Exactly What is an Automated Attendant?
People new to hosted telephony eventually reach the question, “What is an Automated Attendant?”
Often referred to as Auto Attendant, AA, AutoAttendant, or even Virtual Receptionist, an Automated Attendant is one of the most important features in a hosted telephone system because it stands as the first point of contact for inbound callers.
In this post, we’ll review the different types of Auto Attendants and their use cases. Our goal is to bring you all of the information you need to answer confidently the next time someone asks you what an auto attendant is.
What Kinds Of Auto Attendants Are There?
This question can be a bit misleading because, although they can be presented in a variety of ways, all Automated Attendants are effectively the same technology. That said, how a business chooses to use it, or how their VoIP provider makes it available, will determine what the final Auto Attendant looks like.
- Simple Menu System – This is the most basic Auto Attendant you can have with an easy to navigate recording of a business’ extension options. Typically this is a computer generated or pre-installed voice recording and has little or no preloaded branding available for a business.
- Recorded Greeting – This method of using an Automated Attendant lets a business leverage some personality or seasonal promotion. By recording your own messages (or leveraging a professional recording option), you can have the actual voices of your team members on the recording. Also, this is a good way to rotate the message to highlight events on the calendar.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System – Not to be confused with an actual Auto Attendant, IVR’s are designed to achieve the same type of directory services but include added functions for systems that take voice activated bill pay, customer service, etc. These systems are very expensive and rarely used outside of large enterprise organizations and, for the sake of telephony, are viewed as a distinct system to traditional Automated Attendants.
Why Use Auto Attendants?
Use cases for Automated Attendants vary as widely as the types of companies that employ them. The cost savings of an Auto Attendant system, though, are generally reason enough for most businesses to entertain experimenting with them. Combine the simplicity and reliability of leveraging a virtual receptionist with the overall benefits of a hosted business phone system, and most businesses that try an Auto Attendant will generally never go back to a traditional phone system ever again. Some of the benefits of a hosted system that pertain to an Auto Attendant specifically, however, are below.
- Professional Image – Adding an automated greeting to an on-site business phone system is incredibly costly. That’s why many businesses employ a hosted VoIP option as a way to promote a larger, more professional business image to callers, well before even actually speaking to them on the phone.
- Save on Overhead – Having an Auto Attendant is like hiring a receptionist who never takes sick days, always shows up on time, and is willing to work for free. All jokes aside, virtual receptionists are literally that, hosted telephony’s cost-saving answer to the headaches of hiring dedicated phone receptionist staff.
- Improved Call Navigation – Not to be overlooked is the simple ease of use benefit that callers who encounter an Automated Attendant experience. By streamlining the menu options to inbound callers with an Auto Attendant, businesses can also shorten the path for callers to get their support, sales, and miscellaneous needs met.
- Increased Efficiency – Having a virtual receptionist is more than just a cost saver, it’s also a one-way ticket to increased productivity on a team. By eliminating calls to the wrong people and by freeing employees from the diligence it takes to keep an ear open for the phone, they are also liberated to focus more on getting the job done throughout the day.
Auto Attendants Are Just The Beginning
Automated Attendants are definitely one of the most popular and most widely used elements of a hosted business phone system, but they represent only a small fraction of VoIP’s total capabilities. Modern day VoIP telephone systems for businesses include an entire battery of intelligent, mobile, and integrated options that are either cost-prohibitive or simply unavailable on traditional PBX platforms. To experience the total battery of VoIP features with no risk, businesses can take a free, 14-day trial of a hosted phone system with Auto-Attendant included. Now, with the information above and the opportunity to try a phone system for yourself for free, there should never be a need to ask what is an Automated Attendant ever again!