July 14th, 2016 by Bronson TangWhenever a pre-recorded voice welcomes callers and gives them an entire menu of options an Auto attendant is in use. For many years this type of technology was only available to companies that were both large in size and budget. But with the implementation of VoIP and PBX Hosting solutions auto attendants are now viable for companies of practically any size.
What is an auto attendant and what does it do?At its most basic level an auto attendant is a way for an office to forward calls without the need for a receptionist to first take the call. Customers and clients can reach employees and departments directly by either punching in an extension or choosing a number from a menu prompt. Many times auto attendants have the ability to connect people to voicemail, play recordings, join conference calls or search dial-by-name directories. If a business already uses a VoIP system then most likely an auto attendant is already available as either part of the plan or as an upgrade.
Why would a business want one?As stated earlier an auto attendant replaces the need for a receptionist, which frees up money to hire employees who can perform other tasks. Auto attendants actually route calls much more efficiently than human receptionists, and connects callers to the right resource much faster. With an auto attendant business owners are able to customize for different scenarios, making it so different menus will play for different scenarios, business hours versus after-hours or holiday hours versus weekend hours for example. Furthermore, setting up and creating the menus has never been easier. Business owners are able to record their own menus or greetings and then upload them. That is in addition to being able to transfer callers to ring groups, create call queues, set up voicemail and voicemail forwarding, and even utilizing multiple auto attendants with different menus for different numbers that are called. This makes auto attendants easily customizable for the specific needs of any business.
Provider doesn’t have one? Options for those in need.Most VoIP providers offer auto attendants, but if for some reason the existing phone service provider for a business does not offer an auto attendant then there are two options: The first and most obvious is to switch to a phone provider that does offer an auto attendant. If the business uses traditional phone services, like those from the local telephone, they may find there are actually cheaper options that do offer auto attendants. Hosted PBX and VoIP systems are two that have been mentioned previously. Of course this means getting started with a new service, which also means either moving phone numbers or getting a brand new phone number and all the headaches involved with that: changing business cards, ads, informing customers and clients. It may even involve a small initial expense of having to buy new phones that are compatible with the new system, though that small expense is still cheaper than most services offered by traditional phone services and plans. The other option is to use a separate service for auto attendant. These separate services are often able to forward calls to current phones. Of the two options this is both the most flexible and the easiest. With this option there is no hassle of changing phone numbers, transferring numbers, buying new equipment or even changing providers. Better yet with most of these systems it is even possible to set up call forwarding and integrate both cell phones and landlines without switching over to a VoIP or Hosted PBX system. This is ideal for businesses that are located in regions with slow interment, spotty internet, or zero access to affordable broadband.
The paying for a separate auto attendant system.No system is perfect, so it follows that there pros and cons to a separate auto attendant systems. Pricing plans being an example of both pro and con. There are multiple types of pricing plans, but the question will always be what type of plan is right for what type of business? Pay-per-minute, unlimited, and monthly bulk rate with many offering additional services available upon request. It is the additional services that will eat into the overhead of any business, as choosing the wrong service provider can cause the bill to go from ten or fifteen dollars a month to nearly a hundred dollars a month just with the add-ons. First impressions can be the only chance to win over a customer or client. In fact it could be said that the two most necessary points of contact for a business are their website and their phone system. Rude receptionists, busy signals, long call queues can all be avoided with a simple auto attendant, using one is a small price to pay when it could be the difference between gaining new customers or losing old.
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