Adding an automated phone attendant

Determine whether it's a good idea to add an automated phone attendant to help front office staff.

Q: I'm thinking of adding an automated phone attendant to help my front office staff. Is this a good idea?

A: Be careful about an automated attendant to replace a staff member. Many people, including other physicians, hate these things.

Many practices will answer up to four lines with two staff members; when all those lines are in use, the auto attendant comes on. This is a hybrid solution and is much better than all calls going to an attendant. Many practices that have lots of options from which the caller selects lose them in the process. Don't give more than about three options, and if the call then goes to voicemail, then return it within about 2 hours.

Answer provided by Judy Bee of Practice Performance Group, La Jolla, California. Send your practice management questions to

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