After calling dozens of practices and talking to hundreds of receptionists over the years, I committed the ultimate sin.

I confess.

I kept a list of the most inappropriate, intriguing, or bizarre words and expressions I have heard when someone answered my call.

Take a deep breath and enjoy…

. Hello?

. Yellow!

. ABC Hospital (did you forget your first name?).

. Is this an emergency, or are you able to [CLICK].

. Huh?

. Doctor who?

. Who what now?

. Hang on.

. Hang on a sec, Hon.

. Hold on.

. Hold on a sec, Sweetie.

. What?

. Do what?

. Say what?

. What was that?

. Come again?

. Who’s calling?

. Let me see is she can pick you up (That just sounds weird)

. Let me grab him (Why would you do that?)

. Nah, she don’t come in til 12.

. He can’t talk to you; he’s in the bathroom.

. Thank you so much for calling ABC Animal Clinic and The Pampered Pet Resort, Grooming & Spa, where we treat your pet like our very own and where we have an outstanding promotion on heartworm preventives this week; this is Kimberly Sue; how may I provide you with amazing customer service on this lovely Tuesday afternoon?

If you are not sure about what clients hear when they call your practice, you could hire a mystery phone shopper. They would secretly call your practice and pose as a pet owner. They ask predetermined questions based on your needs. Then you can listen to the recorded call and solve communication, attitude, or knowledge issues.

Now, to be fair, most of the time, the person who picked up the phone was helpful, efficient, and professional. But where is the fun in that?

Yet it is so critical to sound professional when answering the phone. Clients will prejudge the quality of medicine you practice based on what they hear on the phone. And they haven’t even met you yet! Here are some of the most offending situations I’ve encountered.

Calling some hospitals can be frustrating. The line might be constantly busy, or the phone might ring endlessly, both of which are probably not good ways to manage a service-oriented business. Others clinics are reachable, but you are obligated to leave a message without talking to a human being.

And, of course, COVID has made all of that dramatically more challenging…

If you would like to learn how Chronos can help you and your team regain time and sanity, reach out to us. Simply click on the Discovery Call button above or visit

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free certified

Co-Founder of Chronos LLC