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One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy


A doctor looks to shorten his ring time.

Dr. James Randolph, owner of Animal General Hospital in Long Beach, Miss., recently called another practice after hours to leave a message for his colleague to retrieve the next morning. After 10 rings, Dr. Randolph assumed the practice had no answering system—but then the machine finally picked up.

Putting himself in a client's place, Dr. Randolph wondered what he would have done if he'd been calling about a bleeding, seizing, or crying pet. Would he have waited through 10 rings? "And if I didn't want to wait to get machine-delivered, after-hours instructions," he says, "would I feel that this was the practice for me?"

So when Dr. Randolph's practice switched from an answering machine that answered on the first ring to an electronic system that answered on the third, he insisted that the installer improve the performance. Now it responds after two rings, pleasing Dr. Randolph and his clients. "The longer we're in practice, the harder it is to see ourselves from the client's point of view," he says. "Yet it never ceases to be crucial that we try."

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