass
My workspace is behind a little glass window, as many receptionist’s workspaces are, and people tap on it to get my attention every friggin’ day. I hate it, it’s rude, and I really thought it was just common sense not to do this, but apparently it isn’t. I am not a fish in a tank or a snake in a cage. Do not tap on my glass! There are many other ways to get a receptionist's attention, but this way is by far the worst and most annoying. Before you ever tap, try saying “excuse me." Trust me, our glass isn't soundproof. Say anything above a whisper and you will be heard.
4. Don’t Mistake Our Bubbly Demeanor For Stupidity
I consider myself a pretty happy, upbeat person most of the time. But, trust me, being bubbly and smiling all the time is not natural. For anyone. Additionally, being in a good mood most of the time and smiling a lot doesn’t mean you’re dumb or naive. If you’re a receptionist, it just means you’re doing your job. We’re the first face anyone sees, so it's literally in our job description to be all Jessica Day-ish even if you’re being Severus Snape-ish. Don’t make it harder on us by being condescending and grumpy.
5. We Have No Control Over Wait Times
We really, really don’t control wait times. I’ve only worked as a medical receptionist, but I feel like this is true for receptionists in all fields. We may schedule (and reschedule) the appointments, but we’re not responsible if the person before you shows up late or ends up needing more time than we thought they would. I know it sucks to have to wait for an appointment, (especially when you show up early) but it really isn’t something we can control so please don’t take it out on us.