An auto attendant is an automated program that provides customer service over the phone. Such programs are also known as virtual receptionists since they are actually a suite of digitally recorded and pre-written scripts used as a substitute for the traditional office receptionist. Businesses often discuss using an auto attendant, and callers also provide a variety of responses regarding their likes and dislikes of hearing a “machine recording” rather than a real human voice. Finally, the type of business one runs and what their customers want should be the factors that help decide whether or not an auto attendant is the right option.
Much like every receptionist reflects a company’s image and voice, business owners must recognize that the choice between an auto attendant and a human receptionist comes down to how it impacts their business internally and externally. In most cases, a hybrid system is a logical solution as it allows a business to reduce labor costs and streamline operations while also allowing callers to speak to a live person at any time. However, if you want to improve customer service, an auto attendant can prove to be an effective tool.
Businesses can enjoy many benefits of an auto attendant. Such automated programs are usually low monthly costs that compare to the cost of hiring a salaried receptionist. If budget is tight, a business can opt for a less expensive system with standard features. Despite being a very basic version, some systems can be better than traditional receptionists in terms of service, as they are conveniently available 24/7, respond quickly to callers, and can serve multiple callers at the same time.
A well-designed system greets callers with a corporate greeting and allows them to interact via phone dialing or voice prompts to provide and gather information. For example, a caller can select option 1 on their phone keypad to hear a pre-recorded description of the company’s products and services. Or, selecting option 2 may result in another pre-recorded message containing information about the company’s operating hours, observed holidays, and additional details that would otherwise take up an employee’s time. Option 3, on the other hand, could lead to a menu of extension numbers and allow callers to choose exactly who they want to speak to. Therefore, even at the most basic levels, an auto attendant can make a company’s customer service operations more efficient and also create a better customer experience for callers.
Businesses can go many steps further to take full advantage of an auto attendant. With the right implementation, such a system can be extended and customized according to a company’s specific needs to represent the voice of the company. In general, larger companies can reap the greatest benefits, as adding any type of automation to their customer service department can drastically reduce operational costs. In some cases, the auto attendant can recognize caller ID, link it to the caller’s account number, and automatically route calls to the appropriate sales representative. Not only does this save the caller time and hassle, but it also alerts the field worker to the caller and triggers a link that allows the field worker to instantly access the relevant account information.
For an international company, an auto attendant can detect which geographic location a call is originating from and automatically route the call to the appropriate local office. Finally, the system can be customized with personal voice overs, greetings and scripts to create a more personalized experience for the customer. As a result, an auto attendant can become much more than just a cold and mundane answering machine.