Hidden Talents of Receptionists

Posted: May 16, 2016
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This week is “CSR Appreciation Week” at DoveLewis. Client Service Representatives maintain a very important role in the hospital. I worked on the floor as a CSR for a little over a year and I am very excited to have recently transitioned to working on the atdove.org team. I loved working as a CSR because of how much I learned and how I was able to help others. CSRs are the first to greet clients when they walk through the door, and are often the last to interact with clients on their way out. They act as the voice of the client while their pet is in the hospital and work hard to create a comfortable environment for people experiencing medical emergencies with their pet. When you think about receptionists in veterinary medicine, duties like checking patients in and out, answering the phone, scheduling appointments, and getting updates for clients may come to mind. Since there is so much that CSRs at DoveLewis do on daily basis, I thought I could highlight a few of their skills that you might not think of.

One of the skills that I developed while working as a CSR was my knowledge of community resources. CSRs get asked so many questions throughout their shift. Within just a month or two of working at the front desk, I learned so much about wildlife, animal shelters, low income resources, and much more. I can tell you which species of squirrels are native to the state of Oregon, what hours the Audubon society is open, what clinics offer low cost spay and neuter promotions, and about a hundred other random facts. I am always so impressed with how well-informed all of our CSRs are about events and resources for our clients in the Portland area.

When I first started working at the front desk, I knew I would spend a lot of time talking to clients in person and on the phone, but what I didn’t think of was how important it is to be a good listener. I think what is most valuable to a lot of our clients that come into the hospital is knowing that they are being heard by our hospital staff.  CSRs are the primary contact for many of our clients, and listening to their personal stories and past frustrations is a huge part of being a CSR.

Another attribute that all of our CSRs possess is a thick skin. Helping clients through sad and stressful situations can quickly become draining if you are unable to balance empathy for clients with staying professional and pragmatic.  The ability to quickly shift between working with sad clients, angry clients, and happy clients all within a few minutes is an admirable skill that I think normally goes unnoticed.

There is so much that receptionists in veterinary medicine are responsible for that it’s easy for some of their most important skills and daily duties to go unnoticed. From small things like laughing at bad jokes and pleasantly making small talk about the weather all day, to big things like going from helping a family through the euthanasia process and then turning around to immediately greet a happy client; these responsibilities are not what comes to mind when we think of what it’s like to be a CSR. I found that the most valuable qualities in a CSR aren’t things you’ll necessarily see in a job description or on a job duties list. It has a little bit to do with what we learn on the job, and a lot bit to do with the total unconditional support we want for our patients and their families, and our willingness to go the extra distance to guarantee that for them.