Get to the Point, Callers

Buddah Statue at Riverbend Hot Springs, NMIn 1992, I’d just finished college, and in order to pay my student loans, I took a job as a receptionist at a big marketing firm. I was the lowest admin on the org chart, and it was an awful, demeaning experience. But little did I know that the skills I learned on that job would come in handy so many years later.

Here at Riverbend, we answer the phone when we aren’t giving tours, cleaning the pools or doing laundry. Although I do my best to sound cheery, I really hate picking up the phone; it just takes me back to that awful job. Many conversations are an exercise in Buddah-like patience, especially on busy weekends.

Riverbend Hot Springs, how can I help you?”

Uh yeah, we want to come and soak, after we see our aunt in Santa Fe and before we go to Arizona. Maybe we should stop on the way back though. But do you get crowded on Thursdays? Maybe we should stop on Tuesday. What’s the weather supposed to be like? Hmmm, I should ask my husband what he thinks . . .”

Oftentimes, the caller will proceed to relay their entire itinerary to me, hem and haw, then second guess every thing they ask. They might say goofy things, like:

  • Hmmm. I don’t know what kind of room I want, or when I’m going to be there, but do you think I should make a reservation?
  • Will it be busy today?
  • Tell me, what’s in the water in the hot tubs? I have this skin condition, you see. . .

Answering phones while workampingMeanwhile, the line of people in front of the desk keeps growing.

Sometimes I wish I could say “Gaaah! How do you manage to tie your shoes every day?!”

May I suggest something to you, dear readers? The next time you feel it’s absolutely necessary to pick up the phone and call a lodging establishment that you’d like to visit, please think of the poor person picking up the phone, and try to image a slew of road weary travelers waiting in line at the front desk. Before you dial, ask yourself; can I get these answers on the Internet? If the answer is “no”, then before dialing, please know exactly why you are calling, and get to the point!

14 thoughts on “Get to the Point, Callers”

  1. Sorry you didn’t enjoy your receptionist duties! Now retired, but most of my jobs (“career”, if you will) have been front desk/info assitant for government agencies (national forests, primarily). And I loved every minute of it! My job, I figured, was to make the public feel as good, or better, about their government when they left as when the came in. And it’s not hard … talking to people, finding out what they want to do, what kind of RV they have, etc. etc. …. even talking about where they came from. Taking time with them. Anything to find a commonality, and it was well worth it. Yes, I had my share of angry people for one reason or other and the random oddball questions — one woman who called our office (in Washington State) in early spring and asked if I knew when the roads in Yellowstone were open. I was taken aback for a moment, then I said “How in the world would I know that???” — we both laughed and she apologized because she didn’t know who else to call, and I found the phone number for her and she was happy. One person called and wanted to know where the nearest Belgium Embassy was – I figured Seattle. I would stay late for people when they couldn’t make it by closing time, and often took things to people after we’d closed when they couldn’t get in. It’s all about Public Service, with a smile, and meaning it!

    Good times and good memories. I’d do it again in an instant, if I were 20 years younger … πŸ˜€ …

  2. Rene, I am sure your two creative minds will find a way to automate the phone system to answer most questions, refer people to your website and screen out the not-so-serious callers. You have the skills to overcome this issue! Surely you took calls at the printing business? Don’t let this deter you from dreaming your “impossible dream”.

    A note for Jim, I love the way, even when far away on the road, your father-in-law still corrects your inaccuracies! Very amusing. Hope all is well!

  3. being run through the “wringer” refers to the antiquated washing machines that us “oldies” grew up with!, the featured a device consisting of 2 rubber rollers spring loaded together which you ran the wet clothes through to “wring” the water out of them, too many times they also wrung your hand right up to the elbow! fyi————– welcome !

  4. Oh, the memories this brings back. Try working for a small computer repair shop and having ‘customers’ call you because one time, a long time ago, you fixed their PC. Now, they have forgotten how to use a mouse and/or want you to walk them through some obscure piece of software… for free of course. Makes you wonder how you stomached that first low-paying ‘real job’ doesn’t it?

  5. I hear you on the ‘talking with the public’ thing. I write for a TV station’s website and my boss recently updated the “Contact Us” page and included the web staff phone number. Now we’re getting all kinds of calls from the general public… old ladies upset that we pre-empted their soap for breaking news, old men upset with Bush, people who can’t find links we talked about in the newscast, people who were interviewed by a TV reporter and want the clip on the web so they can show all their friends and family… etc., etc. It’s driving me absolutely crazy! Don’t tell my boss, but I’ve let the phone go to voicemail a few times just to get some peace.

  6. Oh come on Sissy, I know you pick up the phone as part of YOUR job, but you work for the county for cryin’ out loud! You only have to talk to nerdy engineers, you don’t get the ding dongs and wierdos that private businesses get.

  7. Jeepers, first desk job in almost a year and you’re already losing it? You say “excuse me, let me take your name and number and I’ll get right back to you with that information” then you handle the real people. Then call them back. & what about caller ID and/or an answering machine? You have to remember inquiries mean $$ most of the time πŸ™‚

    R u drinking too much coffee?

  8. I liked how one guy ran me through the ringer describing all the different rooms, rates and package deals, only to tell me he had to conference “with his girlfriend” on this. He was ready to come “right now, but you know women…”

    He then shared with me how they were planning to spend their tax rebates to treat themselves. So that’s how this whole rebate thing is going to boost the economy! πŸ™„

  9. Some of these mouth breathers do the same thing with email messages, letters, etc.

    You can still say what you mean without being rude or without skipping the pleasantries (such as hello, thank you, I appreciate your help). Just get_to_it.

    **serenity now**

  10. Uh, maybe you aren’t cut out for running a resort. It looks like this workcamping experience has taught you something very valuable-whatever else you end up doing when you grow up, you’d better keep your interactions with a phone to a minimum. Why keep revisiting that traumatically awful job? Life’s too short. Unless of course, you can make Jim do that part πŸ˜‰ Once you’re settled again, if you ever are, he won’t have all that satellite stuff to mess with, so answering the phone shouldn’t be problem, right?


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