Actual (well, maybe slightly fictionalized) transcript of about twenty billion conversations I’ve had while cheerfully and efficiently booking appointments for clients (No, really, I’m very efficient. And generally cheerful, or at least painstakingly professional. Shut up. I am.):
Me: Thank you for calling [place of employment], this is [my name].
Voice on the other end of the phone (we’ll call her “Client” for brevity): I’d like to make an appointment.
Me: Sure, for what service?
Client: A pedicure.
Me: Do you need a particular day or time?
Me: I have Thursday at 11am or 2:30pm.
Client: Oh, I wanted something in September.
Me: Did you have a day in mind?
Me: I have Thursday the 2nd available at 10, 1, or 3:30.
Client: I was looking for something around the 14th or so.
Me: OK… I have the 14th at noon, 2:00, 2:45, or 4:30.
Client: Well, I don’t get out of work until 5.
Me: So what time could you be here for?
Client: Well, 5:30. Unless there’s traffic. So 5:45. Except on Tuesdays. Tuesdays, little Bratley has croquet lessons until 6:30. And Thursdays, Princess has ballet until 6, then violin until 8. She’s a wonderful violin player. But we don’t get home until 8:30, and I supposed you’re closed by then. Wednesdays, my husband works from home, so he can bring them to underwater basket weaving lessons. So I guess I can do a Wednesday. As long as it isn’t the 8th. I have a suspicious mole I’m getting looked at. It may require surgery. The doctor’s going to tell me, but I think it’s just from my vacations in the south of France when I was a child. So it’s probably nothing.
… So, a Wednesday, mid-September, after 5:45?
Client: That’s what I said, isn’t it?
Me: I have Wednesday the 15th at 6pm.
Client: Perfect. I’ll take it.
(I take her name and phone number)
Me: So, that’s a pedicure, Wednesday, September 15th at 6 pm.
Client: Oh, and my sister’s coming, too.
Me: Can you please hold? *puts call on hold, smashes handset against desk several times while muttering old Yiddish curses. Takes call off of hold* Thank you for holding. I’m sorry, I was only looking for one appointment. I don’t have two available together that evening. Would you like me to check the following week?
Client: I guess.
Me: OK, I do have two pedicures available on Wednesday the 22nd at 5:45. Would that work?
(I take her sister’s information as well)
Client: Wait, is mine with Jane? I want to see Jane. Or Anna.
Me: Um, no. It wasn’t. Hang on a minute and I’ll check their schedules…OK, your appointment is with Jane, and your sister is with Anna. OK, so that’s TWO pedicures, Wednesday, September 22nd at 5:45, you’ll be seeing Jane, and your sister will be seeing Anna.
Client: Oh, we’re going to get massages too that night.
Coworker: What was that?
Other coworker: I think her head just exploded. Her brain seems to be splattered against the wall.
How do we make my head not explode when booking appointments?
1. Tell me what you’re making an appointment for. If you’re calling the dentist, say that you’re booking for your cleaning or to get a cavity filled, or if calling the doctor, say it’s because you think you have the flu. If you want a pedicure or a haircut, tell me!
2. Give me the correct information when I ask. If you need a Wednesday after 5:45, when I ask, “Do you need a particular day or time?” THAT would be the time to tell me.
3. Give me ALL the information. Two people want appointments together? Let me know before I start looking. Do you want more than one service? Again, earlier in the conversation is better.
4. I don’t give a flying rat’s ass about your job, your kids, your husband, or your health problems. Just tell me when you can be here and/or when you can’t. Don’t tell me why.
5. Want a particular technician/hygienist/doctor? TELL ME THAT.
6. Don’t assume I have ESP. Seriously. I can’t read your mind. And based on our conversation, I really don’t want to.
In short, be polite. Be concise. Be specific. The person on the other end of the phone will thank you for it.