Later today (or, by the time you read this, sometime yesterday, or earlier this week or month, or long ago when I was just a young lass) I will spend an hour at the front desk at work, and I will bend over backwards to be super nice to everyone who walks in (or calls, whatever) especially the people who are entertaining the idea of spending money at this establishment.
I don’t mind covering the front desk, but I am really glad to not work as a receptionist anymore. I’ve spent many Mondays of my life staring down the barrel of another week in the receptionist’s chair.
I’m making this all about me, but what I’m really trying to say is that I’m sympathetic that working as a receptionist is thankless and boring at best, and at worst, you get yelled at for other people’s mistakes. Most of the time, it doesn’t bother me when my interaction with a receptionist is just kinda okay.
But there are two places in this world where receptionists need to be outstanding: the gym, and the dentist. I have visited both in the past few days. Here are two stories …
At the gym
Yesterday, Joel and I planned to meet up with our friends to tour a gym in our neighborhood and talk about membership plans. We decided to meet there at 2:30, and Joel and I ended up getting there about 15 minutes early. We figured this would work out perfectly, as it would probably take a few minutes to drum up someone who could show us around.
As it turned out, the person who could give us a tour was on lunch, but would be back in about 20 minutes. No problem, we said, since our friends would be there in another 15 minutes.
Now, it’s probably not fair to call the person who was working the front desk a receptionist – he was probably someone who only works at the gym in order to get discounted or free membership. But still. When a group of four people who are potentially going to pay a recurring monthly fee walk in and stand in your lobby — you’re nice to them, right? Not this guy.
After 45 minutes of waiting with no explanation or apology (or even much acknowledgement) from the receptionist/guy-who-drew-the-short-straw-and-had-to-work-the-front-desk-yesterday-afternoon, we walked out and drove down to the 24 Hour Fitness in the local shopping center.
When we walked in, the receptionist was helping another customer but acknowledged us, and before we even made it to the front desk, a well dressed guy walked up, shook our hands, introduced himself as the gym manager, and asked how he could help us out. 30 minutes later, we sat down and handed over money.
Oh, and when we were walking out the door, a woman who’d been working out when we were touring said “did you guys sign up? You won’t regret it, I’ve been going to this gym for years and it’s great.”
I don’t really like going to the gym, but I’m happy that we picked a good one.
At the dentist
This story starts back in 2007, and it’s a little embarrassing for me. It was a Wednesday morning, and the night before, I’d finished a big paper and then celebrated by drinking too much wine and watching too much South Park. Because I was newly 21 and in college.
ANYway, at 7:30 in the morning, my phone rang and even though I had a wine hangover, I picked it up. On the other line was the receptionist at the dentist’s office, to tell me I’d missed my 7 am appointment that morning. She asked if I’d be able to make it to the 7 am appointment I had scheduled the next week, and when I told her I probably would not, she gave me a lecture about not making appointments if I didn’t know that I could keep them. Then she asked if I would like to reschedule my appointment for six months out. I told her I didn’t know if I’d be able to keep it and hung up on her.
But that is not the most embarrassing part of the story. The embarrassing part is this: I used that one receptionist as an excuse to not go back to the dentist, any dentist, for five years. 🙁
When I finally made my next dental appointment, I chose a dentist in my neighborhood who came highly recommended by one of my massage school teachers. The dentist is good, but the real reason I’ll keep going to this dentist is that everyone who works in the office is so damn nice.
This is the best, most customer service oriented part – when I walk in the door, the receptionist says “hi, Jennie!” I doubt she actually remembers my name – she’s probably looking at the schedule to remind herself, but that little thing makes going to my least favorite place in the world so much more bearable.
I once had a dentist harass me for months about the work they still wanted me to get done after my insurance benefits had run out for the year. When I told them that I couldn’t come back until the new year, the receptionist snapped “So do you just want me to throw your files away, then?”
YEAH, NOW I DO.