5 rings before answer – most systems allow after hours messages to go directly into voicemail. You never know how busy (or patient) a caller is, so make it as easy as possible for them to leave a message.
Office hours, unless truly exceptional, should not be included in your outgoing message. Instead, use the 40 seconds (max!) as your opportunity to establish a truly unique and positive first impression.
Your message should include your tagline e.g. “Happy Valley Smiles, where our patients always leave smiling, and be enthusiastic and upbeat.”
Avoid dictating terms e.g. ‘This machine does not accept appointment changes.’ If you need to share information concerning your policies, do so with the patient’s benefit in mind e.g.:
“We ask that any appointment change requests be discussed with one of our team members, who will be happy to help you.”