Auto-Attendant Basics – part 1

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In this series we’ll be focusing on the customer experience as it relates to telephone communications; specifically to using, planning, and creating a voice directed automated attendant. You will receive a complete blueprint with explanations to structure your messages that you can implement at little or no cost.

Whether you choose to hire us to professionally script and record your company’s custom messages or if you decided to do-it-yourself, we’ll provide tips and best practice advice explaining how your business can better project a competent professional image to customers and prospects over the phone.


Auto-Attendant part I

In part I of this series we will cover the basics:

  • What is an auto-attendant
  • What are the advantages of using an auto-attendant
  • Why K.I.S.S. your main greeting

 What’s an Auto Attendant?

An auto attendant is a virtual receptionist; A function built into business class phone systems. Instead of a human operator that answers and transfers calls, the customer calling your business is empowered to choose how their call is routed by making a selection based on prerecorded prompt options. A basic auto attendant can transfer a call to an extension, to voicemail, to recorded information, or to a message with a new set of prompt options. 

Have you made the decision to use an auto-attendant? Your company needs an edge, and how your phone is answered is a critical place to start. 

Consider this real-life example: A company I recently worked with had a “live answer only” policy, thinking it was more pleasing its callers. But with four salespeople answering the phone, callers only had a 25 percent chance of their specific salesperson answering the call. If the salesperson the caller wants to talk with doesn’t answer the phone, it means the customer will experience hold time, a call transfer, and will likely have to leave a message.

Without a dedicated receptionist, a caller’s experience will be different every time. And that’s a difficult environment for making your company stand out!

Here’s where you can gain an edge. Using an auto-attendant solution, your callers intuitively take control over how their call is connected and provides them with a precision experience because they reach exactly the right person or department 100% of the time.

Another benefit is that using a well designed auto-attendant limits interruptions and distractions for your employees. ‘Interruption science’ research at NPR states that every time a phone call takes your employee off task, it takes up to ten minutes for them to recover. Once employees no longer have to handle calls for co-workers, they’ll be able to stay more focused on the task at hand.

Efficiency and projecting the right image for your business is vital. Get it right and you’ll attain more customers, acquire additional, sales and amass greater profits.


Step 1 – The Greeting

Just like a live receptionist, the first function of your auto attendant should be to greet callers. A simple introduction using the company name is all that’s needed. Optionally, you could also add the company tagline or a brief description of what you do. The secret here is K.I.S.S. (keep it short & simple) callers don’t want to linger through a verbal tour of your business. They want to reach their goal quickly.

 You have reached The Acme Company, manufacturing quality widgets since 1948…

Unless your company/industry requires a compliance statement, the next part of your greeting, before moving onto the prompt options should inform callers that a known extension can be dialed without further delay.


…If you know your parties extension you may dial it at any time…

We’ll continue this auto attendant series in the next edition of ComTips and go into detail about how to make prompts specific to the needs of your callers and provide a blueprint that will:

  • Be easy for your callers to navigate
  • Make your call flow more efficient by accurately routing calls and avoiding manual transfers
  • Project a rock-solid professional image of your organization and its capabilities.

Click here for part II

About the Author:

Jeff Wilson advises businesses and organizations about optimizing their telephony communication systems and develops custom professionally voiced messages that project a polished image for every caller. You can reach him using the, 'support' email link found on the contact page.
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