The Do’s and Don’ts of Auto Attendants

The Auto Attendant on your business phone system is the first thing your customers and business associates will hear when they call your company. You only have one chance to make a good first impression so you should always make sure you have a professional sounding Auto Attendant. For people who call your company frequently, you will want to make sure that your automated attendant process is efficient so that they don’t waste time listening to your entire automated attendant script every time they call.

The first step in creating a good automated attendant is to write a script. Then you will need to decide if you will record the greeting in-house, or have the greeting professionally recorded for you. If you are going to record the greeting yourself, select a person to record the greeting who has a friendly voice, can speak without stuttering or hesitating and can pronounce and annunciate each word and name clearly.

Automated Attendant Greeting

The first part of the script will be the greeting. This is your opportunity to present your company to your callers and verbally welcome them into your company.

Automated Attendant Greeting Do’s

  • Begin with an appreciation for their call or business
  • Do keep the greeting short so returning callers are not delayed each time they call
  • Use your tag line, company slogan and/or website name if you have them.

Automated Attendant Greeting Don’ts

  • Don’t use more than two or three sentences to greet your callers
  • Don’t promote your website if it doesn’t have anything of value to offer to your customers
  • Don’t make up a slogan or tag line just to fill the greeting.

Automated Attendant Options

The most important part of the automated attendant is presenting the caller with different options to get to the person that they need to speak with. There are basically two types of callers: (1) people who are unfamiliar with your company and will need guidance and (2) callers who know exactly who they need to speak to and know their extension.

Automated Attendant Options Do’s

  • Do use options that are commonly accepted. For example, “Press zero for the front desk”, “Press the pound key to return to the main menu.”
  • Do tell your callers as soon as possible when they can dial their party’s extension.
  • Do let your callers know up front if your menu options have changed recently. You can safely remove this notice after three weeks.Do put the most frequently used options first.
  • Do give the option description before you give the option number. For example, “For Customer Support, press ‘5’.”
  • Do check your systems documentation for reserved menu option numbers. (e.g. all extensions begin with the number “8” and therefore “8” cannot be used as a menu option).

Automated Attendant Options Don’ts

  • Don’t say “Please” before you present each and every option (e.g. “Please press 1 to … Please press 2 to… Please press 3 to…” etc.)
  • Don’t present more than six options at a time. If you have more than six options, create a multi-tiered menu structure. For example, “For sales and customer service, press 5.”
  • Don’t hang up on the caller if they don’t answer quickly enough. If a menu option is not selected within three seconds of the end of the greeting, connect the caller to the receptionist or offer them more time.

Sample Automated Attendant Scripts

  • Thank you for calling The Widget Company, where “You can find the best quality widgets in the world.” If you know your party’s extension, you may dial it at any time. Otherwise choose from one of the following options. For Sales, press ‘1’. For Technical Support, press ‘2’. For our regular business hours, press ‘3’. For accounting, press ‘4’. For Purchasing, press ‘5’. For directions to our store, press ‘6’. Otherwise press ‘0’ for the receptionist or stay on the line and somebody will assist you shortly.
  • Welcome to Williams Technology. To check on a help desk ticket, visit us on the web at support.williamstechnology. com. If you know the extension of the person you would like to reach, you may dial it at any time. For the company directory, press ‘1’. For Sales, press ‘2’. For Customer Service, press ‘3’. For Billing, press ‘4’. If you would like to talk to the receptionist, press ‘0’ or stay on the line and one of our friendly staff members will assist you. Thank you for calling Williams Technology, where “Technology and business come together.”
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