Have you ever called the main line at your office to see how it is answered? Are you placed on hold? Is your staff friendly? Can you understand what they say?

The voice on the other end of the phone is often a patient’s first interaction with your office. They start forming an opinion of the practice based on this experience. So, let’s make it a great one!  Use this list of “Dos” and “Don’ts” to improve the impression of your office.

-Answer the phone with hello, the practice name, the person’s name, and “how may I help you?” Ex: “Hello. Dr. Baker’s office, this is John.  How may I help you?”
-Speak slowly and clearly.
-Smile while on the phone. It sounds silly, but it works.  Put a mirror in front of the person answering phone so they can be sure they are smiling.
-Consider developing a phone script to help staff answer common questions.  The script could also include key words that alert staff that a call may be urgent.
-Develop a voicemail script and have each staff member create their own voicemail recording.  Return messages by the end of the day.
-Limit the amount of time callers are put on hold.  If they must be put on hold, add value to that time by educating them about your practice. See tips here.
-Call the office occasionally to ensure that staff consistently answers the phone in a helpful and friendly manner.
-Answer the phone in front of your staff and set a great example. They’ll feel good that you are helping and they get some training by listening to you.
-Encourage staff and compliment them for being friendly on the phone.


-Answer the phone with just the doctor’s name/clinic name.  Don’t answer the phone with “doctors office.”
-Greet the caller so quickly that they can’t understand what was said.
-Ever, ever answer the phone with “hold please.”  If a caller absolutely must be put on hold before finding out what they need, at least use the aforementioned greeting with “will you please hold?” in the place of “how may I help you?”
-Transfer a caller to voicemail without letting them know that the person they are calling for is unavailable. Ask if someone else could help them.
-Use an automated system if it can be avoided.  A friendly human being is always appreciated much more than a phone tree.

Answering the phone should be common sense. Be friendly. Speak clearly. Treat callers like their time and call are important.