Designing an Effective Business Phone Auto Attendant

Kim Silva – Sales and Marketing

The auto attendant feature is one of the most desired features of today’s business phone systems.  Auto attendants – phone system applications that serve as automated receptionists to answer the phone and provide callers with menu options – are an especially hot topic for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in their quest to reduce costs and create superior customer experiences. 

Many companies are utilizing auto attendants with their cloud phone systems to provide additional assistance for the receptionist or for after-hours support.   And, countless other businesses are entirely replacing their receptionists with auto attendants for significant cost savings and for handling multiple calls at once without leaving customers on hold. 

As auto attendant usage continues to become more prevalent, consumers have definite opinions on their design.  A recent research report, released by telecom technology company Software Advice, surveyed consumers and SMBs alike on the usage of auto attendants and how customers respond to them.

Keep It Short and Sweet

Forty-eight percent of report respondents prefer using the phone as the first point of contact with a new business.  As a result, design of an effective auto attendant is critical in providing potential customers with a positive first impression.  Nearly half of customers surveyed by Software Advice report they would take their business elsewhere if left with a frustrating auto attendant experience.

What constitutes a negative auto attendant experience?  Report respondents’ top pain points include: long introductions, too many options, ambiguous options, and illogically ordered options.

Auto Attendant Design Philosophy
Findings show that customers are most likely to respond positively to auto attendants that adhere to a specific design philosophy to provide callers optimum ease of use.  Report recommendations suggest:

  • Introductions under three seconds
  • Menus with fewer than five options
  • Menus with the most important options listed first
  • Maximum length of one minute total

A properly designed auto attendant creates a win-win situation, saving businesses resources and money, while providing customers with an efficient method to obtain information and reach their desired contact.  With features such as auto attendant, cloud business phone systems are becoming an invaluable asset in helping today’s businesses cut costs and provide positive customer experiences.