Auto Attendant 101

What is the first interaction you usually have with a business? In most cases, a phone call.

As a small business owner, you want to make sure that when customers contact you, they are met with professionalism and efficiency. A perfect, not overly-expensive, solution to this is an auto attendant (or UM auto attendant).

What Exactly Is an Auto Attendant?

Getting in contact with a business can prove to be challenging. It is, in fact, very common for people to hang up before they even get to talk to a real person, just because of frustration. With an auto attendant, however, you can solve this problem, by directing your future customers to the department or person they are looking for.

Customers are presented with a menu of different options that they can select, including different departments within the business.

Menus such as “Press 1 for Customer Service, Press 2 for Manager” are common examples of this advanced phone feature. Once presented with these options, the customer picks whichever he/she prefers, by pressing the corresponding button on their device’s keypad or by speaking the number. After the pick, the auto attendant transfers the call through an interactive voice response (IVR).

The auto attendant also provides callers with information related to business hours and location. If a caller, however, doesn’t want to engage with the auto attendant, in many cases they can press 0 or follow the auto attendant’s instructions to speak directly with a real person.

Auto attendants help lessen callers’ frustrations by connecting them with the right person. They also decrease the amount of unnecessary transfers between departments, making businesses lives easier, as well. Auto attendants are a huge help for both you and your customers.

What are the Perks of an Auto Attendant?

No more missed calls: With auto attendants you won’t miss your customers’ calls. This is crucial in keeping the relationship between them and your business healthy. Auto attendants pick up calls even when you’re not there, directing and helping those in need.

More professional: Auto attendants give your business a sense of credibility and professionalism. In contrary to our civil lives, looks matter a lot in the business world. What is a better first contact with a customer, than the auto attendant?

Consistency: Consistency is key in business. You want to deliver the same, high quality of goods or services, regardless of your industry. The same way, you also want to deliver high quality customer service every time.

Affordable: “Employing” an auto attendant is a great deal. It decreases the necessity of a receptionist or customer service rep, while always being available and delivering a consistent quality in services. Auto attendants can also allow your otherwise preoccupied employees to do something else productive with their times.

Customizable: You can customize menus, greetings, and messages, to your exact needs, thus maximizing the auto attendant’s abilities.

How to Install and Maintain Auto Attendants?

Most auto attendants come with instructions on how to set up your new, virtual employee. Here’s what you need:

Create a call directory: The best thing you can do is to create a list of departments that a caller might want to reach. Once the list has been created, assign all departments a phone number (or extension if needed).

Give customers what they might want: Added as part of your greeting or placed under a separate directory; information is extremely useful. Your customers might be interested in your hours of operation, holiday hours, address, etc. Making this information available to them will hugely improve your relationship with your customers.

Straight to the point: Customers can get frustrated with having to wait too long before having their questions answered. Keeping your messages brief and having only a couple of items in the call-menu can improve the caller’s experience exponentially.

Keep directory up-to-date: A growing business may develop additional departments. Make sure that you keep adding these to your auto attendant to ensure quality customer service.

Keep message up-to-date: Similarly to the aforementioned situation, a growing business may require an updated message/greeting to ensure your desired outcomes of using an auto attendant.

If you find yourself struggling with ideas for the greeting message, feel free to use one of the many available scripts that can be found here.


Gregory Robel