Business Phone System Considerations
If you run a small business or a medium-sized business, then you already know that you need a good phone system in place if you want your business to grow. But what’s the best way to stay connected with your customers and employees? What features do you really need in a business phone system?
With so many features and options available, it can get downright confusing when trying to sort through all of your options, understand what is what, and figure out which phone system capabilities make the most sense for you and your business. Take the auto attendant feature, for example. It goes by lots of names in the industry, including virtual attendants, automated receptionists, digital receptionists, etc. Do all those names really mean the same thing? What exactly is an auto attendant?
What an Auto Attendant is?
If you’re a business that receives a large number of inbound calls, then you need an effective way to answer and properly direct all of those calls in a timely manner. And even if you’re a small business that doesn’t receive a ton of calls (yet), if you’re in growth mode, you need a scalable system that can manage a large volume of calls. That’s where an auto attendant can prove to be especially valuable.
An auto attendant is an automated phone system that serves to help connect incoming callers to the appropriate party, including answering calls, routing & transferring calls, and giving the option for the caller to leave a voicemail if necessary. In other words, an automated attendant is really a first-response digital receptionist that’s able to receive and transfer calls without any need for a human operator.
How an Auto Attendant Works
Whenever a current customer or prospective customer calls your business, a recorded greeting gives the caller a series of menu options. Once the caller chooses a menu option number, the auto attendant transfers the call to the indicated department, team, or individual agent at your business. Even though some other functionalities can be included, the auto attendant system is essentially as simple as that.
This streamlined order of incoming call operations can make a big difference for your business. Research indicates that a significant percentage of customers can be transferred between reps without ever receiving a solution to their problem. And customers really don’t like to waste time going through a maze of hit-and-miss transfers. They prefer to be able to access a direct line to the most relevant resource, and they appreciate being connected quickly.
Some Specific Features & Benefits of Having an Auto Attendant
Modern auto attendant systems offer a number of attractive features and capabilities, including the following:
- Answer incoming calls with a standardized greeting message
- Offer prompts for call transfer and routing options
- Share general business information announcements
- Provide an automated, searchable directory of company extensions
- Include on-hold messaging capabilities
- Give the option to leave a voicemail when the desired party isn’t available
- Present a system menu that’s easy to understand and simple to navigate
Are an Auto Attendant and an IVR the Same Thing?
Not exactly. A hosted interactive voice response (or IVR) is a more advanced version of an auto attendant system. While an auto attendant is little more than a digital receptionist and call routing service, an IVR can serve as a more robust self-help tool for your customers. In addition to receiving and directing calls, an IVR can help automate customer operations like getting more information about a particular product or service or placing an order. The IVR is connected to a database so that it’s able to provide more tailored customer interactions based on the voice or key responses the customer inputs. And an AI-empowered virtual assistant can even serve as a real-time contact point to help answer queries and troubleshoot problems for customers.
Best Tips & Practices for Utilizing an Auto Attendant for Your Business
In order to gain full benefit from having an auto attendant system, you have to be intentional about your setup and implementation practices. Here is some sound advice for increasing your levels of customer satisfaction with your auto attendant.
1. Keep Everything Short, Sweet, & Relevant
Keep your recorded greeting as short as possible, and limit the number of menu options. The goal here is to make everything short, clear, and relevant. This will save time for your user and should help to reduce your call abandonment rates as well.
2. Make It Sound Both Friendly & Professional
Speaking of greetings, don’t use robot-greeting. Go with a warm, professional, human voice to record your greetings. Lead your voice actor to model and reflect the tone and character that you want to portray with your business. AI has come a long way, but callers will still respond better to a real human voice than to a computer-generated voice.
3. Be Sure to Keep Information Updated & Accurate
Since your auto attendant is your first line of contact for many incoming callers, it’s essential that the information presented is accurate. Any time there’s a change in your business – like business hours, office locations, website links, employee extensions, etc. – make sure to update your auto attendant as well.
4. List Your Menu Options in Order of Customer Importance & Priority
One primary goal of using an auto attendant is to save your callers precious time. Resist the urge to include sales pitches in your top menu, and focus on listing menu options in priority of the most-requested information by your callers instead. Be sure to frontload these items at the top of your menu list in the interest of boosting the overall customer experience.
5. Always Give the Option to Be Connected with a Live Human
Even though there are many business benefits that go along with instituting an auto attendant, you never want to completely eliminate the option of speaking with a real human. For some issues, only a live agent of your company will do, and in those cases, you certainly want to make that option available to your callers. To that end, having live staff available to interact with callers who truly need them will increase the level of customer satisfaction for your business.
Looking for a Good Auto Attendant Solution for Your Business? IDeACOM NC Can Help!
IDeACOM NC offers communications solutions for residences, small businesses, medium-sized businesses, enterprise-level corporations, and everything in between. Our team of professionals is ready to help you choose whatever business phone systems, hosted phones, VoIP phones, or cloud phone systems you may need. We’re happy to offer product solutions from iPECS, Vertical, NEC, Zultys, Plantronics, Polycom, and Avaya, and we install and train on every solution we provide.
Why choose IDeACOM NC?
IDeACOM NC is your #1 local source for both residential and business communication and technology solutions. From our Kernersville, NC headquarters, we’re well-positioned to serve all of North Carolina, from the mountains to the coast. We can provide phone and communications systems to meet any need, and we’ll be here for you anytime you have a question or need some support.
IDeACOM NC is a member of one of the largest telecommunications alliances in North America, and we’ve logged over 60 years of experience in the industry. We’d be glad to put our knowledge and experience to work for you! You can connect with us online at IDeACOM NC, or for a faster response, just give us a call at (336) 854-4455 today!