As Receptionists we all at times have “difficult” customers to deal with. It almost comes with the job. It’s how you handle the situation that is most important.
As a Medical Receptionist you have to take into consideration that patients might be difficult due to many different reasons. They could be feeling poorly, worried, anxious, they could have mental issues or they could be worrying about a loved one. Patients are very different to customers in so many different ways and medical Receptionist are always fully aware of this.
But, there is a limit to the rudeness that a Receptionist should expect to take. I witnessed a patient recently approach the reception desk. The receptionist was very pleasant and approached the patient with a smile saying “good morning” and “how can I help you” She certainly didn’t receive a good morning or a smile back, but instead a very angry and aggressive man demanding, yes demanding that she get a prescription done NOW for him for his heart tablets as he had “run out”.
He thrust his repeat prescription at her and told her to get it done. I could see the smile fixed on her face while politely said “let me see what I can do for you”. The Receptionist typed into the computer and explained to the patient that 3 of the 4 items on the repeat slip where not actually due for another 10 days. The patient flailed up and started shouting at the Receptionist demanding she do the script for his heart tablets. He wanted them NOW.
The receptionist again explained that 3 out of the 4 that he had ticked on the repeat were not due and the computer therefore would not allow her to request them. He started shouting and telling her how useless she was. He continued shouting telling her that it didn’t matter about the “other items” but he needed his heart tablets.
The Receptionist quietly asked the patient which ones where the heart tablets as she explained that she wasn’t medically qualified to know which ones where the heart ones. He then snatched the slip out of her hand whilst stabbing his finger on the slip of paper shouting “this one – it’s this one”.
The Receptionist then entered something onto the computer and said that she had requested the tablets and the doctor would sign the script electronically later on that morning and advised the patient that he could collect it from the pharmacy later on that afternoon.
You would have expected the patient to have given the Receptionist a “thank you” of some kind. No – that didn’t happen. The Receptionist had gone out of her way to ensure that the patient had not gone without his heart medication, ignoring the fact that the patient had not allowed the usual 48 hours for a repeat to be done and therefore putting his own health at risk and instead of a simple thank you as he turned to leave the surgery he shouted how useless everyone was at the surgery and how it had gone down hill recently.
I wondered to myself what it would have taken for this patient to actually have been happy as I felt that the Receptionist handled the situation exceptionally well.
I looked at the Receptionist as the patient left the building, she looked deflated, and almost ready to burst into tears.
Yet had she had said one wrong word to this patient, let alone explain that he shouldn’t have left it until he had run out to request his repeat I suspect she would have been hung drawn and quartered. She was in a no win situation.
Another patient came into the surgery and the Receptionist smiled and carried on……….
So, for all you Receptionists that go over and above your call of duty to help difficult patients and keep smiling – well done.