Saturday, January 7, 2012

Voicemail use - a primer

My office, like most veterinary hospitals I'm sure, has voicemail. We have an outgoing message along the general lines of "You have reached World's Best Veterinary Hospital. We are not available to answer the phone. Our office hours are (time) to (time) on (days). If you have an emergency or need to speak with a specific doctor urgently, please call (answering service number, where clients can arrange for a callback or receive emergency clinic information). Otherwise, for routine business, please leave a message after the beep." Seems straightforward enough, doesn't it? But oh, the huge manatee - it apparently is not. So, without further ado, a list of:

The VBB's Dos and Don'ts for voicemail. 

DO: leave your name, your pet's name, any additional identifying information, and a valid phone number. "Hi, this is Mr. John Jacobjingleheimerschmidt, spelled like it sounds. My dog JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt (his name is my name too) is due for an annual exam. Please call me at (actual working phone number) to let me know if Tuesday the 5th at 4 PM works. Thank you."
DO NOT: leave a long drawn out message about your extremely ill pet, identified only as "Smokey," include your first name only, and request a call back "at my home number if you call before 9:01 AM, but my cell number between 9:01 and 9:23, and my work number after 9:23 until 4:30 PM but then go back to cell," without leaving any actual phone numbers.

DO: explain the problem and desired action clearly and concisely. "My dog has had several episodes of explosive diarrhea. I'd like you to call and advise me if  I should bring him in or if you can prescribe something."
DO NOT: start talking about how your dog had diarrhea all over the rug and then you had to go to the store and get carpet cleaner and then you just had it cleaned up when suddenly he let loose again and then there was diarrhea on the sofa as well as the carpet and boy was your husband mad and also he isn't eating, but he hardly ever really eats that much so that's not so much a concern except for the vomiting he did four or five times yesterday but that was on the tile floor so it wasn't important and BEEEEEEEEEEEP.

DO: follow instructions in our outgoing message regarding how to handle emergency situations, and follow up with the answering service or head directly to an emergency clinic if the problem is, you know, EMERGENT.
DO NOT: leave a recorded, middle-of-the-night message like "Hi, this is Notta, Notta Lottabrayne. I'm calling about my Australian Boomerhound, Dumasz. I think you have him under the name of Sumguy, not Lottabrayne. Anyway, I think he's actively dying. If you could please give me a call back when you get this, I would appreciate it. I need to know what to do. Thank you."

DO: Be polite. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. "Hi, this is Ms. Calmreasonable. My dog Chowhound is vomiting and I wonder if he picked something up in the boarding kennel. I'd like to bring him in and discuss this. I can be reached at (number). Thank you."
DO NOT: Leave a message full of abuse and obscenity, such as "I picked my dog up last week from your kennel and he was FINE before I took him there and he seemed fine for three days afterwards and today he vomited and you damn well better pay to have my fucking carpet cleaned and I'm going to be there in 20 minutes and you fucking well better give me the medicine free, too, or I will badmouth you on the internet."

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