Sunday, October 24, 2010

One Ringy Dingy....

Let me preface this post by reminding you that I do enjoy my job, my coworkers, and the overwhelming majority of our patients.  However, a post detailing the joys of my workplace would not be terribly entertaining.  The one thing that gets on my nerves is the phone.  I handle the front desk all by my lonesome and I only have so many ears and hands for attending to details like ringing phones, credit cards, patient records, computers, and questions.  I'd much rather attend to the human beings in front of me than the phone ringing insistently. Today you get some of what I fantasize about saying or doing when the phone just won't stop.

*Ring ring*
Hello, XYZ Chiropractic. This is Michelle, how may I help you?

Hi, I need to make an appointment.  I have this crick in my back.  I've had a lot of problems over the years.  My neck hurts and I get sciatica real bad.  It started back when I was a waitress in '72 and I dropped this heavy tray of food and I was trying to catch it and twisted up real bad in the process and things just haven't been right since. then long about '83 I fell down the basement steps when I was chasing my cat after it stole my socks out of the laundry basket.  In '95 I had the first of 6 car accidents. (Insert extensive details of crashes)  Last year I fell off a ladder when I was cleaning my gutters because that no account husband of mine wouldn't do it and they were backing up.  Sometimes my fingers go numb and my eyelids twitch and my breath smells bad and I see spots.  I dunno if your doctor can fix me because I've seen everyone in the western world and so far they all think I'm hopeless but I was reading Web MD and I'm pretty sure if they just adjust me once or twice I might be ok.  Do you think they'd do that for me even though I haven't been there before?

Lady, I checked out 12 other patients, filed a ream of paperwork, and read War and Peace in the time you took to give me your extended health history.  I'm just the front desk girl.  I don't need your health history. Save it for the doctors.  I just need to know if you want a morning or afternoon appointment and on what day.  Can we keep it brief here?  I have a backlog of 12 more patients who need to be checked in and out and I couldn't even get in a word edgewise long enough to ask if I could momentarily put you on hold.  Of course I probably could have done so and come back just in time to hear the important part of the call. 

*Ring ring*
(Insert my generic greeting)

(Demandingly) I want an appointment at 2.

Ok wait, while I slip into my Amazing Kreskin gear here and figure out who you are and what kind of appointment you need.  See we do have caller ID but it doesn't always work...especially if YOU have things set to not identify you.  Then there's that issue of the appointment because if all you need is a quick adjustment it's all good but if you need to see the massage therapist and she already has a patient at 2 I can't very well kick the other patient out or stack you up 2 deep on the table.  If you want that kinda service there's a massage parlor of dubious legitimacy down the road I can direct you to.  Likewise if you have never been here before I need to make sure the exam room is open so they can give you a proper exam.  See they manipulate spines here and before doing so they like to have a good understanding of your particular spine they don't wind up making things worse.  But hey, if you don't care about things like that let me direct you to my former employer.  She'll adjust you right on the street 30 seconds after she meets you....or as long as it takes for you to sign the document waiving your right to sue should you be injured.

*Ring ring*

Hi , this is John Doe of the Chiropractic Equipment Supply Company. We carry the latest gizmos and gadgets for spine cracking and crunching.  Our gazoochies have been shown to be the most durable, most effective, and are highly affordable.  We are also favored by all the best chiropractors and have the stamp of approval from the Association of Chiropractors Who Are Sure They are Doing Better Than Your Guy.  Would you be in charge of purchasing?

Dude, you can't possibly enjoy making these phone calls any more than I enjoy receiving them.  Ditch the script and lead with the pertinent question rather than the spiel.  It'll save you some time having to repeat that crap 100 times a day.  It will also save me having to listen to it because no...I am not in charge of purchasing and I am willing to bet 98% of the people who answer the phone when you call are also not in charge of purchasing at their respective offices.  They are just the poor schmoes like me who have to field all the sales calls when they are trying to deal with the main part of their job, which is to help patients get where they need to be.

*Ring ring*

Hi this is Jane  Doe from Cheap Ass Car Insurance.  We sent a records request for John Smith on the 5th of last month.  We also received the records and the billing and the notes for the previous month but it wasn't on form FHITA and had coding errors which requires that we deny the claim which can be re-submitted if you redo the forms in triplicate, wave a chicken over your grandmother's grave on the next full moon and agree to giving us your firstborn child as a human sacrifice but only if it all occurs by tomorrow provided tomorrow is a day with the letter N in its name.  Are you responsible for the billing?

Seriously, is there a reason why no one can just say who they are and ask for the person they actually need to speak to? It would really streamline things here. No I am not responsible for billing and I don't know jack about the forms needed.  I just answer the damn phones and direct the calls  WHILE I am trying to cheerfully handle the needs patients have. But since I have you on the phone, why the hell do you have to be such pains in the neck (har har, pun intended) about every damn thing.  You all just deny claims so you can keep the money a little while longer, meanwhile patients are in pain and now they are aggravated because you're being stingy bastards and they just want to get well but don't know if they can afford to. How about you just pay the freaking claim.

*Ring ring*

Hello, is this the doctor?

Oh sure.  The doctor has nothing else to do besides answer the phones.  He's sitting here waiting for your call with bated breath opting to ignore the patients in the office who are waiting for treatment. 

Finally the phones are quiet and the boss approaches me.

Michelle, have you made the appointment confirmation calls?  I have another list of calls I need you to make too.

(Heaving the phone through the plate glass window in front of my desk)


secret agent woman said...

This doctor actually does answer the phones and let me tell you, it's the same for me. Like the people who schedule and appointment and then want to tell me all about their issues there on the phone, when I have no extra time to spare.

Cosima said...

Oh oh, that sounds like a very busy day, but I loved reading about it. I think we blog readers should sponsor a massage for you at the questionable massage parlor down the road (only if they have muscular young guys in tight white coats of course).

G-Man said...

No Snorting please!!

Hilary said...

Poor you. That first call in particular sounds like the recorded telephone messages we'd get at the elementary school as to why the kidlets were going to be absent that day. We'd get details of what their poop looked like, how it was their father's fault they were sick, how few hours of sleep Mom got.. etc. And we were just volunteers.

I feel for you. It's a good thing you like your job. ;)

Beach Bum said...

(Heaving the phone through the plate glass window in front of my desk)

While my duties don't have me on the phone often I know the feeling.

Cocotte said...

From the other side, can I just say I hate appt. confirmation calls? I own a calendar and I actually use it!

But yes, I can see how patients can be annoying as well!

haphazardlife said...

You spelled bated right. I love you.

And thanks for easing my way back into work after a 2 week vacation. Now I know what I have to look forward to.

- Jazz

Suldog said...

I left customer service behind some twenty years ago. I am SOOOOO glad to not have to deal with the public.

Craig said...

I can take my phone and do WHAT with it? Oh, Ernestine, you don't really mean that. You do? Oh, Ernestine. . .

And, uh, the designation on the insurance form (FHITA) is, um, very suspicious. . .

S said...


That's all I have to say about working for other people.
And also, if I lived over there, I would be making a visit to your chiro, I neeeeeedddd a good one too!.


Cricket said...

Heh, heh. I'd never last in that job. Hell, I don't even answer my home phone unless I'm in the mood.

One funny variation on the theme: when I worked with Sul, we'd periodically get calls from irate customers wondering why their phone messaging unit didn't work. you had to talk these people down, in the nicest possible way, through several questions that solved 90% of the "problems." It was a trick, let me tell you, to get through these without insulting the client. Basically, the questions were these:

1) Is the unit plugged in?
2) Is the unit turned on?
3) Is the volume on the unit turned up?
4) Did you insert the tape which came with the unit into the machine?

Uh HUH. I see. I can't remember a single call I ever dealt with where one of the previous was not "the problem." Yep - I think you have a software problem... the stuff between yer ears is soft all right.

lime said...

cocotte, for the record i hate making the confirmation calls because i know they are annoying.

craig, whatever could yo ube suggesting? i'm sure i don't know

wink wink nudge nudge

WizzyTheStick said...

I'm scared to call my doctors receptionist now lol. I actually appreciate confirmation calls. I do use my phone calender and set alarms and such but every once in awhile technology fails

Mama Zen said...

I'm pretty sure that the phone is a torture device!

(M)ary said...

Wait.wait. I have one from the patients point of view.

Hi. This is Mary.I need an appointment. What's available?


How abt Thursday at 2.


How abt Friday at 10.


Ok, miss receptionist, pls redefine anytime.

I had that happen once....but I will be honest most of the time I am probably the annoying patient.

BBC said...

Fuck monkeys that don't want to die, just shoot them and make the planet a better place.

Well, I guess that would put you out of work, carry on then.

snowelf said...

The life story people are actually my favorites. Really. I love them. They make me smile.

Since I deal with computers, I get all sorts of fun calls too. And most techs hate the "non-techie" people, but they are my favorite too. They are always really, really nice and so appreciative of my help. They are the people that help me love my job. However,in my new job, I get to play with the servers a lot more without having to talk to so many people on the phone, but I still get to help out. Some days I'm awfully glad my first responsibility is to the servers. ;)


Dave said...

Ha ha, loved this blog Michelle. I can immagine that you do feel like that too. :-) - Dave

Mother Theresa said...

But aren't you just glad you're not the person in charge of purchasing or billing? Hey, I'm just looking for that silver lining...gotta be in there somewhere ;)