When used well, Auto Attendants (AA) can be a great tool to direct callers to the best person to help them quickly and efficiently, can make a company appear much larger than it actually is, and can save on staffing costs as it can help out a receptionist to screen calls.However, we've all had experience of making a phone call and having to go through so many options that by the time you get to speak with someone, you’re already a little frustrated….. so here are a few helpful tips to make the most of them.Just to quickly explain what an auto attendant (AA) is, this is when you call someone and you hear ‘press 1 for sales, 2 for service, etc.’ or you are asked ‘if you know the extension you wish to dial please do so now.’
- Decide on a sensible number of options based on size of companyAs said above, for me this is an important one; decide if you need just a single menu or sub menus as well, and try to keep them as short as possible. Not only will a caller become frustrated if they have to navigate through a series of menus with lots of options, but every caller in the AA will be taking up one of your lines…
- Give them a ‘get out’Even if you think of every option, guaranteed there will be a caller that is unsure of which category they fall into, so it is always useful to have a final option to speak directly to reception. In addition, many callers will press ‘0’ if they want to speak straight to reception, so ensure that the ‘0’ key has a function!
- Write a script, practice, and be professionalIt may sound obvious but practice reading a script out loud and in front of somebody! If you are struggling for what to say, let us know and we can provide an example script. Once the message is recorded make sure to listen to it back, check the quality and make sure it’s audible for other people outside of the company (and possibly in other areas if you have a strong accent).
- Put the most likely options at the frontWork out what most of your inbound calls are for, and put these options at the front, see point 1 for reasons why!
- Professional voice over artist, or in house?If you’ve done it yourself and are unhappy with the results, or do not feel confident using your own voice, it could be worth using a professional voice over artist. There are plenty of companies that will record a message inexpensively and if you do want help let us know and we can put you in touch with some recommended companies.
- Work out the groups that each option will ringA sure fire way to agitate the person calling is for someone to answer the phone and then have to transfer them elsewhere as they have been diverted to the wrong area.Decide which handsets will ring based on each option chosen, and more importantly, decide what will happen if no one in that group is available; will the caller be put on hold, will it be diverted to reception, or will it be sent to voicemail? Depending on the phone system, it will display information on the screen as to which option the caller has selected so if it does overflow to a different area the operator can still answer the call knowing who the caller wants to speak to.
- Auto Attendant or IVRAn IVR is an ‘interactive voice response’ and is a more advanced version of an AA in that it makes use of speech recognition software. IVR’s are very useful for simple yes or no responses, and can often save time where there would be too many options to list – however they can frustrate callers somewhat. Decide on which is the better system to use but in many cases, simple is best.
- Day/Night/Holiday ModeAn important but often overlooked one, have different recordings based on the office being open or shut. Should there still be options or should it go straight to voicemail with information that the offices are closed? There’s nothing more frustrating than going through all the options to then be told that you can’t speak to somebody!Auto Attendants can be great when used properly – make sure to follow the above tips and if there’s any that you think I’ve missed do let me know!
If you have any other questions on the use of an Auto Attendant please do tweet us @TimeTele