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March 19, 2005 12:34 AM

Broken: Doctor's office voice mail

Lois Ambash gives suggestions for how to improve the voice-mail greeting of a doctor's office. Link


I think what is really broken is not analyzing the incoming calls and providing information accordingly. For example, when you call a restaurant, probably 50-60% of calls want hours of operations or directions. These don't require any interactivity, so they can be part of the initial prompt. Almost all of the rest of the calls are for reservations, which can be done very simply (just dial the time you want: 7-3-0 for 7:30, and then press the number of people in your party, and finally say your party name).

Posted by: Robby Slaughter at March 19, 2005 04:48 AM

I've got 14+ years experience working in medical insurance and, now medical billing. I once called a similiar phone answering system that listed several similar options then said "If this is an emergency, press number 5."

Now that's broken. Too late? So sorry. Better luck in your next life.

Posted by: hamitup at March 19, 2005 02:49 PM

My hate list concerning automated answering systems:

1. Some of them don't give you the option of talking to a live person by pressing '0'. If you can't find what you want in the menu, you are out of luck!

2. There have been several times where I carefully followed the menu options, and was lead right back to where I started!

3. Some systems require that you be using a touch-tone phone. If you are using a dial phone (Yes, they still exist!), you are out of luck. They don't even have a "Wait and an operator will answer your call" option.

Posted by: Gary Edstrom at March 20, 2005 10:11 AM

My hate list concerning automated answering systems (Continued):

4. There are some people that are just not technically minded enough to work their way through automated systems. My elderly mother is quite competent enough to make a doctor's appointment on her own if she could just talk to a live person. She can't figure out how to do it. So I handle all of her doctor's appointments calls, as well as other calls that involve automated systems.

5. To me, automated systems are saying: "We don't care enough about you as a customer to handle your call personally.

Posted by: Gary Edstrom at March 20, 2005 10:47 AM

My hate list concerning automated answering systems (Continued):

6. The WORST automated system I have ever run into: A couple of years ago, I called 911 from my cell to report a fire. A recording came on and said that all operators were busy and that my call would be answered in the order received. Fortunately, I had the direct number to the local fire department coded on my cell phone and got through that way.

Posted by: Gary Edstrom at March 20, 2005 11:07 AM

Yep, 911 putting people on hold is by far the worst. And most times they don't have more than two or three lines, so someone calling about their cat locked in their closet/their bumper having a crack that wasn't there before they parked/some kids destroying the pumpkin carvings on their porch are taking up the room of a real emergency.

How do people put up with this? I'd just hang up if I got a call like that.

Posted by: Ilan at March 20, 2005 07:19 PM

Here's a voicemail system from a major company that's well, a bit different. Enjoy!

The WD40 company: 1(800)448-9340

Try it. You'll wonder if it's too much the other direction.

Posted by: J at March 21, 2005 12:54 PM

I'm amazed that the message didn't start with the number one phrase that virtually every phone system I'm ever encountered does: "Please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed..."

Posted by: Alan at March 23, 2005 02:00 AM

That WD40 company number is hilarious.

Posted by: Lukesed at March 24, 2005 11:50 AM

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