Auto Attendant: Why Your Business Phone System Needs It?

Called a business and addressed by an automated answering service? Sound familiar? Undoubtedly, you must have encountered an auto attendant a number of times. So what exactly is an auto-attendant? Why do businesses use it? What benefits does it offer to businesses? Let’s discuss this.

What is an Auto Attendant?

auto-attendant setupAlso known as IVR i.e. Interactive Voice Response, an auto-attendant is an automated answering service that primarily does the job of directing customer calls to the right agent or department of a business. Auto-attendants are one of the telephony features used by businesses of all shapes and sizes. Today, most business phone systems have an IVR feature integrated within them.

KloudTalk’s auto-attendant is built with a multi-level hosted IVR system which means it can create sub-menus to present callers with intuitive menu options so that they can connect with sales, support, operations, and other departments. KloudTalk’s IVR has an intelligent call routing feature that patches customer calls with the right departments and thus adds to the efficiency of the whole process.

How Does an Auto Attendant Work?

auto attendant levels

The working of an auto-attendant follows some steps, as mentioned below:

Call Arrives 

The call is initiated by the caller by dialing the business phone number of the company. The call is received by the auto attendant. 

Caller is Greeted

The auto attendant starts the conversation by greeting the caller through a pre-recorded audio message. 

Menu is Presented

After greetings, the caller is presented with menu options by the auto attendant. These options are predefined and can be in the form of press 1 for sales, press 2 for support, press 3 for delivery, etc. 

Caller Provides the Input

After listening to the menu options, the caller responds by selecting the desired option from their phone’s keypad. 

Call is Directed 

Upon receiving input from the caller, the auto attendant directs the call to the intended destination which could be an individual agent or department. In case, the destination is busy, the caller is put in the call queue by the auto attendant and listens to the hold music till his turn arrives. 

Overflow and Fallback Options

In case the destination is not available to take the call, the caller is provided with other options like voicemail or provided with alternate options for further assistance. 

Benefits of Using an Auto Attendant

Improved Call Handling

The biggest advantage of implementing an auto attendant in business communication is that it simply eliminates the need of hiring a human receptionist or a live operator. An auto attendant ensures prompt response to incoming calls as well as ensures that callers receive a timely response every single time. 

Enhanced Professionalism

With a human receptionist, a company cannot expect 100% consistency and professionalism for all their calls. The call-handling response of a human receptionist may depend on various factors such as incoming call volume, availability of the agents, working hours, and even personal attributes such as their state of mind. However, in the case of auto attendants, all these factors are washed away because it’s a technology. Besides offering consistency in every response, auto attendants ensure that callers are greeted with standardized audio messages.  

24/7 Availability

Auto attendants ensure 24/7 availability to cater to customer inquiries, provide business-related information to callers, and direct calls to the right destinations. This means that they can handle customer calls around the clock. So, calls that arrive after regular business hours do not get missed enabling businesses to offer continuous customer service. 

You can also read our post on – Why (IVR) Interactive Voice Response System is Important for a Business?

Why do Businesses Use Auto-attendants?

auto-attendant-stats

Seamless communication remains one of the topmost priorities for all businesses. The constant need to have effective and advanced communication tools is therefore imperative. Auto-attendant is one such tool that can help businesses in streamlining their communication flow.

Some highlighting benefits of using an auto-attendant for businesses are as below:

Customized Greetings

With an auto-attendant, you can create custom voice greetings for callers that will play on every call. You can create these greetings in coherence with your brand, its ethics, and its customers. Such greetings can be a pleasant first impression for the callers rather than an irritating repetitive sound or complete silence. We shall discuss more auto-attendant scripts later in this post.

Satisfied Customers

No one wants to wait. Just give a thought to the fact that when there are hundreds of businesses out there just like you, why would a potential customer wait to talk with you? With auto-attendants’ faster call handling, the call queues get eliminated.

As per a KPMG study, it has been found that 90% of consumers worldwide consider issue resolution as their most important customer service concern.

The intelligent call routing function of the auto-attendant patches customer calls to concerned agents without any delay. Ultimately, it reduces the waiting time for callers to speak with the right agent.

Reduced Workload

Basic business query calls consume a lot of time for your agents. An auto-attendant can answer fundamental business questions such as business hours, office address, etc., without any difficulty. It’s a great time-saving tool for agents as they can devote their saved time and effort to other critical tasks.

Professional Impression

Imagine having a human receptionist handling multiple calls at the same time. It can create confusion and irritation among the callers. The image of your business can get spoiled easily. However, an auto-attendant professional voice recording poses an impression of a bigger organization for your business.

Cost Effective

An auto-attendant can not only help in savings but also boost sales and thus generate revenue. How? Well, first of all, investing in a business phone system with an auto-attendant feature is one investment with many benefits. You get so many advanced communication features along with the phone system significantly simplifying your business operations. Read our post on How to Select the Right Small Business Phone System?

Secondly, with the help of an auto-attendant, you can direct callers to your business phone number, especially those trying to reach the sales department, instead of sending them to voicemail.

Read our post on – How Virtual Assistants on Cloud Phone Systems are Changing the Communication Game?

How to Set Up an Auto-attendant?

KloudTalk’s Auto-attendant or multi-level IVR for business is quite easy to set up. Unlike those traditional landline phone systems, there’s no need to pay extra for the auto-attendant feature with KloudTalk. It’s built within and you can use it completely free of cost.

To set up your call flows and voice menu, please follow these steps:

Step 1: Sign in to your KloudTalk account.

Step 1: Under the settings, click on IVR

Step 1: Now Click on Add New IVR button

Step 1: After that, Select the IVR name, Language & Greeting & tap Save

Step 1: Now you have successfully integrated IVR in your Kloud PBX.

Step 1: Further, you can add a menu, routing options, etc. with multiple-level IVR as well.

Auto Attendant Scripts – What to Record?

auto attendant scriptNow, that you have configured call routing as per your business requirements, it is time to record greetings for your callers. The very first question that comes to mind is what would be the first thing you want your customers to hear? Certainly, you don’t want to frustrate and flood your callers with complex menu options. So the key to creating a good script for your auto attendant is to keep it simple, pleasant, and easy to understand. It should give the reflection of who you are as a brand. Keep in mind your business values and the nature of your customers. You can create different scripts based on customer queries such as basic information queries, product-related queries, holiday sale announcements, holiday greetings, etc.

Auto Attendant Best Practices

Clear and Professional Greetings

Choose a clear and professional tone for the auto attendant audio prompts. It is important to ensure that the voice matches the image of your brand as well. 

Simple Menu Options

A concise and easy-to-understand menu structure simply eliminates confusion for the caller. Keep the number of menu options within a certain limit. 

Efficient Call Routing

A well-defined routing structure lays the foundation of efficient call handling for your business. Make sure that the routing structure of the auto attendant is accurate i.e. skills of the agents match perfectly with the nature of the query of the caller. 

Regular Updates

It is important to periodically review and update the prompts of the auto attendant to make sure they are in line with your current business services and offerings. 

Voicemail Setup

Setting up the voicemail is an important step to ensure that no calls are missed. Incoming calls are directed to voicemail if they arrive after regular business hours or if no agent is available to take the call. 

Auto Attendant vs. Virtual Receptionist: Understanding the Difference

The basic purpose of an automated attendant and a virtual receptionist is the same – to handle incoming calls from a business. Although the terms “automated attendant” and “virtual receptionist” are sometimes used interchangeably, they are two different terms. Let’s understand one at a time:

An automated voice response, or IVR, is an automatic voice assistant that greets callers, offers them menu options, and helps them resolve their concerns or questions. It uses pre-recorded audio prompts to guide the caller. After the caller makes a selection from the displayed menu, the call is handled accordingly. This may be transferring the call to an appropriate person, answering basic questions, etc.

On the other hand, a virtual receptionist is a live agent or person who handles incoming calls from a remote location. This can be a human receptionist working from their home handling calls in a professional manner. A virtual receptionist can do various tasks while handling the call such as taking notes from the callers, scheduling appointments, etc. 

Auto attendant vs virtual receptionist

Industries That Can Benefit from an Auto Attendant

Auto Attendants bring several benefits to different types of industries some of which we are going to discuss here. 

  1. In the healthcare sector, the 24/7 availability of auto attendants help patients in getting access to healthcare information and services round the clock, which is very helpful, especially in case of emergency.
  2. If we talk about the E-commerce industry, there are two key benefits that this industry can gain using auto attendants improved operational efficiency and better customer experience by automating customers’ inquiries about order status, returns, etc.
  3. For Financial Institutions, auto attendants can provide callers with information like balance in their accounts, assistance in case of lost or stolen cards, etc.
  4. Auto attendants with multilingual features are very useful for the hospitality industry. Hotels, resorts, and other businesses dealing in this sector can use auto attendants to provide information to local as well as international callers in their preferred language.

Read How Can IVR System Solve Business Challenges?

Get Started with KloudTalk

KloudTalk is one of the best IVR service providers and a cloud-based business phone system that offers various useful communication features for businesses. Besides, Auto-attendant, KloudTalk provides business phone numbers, click-to-call buttons, call recording, call reporting, voicemail, and working time. It’s a must-have communication platform for businesses of all sizes.

Text-to-Speech: Professional IVR Recording with KloudTalk

Usually, companies hire a professional to record audio for their auto-attendant menu. This leads to additional investment and limits them from altering their IVR Scripts from time to time. However, KloudTalk resolves this issue by offering a Text-to-Speech facility. When your IVR scripts are ready, you can simply use the Text-to-Speech facility wherein you need to enter the desired text which will automatically converted to audio form. Moreover, you can choose from different options to choose the audio that best suits your business image. So, whenever you need to make some changes to your IVR, you can do that instantly using the text-to-speech facility in KloudTalk.

Want more information about IVRs? Don’t miss our post on Everything You Need to Know About Hosted IVR System

Auto Attendants are primarily designed to handle basic or routine customer inquiries such as providing information about working hours. However, complex queries often require meticulous understanding and personalized assistance. In such instances, a live customer service agent is always more effective.

Auto attendants provide small businesses with various benefits including cost-savings, efficient call routing, improved customer experience, professional image, 24/7 availability, and scalability.

Yes, the menu options, greetings, call routing flow, voicemail options, etc., of an auto attendant can be customized at any point in time to align with your business needs.

Note – This post has been updated with the latest information on 23-06-23.

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