I’m a Buyer.

Buyer sounds like such a fancy title, someone who travels to exotic locales to find the exquisite and unique items for the shop. Or someone who goes out into the fields and looks over the crops to decide what’s going to be in the grocery store.

Being a hospital buyer involves a lot of talking on the phone. About five or six hours a day. Maybe three of those hours are talking to endusers, the people I’m buying stuff for.

The other three of those hours are talking to the people I buy stuff from. The vendor’s Customer Service Department.

Well, after I get through the automated voices and the hold music.

There are the unprofessional CSRs, sure enough, who chew gum in my ear and mumble and all that good stuff. The majority have nice, smooth, modulated voices. Professional talkers. They give good phone.

They are as insulated from the realities of the items as I am. An order for a case of external cranial drainage catheters is just a line of text on both our computer monitors. But I think the professional CSR has the same thing in the back of their head that I do– this is important. This could save someone’s life.

It could save someone’s life… if it’s on the shelf when the nurse or the doctor turn to grab it. It’s my job to get it here. It’s the CSR’s job to get it to me.

So we’re serious at each other. Professional. We waste little time. The CSR gives good phone. I give it right back.

And with a few keystrokes, a box is packaged up and tossed on a plane and then on a truck and then in a warehouse and then on a cart and then to a patient room, where a doctor or nurse turns around and grabs it and uses it to help someone.

That’s the end result of the phone call I make. A lot of the phone calls follow a similar pattern. I could probably write you a script and outsource 50% of my calls to you right now with no other training.

When we go off-script, well, that’s where it gets exciting. The ugliest phrase ever is “backordered with no release date”.

Sometimes, though, we go off-script for a different reason. I think every buyer has a different trigger. Mine is if the CSR laughs.

Because then I take it as a personal challenge. Can I make the CSR laugh again? Can I get the job done, and still have a moment of shared humanity, a bright spot in a day of calls that are “need, need, need”?

Not the most efficient use of my time, nor the CSRs. But it’s the most fun.

And they get double bonus points if they make me laugh in return.

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One Response to I’m a Buyer.

  1. Padre Mickey says:

    I was an Electronics Buyer for several years, until I was promoted to Purchasing Agent (oh, Mater, I’m off to play the Grand Piano!).
    Now I’m jussa Padre de la Iglesia.

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