auto attendant

What Is an Auto Attendant?

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Chances are good that you encounter Auto Attendants almost daily. They are easy to recognize: For this, press 1. For that, press 2If you have ever called a business and been presented with choices without the intervention of a receptionist, then you have “met” an Auto Attendant. Businesses of all types and sizes use virtual receptionists to route their customer’s calls based on a menu selection.  

“Please listen closely, as our menu options have recently changed…”  

Auto Attendants are like a virtual switchboard, often replacing the need for a dedicated resource to answer the phone. They enable callers to navigate quickly to what they need – whether that is recorded information, a company directory, or transfer to a department or extension, regardless of geography. 

Here’s how it works: Virtual receptionists “greet” you with a simple menu. You make your choice using your telephone keypad (Press 3 for Sales). The virtual attendant ‘understands’ your choice from the tone made when you press the key on your DTMF phone. The Auto Attendant coordinates with the phone system to route your call accordingly. Off you go! 

Auto Attendants in the call center 

In the contact center, Auto Attendants are used to provide callers with a positive call experience by getting the caller to the right agent with the right skill set on the first call.  

Auto Attendants coordinate with a contact center’s Automatic Contact Distributor (ACD). Contact centers often use virtual attendants to complement Interactive Voice Response (IVR) software, which offers more self-service options for customers to quickly self-solve basic issues, like bill payments or account inquiries. When used together in a call center, Auto Attendants and IVR self-service can help to reduce operational costs and improve customer satisfaction.  

“For fax number, press 1. For business hours, press 2…” 

By providing customers with self-service access to frequently-requested information (such as business hours and fax number), Auto Attendants free up agents to handle more complex cases.  This is a boon to agents – who get a break from answering the same questions (What is the fax number?) or repeating the same information (What are your business hours?). Auto Attendants help to minimize repetitive, mundane customer issues and let agents focus on more complex inquires. 

In contact centers with multi-skilled or dedicated queues, Auto Attendants are efficient in directing callers to the most relevant group of agents. With routing based on menu selection, callers feel confident that they are speaking to the right person – a specialist.