IN THIS ARTICLE:
- Introduction to phone trees
- Best Practices
- Phone tree templates
- Call forwarding
- How to set up a phone tree
- Make adjustments to an existing phone tree
Introduction to phone trees
A phone tree or auto attendant presents a caller with two or more options when they call your Spruce number. Adding a phone tree helps you triage inquiries, increase efficiency, and manage patient needs any time of day. Practices using Spruce commonly have two phone trees, one for clinic hours and one for after hours, set up to match their business schedule.
For example, if a caller dials your Spruce number during business hours they may hear:
Press 1 if you are a new patient, press 2 if you are an existing patient and would like to speak to a provider, press 3 if your question is related to billing.
If a caller dials your Spruce number after hours they may hear:
Press 1 if this is non-urgent and can be addressed the next business day, press 2 if this is urgent and you'd like to page the on-call provider.
Phone trees are available to customers on our Communicator plan ($49/user/month). Customers cannot create their own phone tree. Please continue reading this resource for directions on how to submit your phone tree request to Spruce Support so that it is configured and added to your account. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a detailed description of your phone tree flow and all the necessary audio files in an mp3 format. You can use this document as a template for how to describe your phone tree flow.
Phone tree best practices
When creating your phone tree be sure to have the patient experience in mind. Callers often find long greeting messages and multiple levels of options to be frustrating and we find that more complex phone trees have a higher instance of hang-ups (you will see these noted in the call record as a missed call with the notation [Start] showing that they hung up without making a selection). We suggest no more than four options for a standard phone tree, with only a 'Directory' option leading to additional options. The best approach to phone trees is to create them as a representation of your practice- if only one person is answering phones you may not need a phone tree; if two people are answering different types of calls you may only need two branches. We discourage customers from creating many branches that all route to the same staff person as this generally causes frustration for patients without helping your practice to organize. Feel free to ask us for advice on how best to set up your tree!
Phone trees can be an excellent organizational tool for your practice! We can set each option on the phone tree to auto-assign conversations to a specific team or staff member, this means those conversations would appear in a specific mailbox rather than in the All Inbox. Be sure to ask about this feature when setting up your phone tree!
Phone tree templates
These phone tree templates are meant to guide you so that you understand the parameters to design your phone tree. You do not need to follow these templates exactly, they only serve to provide examples of common ways customers outline their phone tree.
- Department by extension
- Team member by extension
- Language by extension
- Urgent escalation
Clinic hours templates
Department by extension
The following template is used to direct patients to a specific "department." It opens with a main greeting that welcomes callers to your practice and directs them to select an extension. You can outline you phone tree so that each extension rings a unique number or group of teammates, or so that a given extension does not ring, and instead goes directly to voicemail. Each extension can have a unique audio file for the voicemail greeting. In the example below, the voicemail greetings are outlined in the black text and white bubble background.
Team member by extension
The following template is used to direct patients to a specific staff member. It opens with a main greeting that welcomes callers to your practice and directs them to select an extension. Each extension can ring a different provider or group of providers. Each extension can have a unique audio file for the voicemail greeting. In the example below, the voicemail greetings are outlined in the black text and white bubble background.
Language phone tree
The following template is used to direct patients to different people and voicemail greetings based on their preferred language. It opens with a main greeting that welcomes callers to your practice and directs them to select an extension. Each extension can have a unique audio file for the voicemail greeting––so each extension has a voicemail greeting spoken in the specified language. In the example below, the voicemail greetings are outlined in the black text and white bubble background.
After hours template
The following template is used to direct patients to specific extensions that would notify you after hours. It opens with a main greeting that explains they have reached your practice after hours and it directs them to select an extension. In this example, the extensions are urgent and non-urgent. The non-urgent extension goes directly to voicemail, and the urgent extension rings the on-call doctor. A notification system can also be enabled so that the on-call doctor receives an SMS text notification indicating that an urgent voicemail has been left.
Once your phone tree is created, you will have a group for each extension which we call a Ring Group. Ring Groups define which phone(s) should ring when a certain phone tree extension is selected. This is to ensure that the right team member(s) is being reached. Ring Groups don't exist by default in your account, they are created for you by the Spruce Support team when they configure a phone tree on your account.
Each Ring Group contains a list of external phone numbers, VoIP phones, and/or teammates in your organization. You can manage which phones ring when a given phone tree extension is dialed by adjusting the phone numbers selected to ring in each Ring Group. To clarify, you can have a phone tree with just one or multiple Spruce business numbers. Team members are able to take calls from any extension directly on their cell phone or VoIP phone, as long as they're listed in the Ring Group for the specified extension. Each "item" (i.e., a VoIP phone, phone number, or teammate) in a Ring Group can be enabled or disabled individually.
For example, changing your Ring Group settings would allow you to do the following:
- Route calls to a different desk phone or person based on who's working in the office on a particular day.
- Ring the appropriate provider after-hours based on who is on-call for a given shift.
- Forward calls to a covering physician when a provider goes on vacation.
- Manage existing Ring Groups
- Select the Gear Icon to open your Settings.
- Select Ring Groups.
- Select + Add Number or + Add VOIP Phone or Teammate to add cell phone numbers, desk phones, or teammates. If you select a teammate, the cell phone number associated with that teammate's Spruce account will ring.
- Select the toggle to enable (blue) or disable (gray) any numbers.
- Select the Three Dots icon to the far right of each row to remove an item from a Ring Group.
- Simultaneous and sequential dialing
When you request to build your phone tree with Spruce Support, you can elect one of the two behaviors for each extension's Ring Group:
- Simultaneous ringing: all enabled numbers in the Ring Group will ring at the same time. The first person to pick up will connect with the caller; the other call attempts will be dropped once the call is answered.
- Sequential ringing: the enabled numbers in the Ring Group will ring one at a time, starting with the number that has gone the longest without answering a Spruce call, and skipping any numbers that are currently engaged in an active Spruce call. This is commonly known as Round Robin.
How to set up a phone tree
You will need to submit your request to create a phone tree to Spruce Support. You can verbalize your request through the Spruce Support channel in the Spruce App or via email: email@example.com. Please note, phone tree requests take 3-5 days for us to implement after we receive your request.
Submit a Phone Tree Request
Here is an example phone tree request:
"Hi, here is my phone tree request for clinic hours (M-F 8am-5pm PST) and after hours. The audio files (A-F) are attached.
Main greeting (audio file A) "You've reached Spruce Counseling. To speak with the front desk about scheduling, billing or other general questions, dial 1. To leave a message for Provider A press 2. To leave a message for Provider B, press 3. And for Provider C press 4. Thank you.
Extension 1 rings "front desk", extension 2 rings "provider A," extension 3 rings "provider B," extension 4 rings "provider C."
How to record and upload audio greetings
You can use a voice recording app (like Voice Memos on an iPhone or Mac) to record your audio files for each extension. Recordings can be in the .mp3, .wav, .mp4 or .m4a format.
The quality of your recordings will be apparent to your caller. Be sure to speak clearly without background noise, and please listen to the recording before sending it to Spruce to ensure your voice is audible.
To upload your recordings to Spruce, you must do this in the Spruce app on the web version. Navigate to Spruce on web and to Settings > Phone & SMS > Greetings & Prompts to upload all the recordings that you have created. Be sure to title the recordings appropriately with an adequate description that will make it easy for the Spruce Support team to identify which recording to use for what part of the phone tree. You can always navigate back to the Greetings & Prompts section to replace the audio file for any part of the phone tree in the future.
Replace audio files for an existing phone tree without changes to the structure
If you're looking to replace the audio files on an existing phone tree, without any changes to the phone tree structure, you can do so as follows:
- If you uploaded your recordings via the "Greetings & Prompts" section: you can simply replace the audio file on existing items under the Greetings & Prompts section to have the update be reflected in the appropriate phone tree. This section will show you where each of the files are being used (in what phone tree or for what phone number)
- If you shared your recordings via email or Spruce Support thread: you will need to email the updated audio files (in mp3 format) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edit an existing phone tree
Please submit all phone tree edits via email to email@example.com. Please note, phone tree updates take 2-5 days for us to implement after we receive your request.
Customers cannot edit an existing phone tree on their account. To edit an existing phone tree, please communicate the necessary edits to the Spruce Support team. If the edit entails replacing audio files, please send us the updated mp3 file(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org. If the edit requires changing part or all of the existing phone tree flow, please send us the new described flow, and the updated mp3 file(s) to email@example.com.
Switch manually between phone trees or remove a phone tree
Should you want to switch to a different phone tree such as moving to after-hours phone tree. If you would like to have a particular holiday greeting play instead of your after hours phone tree please send us the updated holiday recording to our email firstname.lastname@example.org, ideally send before the holiday so you are ready to switch it when you take the holiday. We recommend creating a generic 'Holiday Phone Tree' so that you can manually make this change when needed. We are not able to accommodate last minute phone tree changes prior to specific holidays.
Follow these steps to manually override your clinic hours phone tree to play your after hours or holiday phone tree on holidays and other times your office is closed. Note instructions below are for web but you can do this on your Spruce mobile app as well.
1. Open Settings, select Phone & SMS and select the Spruce number you want to edit.
2. Scroll down to Phone Tree and select Edit.
3.Here you can toggle between phone trees, remove the phone tree entirely, and turn off or on your practice hours.
4. If you toggle to a new phone tree and leave practice hours, the next day it will switch back to the phone tree following the schedule
5. If you toggle to a new phone tree and turn off practice hours, it will continue with that phone tree until you manually turn back on practice hours or switch the phone tree.
6. If you remove the phone tree entirely, you must edit the numbers to ring (instead of Ring Groups) to have calls route to the right person. Additionally, you can now update your voicemail without the Support team by going on your Spruce mobile app, Settings, Phone and SMS, select the number and record the voicemail there.