“Hello, (insert OB’s office here)…how can I help you?”
Customer Service is a tough job. Especially when you’re dealing with pregnant women and raging hormones. It requires a boat load of patience and compassion. DAILY. And you, (a generally kind and understanding receptionist/office manager/etc.), might be having a bad day. Your toilet might have backed up this morning. Your child, despite being told 50 times to put her boots on, might have refused to do so and missed the bus. A cyclist might have cut you off and given you the finger on your way to work. Whatever the scenario, you arrived to work, late and disgruntled. And that happens. To the best of us.
The person on the other end of the line does not deserve to be punished for your bad day. The woman who calls at 4:45pm because she hasn’t heard back yet about her blood results (despite being told they would be in at noon), she does not deserve that “tone”. The woman who had three previous miscarriages and is now seeing blood in herunderwear at 20 weeks; should not be rushed, put on hold, or told that someone will get back to her within an hour.
Too many of my clients have shed tears of frustration and embarrassment over phone calls with other women, who manage their OB’s front offices. My clients have a history of previous pregnancy loss or years of infertility and they are just plain anxious, all the time. This should have been noted during their initial meeting with the OB. The fact is, not all pregnancies are created equal. Some clients are just going to be higher maintenance. They are going to call, a lot. They are going to need gentle, calm, reassurance. They are going to need someone to listen to them and not imply that their calls are an annoyance. We all know “that” inflection, the “Well, are you actually having any symptoms? We don’t usually have people come in for that, (SIGH). I’ll have to check with the doctor and see if she can get back to you, but I would just try not to worry about it…”
Fact: Pregnant women love ultrasounds. They want to see that baby any chance they can get. They want double and triple reassurance that the little heart is still beating. Sometimes this leads to phone calls to the OB that do not warrant an ultrasound – TRUE. Yes, this can get annoying fast, especially if you’re hearing from that pregnant woman every other day. So this is where I urge you to make a plan. Keep track of those clients who are calling every day. Have a team meeting. Acknowledge that these women are going to need extra support. Let people vent but keep the focus on how best to give your clients the most compassionate experience possible. This means really looking at the need to be “right.” Remember, it’s not always about being right, it’s about being kind. You have a lot of power in the words you choose. Choose carefully.
1. OB’s – take a look at your intake forms. Are there ways to ask more/different questions about current emotional functioning?
2. If the client states that she has a history of Infertility, Anxiety or Depression, flag this for follow up with the team.
3. If anxious behavior emerges over time and ramps up, talk to the client personally about a plan to help her relax. Include suggestions for talk therapy, pre-natal yoga, pre-natal massage, meditation, pregnancy support groups, daily exercise, and nutrition. Talk about the importance of sleep and getting enough of the right kind.
4. Have relevant articles/magazines on hand in the office, or suggest other resources she can follow up on. Offer something tangible she can walk out with.
There are so many wonderful OB’s and Nurse Case Managers out there and people are usually just trying to do the best they can. But it never hurts to strive to do better, to understand more deeply, to try and connect on a human level. ALWAYS. Don’t be that person who leaves another feeling angry and defeated. After all, you know how that feels – that guy on the bike really was an asshole.
Lindsay Agne, LICSW
Full Circle Fertility