An auto attendant is an automated program that provides customer service over the phone. Such programs are also known as virtual receptionists because, in effect, they are a sequence of digitally prerecorded and pre-designed scripts that are used as a replacement for the traditional office receptionist. Businesses often debate over the use of an auto attendant, and callers also give a wide variety of responses about their likes and dislikes toward hearing a «machine recording» instead of a real human voice. Eventually, the type of business that one is running and the desires of its customers should be the factors that help in deciding whether or not an auto attendant is the right option.
Similarly to how any receptionist reflects the image and voice of a company, business owners must realize that making the choice between an auto attendant and a human receptionist depends on how it will impact their business internally and externally. In most cases, a hybrid system is a logical solution since it allows a company to reduce labor costs and streamline operations while also allowing callers to opt to speak to a live person at any time. However, when seeking to improve customer service, an auto attendant can prove to be an effective tool.
Businesses can enjoy many advantages of having an auto attendant. Such automated programs are usually a low monthly cost that is minor compared to the costs of hiring a salaried receptionist. If budget is at a minimum, a company can choose to get a less expensive system with default functions. Although a very basic version, some systems can be better than traditional receptionists when it comes to service because they are conveniently available around the clock, respond quickly to callers, and can attend to multiple callers at once.
A well-built system will greet callers with a company greeting and enable them to interact through phone dialing or voice prompts in order to provide and gather information. For example, a caller may be able to select option 1 on their phone keypad to hear a prerecorded description about the company’s products and services. Or, selecting option 2 may lead to another prerecorded message that provides information about the company’s hours of operation, 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 whom they want to talk to. Hence, even at the most basic levels, an auto attendant can make a company’s customer services operations work more efficiently and also create a better customer experience for callers.
Companies can go many steps further in order to take full advantage of the benefits of an auto attendant. With the right implementation, such a system can expand according to a company’s specific needs and be customized in order to represent the company’s voice. In general, larger companies can reap the greatest benefits because adding any sort of automation to their customer service department can dramatically reduce operational expenses. In some cases, the auto attendant may recognize the caller ID, link it to the caller’s account number, and automatically forward calls to the appropriate sales agent. This not only saves time and effort for the caller, but also warns the sales agent about who is calling and triggers a link that the sales agent can use to immediately access the respective account information.
For an international company, an auto attendant can detect which geographical location a call is being made from and automatically redirect the call to the matching local office. Finally, the system can be customized with personal voice recordings, greetings, and scripts in order 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.