Getting to know your VoIP System: One Feature at a Time
Also called: Virtual Receptionist, Auto Receptionist, Auto Attendant, or AA.
What is the VoIP Automated Attendant feature?
The Voice over IP (VoIP) Automated Attendant can be thought of as a virtual operator. When someone calls a company, the auto attendant answers with a greeting menu and then the caller selects the option they want. A common form of this greeting is:
“Thank you for calling Company, Inc. If you know your party’s extension, you may enter it now. For sales, press 1, for support, press 2…”?
How does an Automated Attendant benefit you?
An auto attendant lets customers call into a single phone number and be connected to various departments, people, office locations, etc. The auto attendant is also great for assisting customers after hours. A business can leave a message with an emergency contact number, or have it connect the caller with someone who is “on call”.
How do I use the automated attendant on my cloud based PBX system?
An automated attendant needs to be set up and given instructions on how it should direct and handle calls. Working with an experienced company greatly simplifies this process. You can call us at (212) 290-2736
Practical Applications of an Automated Attendant
- Quickly answer callers’ questions. An example is in a medical office. When the office is called, their auto attendant says: “Press 1 for urgent matters, Press 2 if you are a physician or pharmacy, Press 3 to speak to reception, or Press 4 to hear practice hours and location.” This allows calls to be prioritized by urgency –and if a caller just needs to know the practice’s hours, location, or directions they can press 4 and hear a message with that information.
- Use multiple languages with an auto attendant. If a company’s staff is bilingual in English and another language, then the auto attendant can let callers select their language. Their auto attendant might say: “For the English Menu. Press One — or para Español, oprime el dos (for Spanish, press 2).” Once the caller selects their language, they can be given an options menu in that language.
- Direct callers to the correct location. An auto attendant can seamlessly direct calls to multiple office locations.
- Auto attendants can have multiple levels. When someone calls, they’ll hear the menu from the auto attendant and then select an option. The selected option brings up a new menu, from which the caller selects the next option and is connected with the appropriate person or department within the company.
- Set a schedule for auto attendants. A typical arrangement is: one auto attendant during business hours; a different one during lunch, and another one for after hours/weekends.
- Use the auto attendant to assist with high call volumes. During influxes of calls, a live person can’t always answer every call. The auto attendant is a practical and efficient way of quickly directing callers to where they need to go.
- Auto attendants can direct calls to mobile phones. Helpful for when someone is traveling, but needs to have their calls go to their mobile.
- Messages can be remotely added. An auto attendant announcement can be recorded on our hosted Voice over IP systems, securely, and from anywhere. This is commonly used when customers need to be informed that a business won’t be open because of bad weather, or an emergency.
- The auto attendant can be recorded by a company’s own staff member, Steadfast can provide a voice, or a professional voice actor can be used.
- Auto attendants can be activated manually (similar to turning on an answering machine before leaving the office) –or the auto attendant can adhere to a programmed schedule, using a feature called Time Conditions.
In upcoming feature articles, we’ll discuss the following VoIP phone system features, which can work in conjunction with the Auto Attendant.
- Ring Groups – multiple phones are set to all ring at the same time, or in a certain order, when a call comes in.
- Call Queues – an ordered “waiting line” where calls are held until someone is available to answer it.
- Voicemail Boxes – a virtual location where voice messages can be retrieved from.
- Dial-by-name Directory – Callers are presented with a list of names to choose from. The call is then forwarded to that person’s extension.
- Individual Extensions – A short number which is used to call a specific phone, within a system.
Thanks for reading! We have many more IP phone system features to come, but if you have missed
any of the ones we have discussed, head over to Getting to Know your VoIP System: One Feature at a
Time to catch up. Next week, we’ll be discussing Ring Groups and how Ring Groups can be used along with an auto attendant.