Auto Attendant Phone System Best Practices [4 Tips]

Despite the rapid growth of online customer service tools, 79% of consumers would still prefer to contact a customer service center over the telephone.

This is why entire books have been written on best practices for call center operators. But little has been said about best practices for Auto Attendants.

The Auto Attendant is not a living, breathing human being. But it is responsible for a significant number of customer side encounters that essentially function as customer service interactions.

Here are four key best practices to keep in mind when you're setting up your Auto Attendant.

Attendant's answering calls

  1. Ensure Your Auto Attendant Has a Logical Call Sequence 

    "To ensure that you are delivering a great customer experience with your auto-attendant, businesses should provide the most important information up front," said Andrea Mocherman, Director of Marketing and Communications at FlowRoute. "To get a better understanding of how callers are interacting with your auto-attendant, consider tracking how they are navigating through your phone tree, so a more streamlined experience can be applied."

    "Nothing is more frustrating to a caller than getting stuck in a phone tree or having to listen to a long list of menu options that aren't applicable to them. To reduce frustration, give your callers the option to zero out to reach a receptionist or to enter an extension to reach the person or information they are looking for. The auto attendant can be a real time and cost saver for your company, as long as it is implemented with the caller experience in mind."

    When you program your Auto Attendant, you have to think of the call from the customer's perspective. Ask yourself these questions while sequencing the choices for your Auto Attendant:

    1. Is the caller aware of the necessary language options before the menu begins?
    2. Does the menu unfold in a logical progression?
    3. Are the most likely options front loaded, so that the caller wastes as little time as possible?
    4. Is there a general fallback option if none of the options are relevant to the caller?

    If your Auto Attendant can be heard in a language other than English, would you wait until the end of the recording to inform the caller of this option?

    Obviously not - a Spanish speaking customer would be annoyed by having to sit through a string of incomprehensible options just to hear your message.

    An error like this tells the customer that you don't value their time, because let's face it: interacting with Auto Attendants is rarely the highlight of someone's day.

  2. Less Is More

    In keeping with the theme of saving customers' time, it makes sense that Auto Attendants for phone systems should offer as few options as possible.

    Offering selections for 'Support' and 'Troubleshooting' in the same Auto Attendant menu might confuse customers with technical issues, making them unsure of which option to pick. At the very least, it's a redundant option, assuming that support and troubleshooting are handled by the same personnel.

    As stated in the first section, failsafe options can serve as a safety net for incoming customers. A worst case scenario for an Auto Attendant is that it might obstruct a caller from ever interacting with your actual staff. If a caller listens to all the options and is still confused, there should be a general purpose option that lets them speak to an operator.

  3. Make Sure Your Employees Know What's Coming

    It goes without saying that employees should know what's expected of them when they field a call. It's important to equip your employees with the tools they need to have productive calls with customers. Incoming calls can be screened and routed according to which button is pressed on the auto attendant.

    Employees who engage in dual roles, such as sales and support combos, should be given notice as to whether the call has come from the 'Sales' or 'Support' line. We wrote a step-by-step guide on how to set this up last year.

    CRM integration will play a crucial role in how much information your employees know before they ever pick up the phone. Many hosted PBX services offer ways to properly route and label calls accordingly.

  4. Crafting the Right Recording


    Hiring voice talent makes your business seem more professional and competent (Courtesy of Allison Smith)

    It's easy enough to record a functioning auto attendant recording on your computer. But remember: just because the recording is functional doesn't mean it's right for your business. Making sure the recording is clean, professional, and high quality might require you to seek outside voice talent.

    Am I implying that an unprofessional auto attendant recording will lead to lost business? Not necessarily. But certainly, whenever your company interacts with customers, you want to put your best foot forward. Any opening that allows your company to look lackluster affects the customer's overall perception of your competence.

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Topics: SMB Leadership