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Receptionist shouted at me and flounce off job

(199 Posts)
Waytooearly Fri 08-Nov-19 21:48:17

I'm trying to run a department with very little admin support.

We have loads of time-sensitive work and we get sued if it doesn't get done on time. We had a couple crises arise today. It's fulfilling work but you can only manage if you're super organised.

Our main receptionist has a bad habit of ringing me when randoms drop in. Fine, ring once, nice to see if I'm free, but usually I'll have to say take a message or book him in later. I can rarely come down for "just a sec". We don't see people without appointments.

Lately I've had to talk to her manager because the calls are becoming like:

"This lady dropped in..."

"Yeah, got this bundle due at 4,sorry,book her in on Thursday?"

"Yeah but she said that you said that she could come in any time..."

"Yeah really no, okay bye"

"Yeah but she has kids with her and they took the bus..."

I even get calls when I'm with clients.

Today she rang because a current client stopped in for a "quick question". I said "No, sorry, urgently getting something done before my 4:00 appointment," She rang again ten seconds later, saying again, "Yeah but he said that you said that he could just pop in?"

I said, "Well now I have to come down because you're doing this in front of him. When you do this it means my work doesn't get done and I have to stay late."

Of course the person popping in pulled out paperwork and wanted to have a sit down so that happened. I just shrugged and thought, " Fine, late-ish night at office" and resigned myself to it.

I left the impromptu appointment to find the receptionist flouncing about the lobby shouting that she was quitting because I had talked to her like shit. There were clients in the lobby. My colleague and I got her into a room and made soothing noises to shut her up.

She still left. I'm pretty sure it was a drama quit because her things are still here.

Our manager isn't here today.

What's the appropriate response from my manager here? She is very good friends with the receptionist and they socialise outside of work. I fear therell be some placating response so they don't have to hire a new admin.

Can someone coach me on how I navigate this?

Goldencarrot Sat 09-Nov-19 12:21:28

Do you tell you're clients they can just drop in like she says?

Goldencarrot Sat 09-Nov-19 12:21:51


gamerchick Sat 09-Nov-19 12:25:37

I kind of want to know that as well, do you?

YouJustDoYou Sat 09-Nov-19 12:26:10

Have you not sat her down before and said in black and white "no appointment, they can't come up"?, or "I've never said anyone can just pop in, so tell them they need an appointment", or, "please don't call me". Your utter lack of communication with her of what is expected of her sounds terribly lacking, no wonder she was so confused.

Celebelly Sat 09-Nov-19 12:28:00

Yes I think that's crucial really. It's a bit off to tell clients that and then the receptionist has to deal with annoyed clients who believed they could come in whenever. It makes her life a lot more difficult and if she's under pressure from clients because you've essentially told them a fib, I think you're being pretty U. And from a client's perspective too.

If you didn't say that ever though, the whole thing is weird as why would she keep saying you did?

Bluntness100 Sat 09-Nov-19 12:30:30

I'm also curious, why are your clients saying you tell them to just pop in if you don't wish them to pop in? And if you're not why didn't you tell her these people are lying and to say you're not available.

If you are telling them to just pop in then you're behaving appallingly to put the receptionist in this postion because when they do you don't want to see them. And if you're not then why haven't you explained they are all liars and to immediately say you're not available?

EffYouSeeKaye Sat 09-Nov-19 12:30:50

It’s ALL about whether you have told clients to drop in anytime, or not.

RedDogsBeg Sat 09-Nov-19 12:44:09

If you don't see clients without appointments then why are they popping in on the off chance to see you, who is telling them they can just pop in?

If the rule is no-one is seen without an appointment then the Receptionist needs to be enforcing this rule, if you are undermining her ability to do that by encouraging your clients to 'just pop in' then you need to admit it is your error causing this situation, apologise and stop doing it.

RedDogsBeg Sat 09-Nov-19 12:46:03

Oh and make it crystal clear to your clients that you will not see them unless they have an appointment.

Apolloanddaphne Sat 09-Nov-19 12:48:50

You need to be clearer with your clients that they cannot 'just pop in' and must make an appointment.

Peanutbutteryogurt Sat 09-Nov-19 12:52:10

I'd also like to know if you tell clients to just pop in, kind of crucial to the whole story.

PegasusReturns Sat 09-Nov-19 12:56:25

How you navigate this depends entirely on whether you've told people that they can just drop in.

Given you've chose to omit that critical piece of info from your OP I'm going to assume you have and therefore navigating is going to have to involve grovelling.

Laiste Sat 09-Nov-19 13:01:32

Yeah - the glaring question is: Pop in or not pop in ?

MitziK Sat 09-Nov-19 13:04:07

She's dealing with people who are arguing with her because you've seemingly told her that they can 'pop in anytime', but then refuse to deal with them, leaving her to have to try and placate them (when they're not taking 'She says go away'? And then try and get her into trouble with her manager for your refusal to keep to the promises you've made?).

I'm not surprised she's on the point of walking out. Especially if it's a local authority/benefits/housing/immigration situation.

BarbaraStrozzi Sat 09-Nov-19 13:04:47

Well, if she's flounced, she's probably done you a favour long term (even though it sucks in the short term sorting out a replacement).

With the replacement, sit down and talk them through exactly what the procedure for making bookings is/handling clients who drop in on the off chance - then back it up in writing with a step by step bullet-point email, so there's no reason for confusion.

BarbaraStrozzi Sat 09-Nov-19 13:06:09

NB OP didn't say the client could pop in any time, the client said that OP had told him that. Maybe the client was telling the truth, maybe he was full of shit. (As someone who's dealt with the public, I'm going with "client was full of shit").

maddiemookins16mum Sat 09-Nov-19 13:08:12

Unless you can answer the point about you ‘inviting’ the customers to drop in at any time, we can't say. A tiny part of me thinks there are two sides to this story.

Simonsaysitschristmas Sat 09-Nov-19 13:10:34

If you haven’t told the clients they can pop in any time, have you told the receptionist that you do t do this? The she will know the clients are fibbing and will be less likely to keep pestering you to go down and see them

lottiegarbanzo Sat 09-Nov-19 13:16:04

She's behaving incredibly unprosfessionaly in front of clients. Sounds like she hasn't been trained properly. That or she needs re-training.

In the end, it doesn't matter (to her) what you said to the client or what they believe - that's between you, the client and your boss. She needs to put on a professional gace and act as gatekeeper. So, listen to you and enact your requests. It is not up to her to try to manage your time.

fernandoanddenise Sat 09-Nov-19 13:16:31

“She’s a friendly receptionist with a caring and empathetic manner- which is so important and I value it- but I feel she needs training on how to ‘guard’ against people without appointments and training on how to politely say ‘no’ without losing control of her emotions”

lottiegarbanzo Sat 09-Nov-19 13:16:40

face not gace!

Quartz2208 Sat 09-Nov-19 13:19:24

Have you told her that you never say anyone can pop in and its appointment only

fernando is right she needs to learn how to deal with people who try pulling on her heart strings and that its appointment only

can she access appointments?

JemimaPuddleCat Sat 09-Nov-19 13:20:54

I'm going to guess you are a solictor/lawyer? And of course she's JUST a lowly receptionist.

SleepWarrior Sat 09-Nov-19 13:23:32

I agree, it all boils down to whether you've said that to clients or not. If you've told them to pop in then they will fully expect you to be available (possibly with a wait) when they arrive. They won't expect the receptionist to refuse to even call your office and tell you that they are here.

If you never said anything of the sort then I think she needs to be informed that sometimes clients try it on like that but she can be sure you won't have actually said "pop in any time" and to send them on their way.

Obviously her shouting and flouncing is extreme and not on (and possibly a disciplinary in itself), but the picture you paint is of one where I would imagine her to feel put in an impossible position so I think you probably need to take some responsibility.

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