An Auto Attendant phone system is an incredibly useful feature for companies of all sizes. In this article, we look at what an Auto Attendant is, its benefits to businesses, how it works and much more.

What is an Auto Attendant?

An Auto Attendant is a feature in a business phone system that allows a caller to select the destination of their call from a pre-configured menu system. Think of it as a virtual receptionist, who routes calls to their correct destination.

When a caller phones the company, the Auto Attendant answers the call and provides them with a number of options. Using their telephone keypad, the caller chooses the option that best suits their enquiry and the call is routed onwards. The best Auto Attendants on the market will allow the call to be routed to a variety of destinations giving the caller the ability to get to the correct destination every time. 

Simple Auto Attendant Diagram
Simple Auto Attendant Diagram

Multi-level Auto Attendant

A multi-level Auto Attendant as the name suggests is one where the caller is routed from one Auto Attendant to another, which is especially valuable for larger companies with multiple sites or more complex hierarchies. As we'll outline later in this article, T2k's VoIP Auto Attendant, allows callers to be routed through up to three levels of Auto Attendants with a range of destinations to choose from.

Multi-level Auto Attendant
Multi-level Auto Attendant Diagram


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Business benefits of an Auto Attendant

An Auto Attendant phone system provides significant benefits to both the business and those calling it:

Professional image

An Auto Attendant phone system can help you to portray a professional image of your company to callers. As people are so frequently greeted with an automated attendant when they call large companies and organisations it's become a service that's increasingly expected by consumers. Because an Auto Attendant deals with calls in an efficient manner, it provides a professional image of your business.

The great thing about automated attendants is that they can be customised to provide personalised messages and options to your callers. This could include useful information such as your company opening hours or even promotional content relating to your latest marketing campaign.

Reduce costs

A phone system with an Auto Attendant has the ability to significantly reduce costs in your business, for example, they can completely replace the need for a receptionist or an operator. In addition, it will increase efficiency among the rest of your team, ensuring that their phones only ring with calls that are actually for them. The larger your business, the greater the opportunity for savings, especially if you operate across multiple sites or remote locations.

Improve customer service

As you most likely know from personal experience, calling a company just to be put on hold and transferred between people is incredibly frustrating. This bouncing around tends to lead to dissatisfaction and tension when the caller eventually reaches their desired destination. An Auto Attendant minimises this risk, by helping customers to be routed to their destination first time. This results in happier customers, easier calls and better customer service.

Increase efficiency and productivity

Finally, a well-configured Auto Attendant is ultimately an efficient call routing solution. With the ability to control the flow of calls, ensuring that the correct departments and individuals are connected with the caller at the first attempt, it can free up your agents' time and improve the efficiency of your call centre or business.

Difference between Auto Attendant and IVR

IVR or Interactive Voice Response to give its full name is a more advanced version of Auto Attendant, which allows you to do things like collect information, or ask the caller simple questions. The 'voice response' part of the name has nothing to do with whether the system has voice recognition, some have others don't, instead, it relates to the input and response. For example, if you call your bank, you might be asked to input security information relating to your account, or following the call, you might be presented with a survey, on a scale of 1-5 of how well the call was handled. Both of these are IVRs, and as you can see the primary benefit of an IVR over an Auto Attendant is their ability to collect information from the caller.


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T2k's VoIP Auto Attendant

Our Auto Attendant is built into our market-leading hosted VoIP system Horizon and gives businesses a diverse set of options for automated call routing. In this section of the article, we'll look at how our solution works for small businesses and large alike.

Horizon Auto Attendant

One of the many features of our cloud VoIP platform is the ability to configure a sophisticated Auto Attendant call routing solution. When logged in as a user with the appropriate permissions, you can visit the Auto Attendant section of the portal, which can be found within the "Call Groups" area. Once there you can choose to create a new Auto Attendant or manage one you've configured before.

As shown in the screenshot below, each Auto Attendant gives you the option of using the same menu all the time or different menus during and after your business opening hours.

Screenshot of Horizon Auto Attendant
Screenshot of T2k Horizon Auto Attendant

Menu options

Each Auto Attendant can have up to 12 menu options relating to the keys on the caller's keypad, 0-9 plus * and #. Each option can then be configured to route the call to a variety of destinations.

Transfer with prompt

This menu option allows the caller to hear a recorded message once they have selected a menu item. For example, "Please wait while we connect your call to the next available customer service agent". This option will also play the recorded voicemail message that a user sets if configured.

Transfer without prompt

This option will transfer the call to the required destination once the menu option is selected. That destination could be a user, hunt group or another Auto Attendant.

Transfer to operator

This will transfer the call to a set telephone number/extension after ten seconds.

Name Dialling

Name Dialling allows the caller to type in a name based on your dialling scope i.e. Peter would be "73897" and the last name Smith would be "76424".

Extension Dialling

This allows the caller to type in a user's extension number, allowing the call to be connected directly to the individual they're looking to speak to.

Repeat Menu

This option replays the audio recording associated with this Auto-Attendant.

Exit

This option ends the call.

Recording Auto Attendant messages in Horizon

When it comes to setting up your Auto Attendant in our Horizon platform, you've got a few options in terms of audio recording.

  • Use your Horizon phone to record your message
  • Record the message on your computer and upload an audio file
  • Use our professional message recording service

How much does an Auto Attendant cost?

By this point, you might be thinking that what we've described sounds expensive and the realm of bigger businesses only, but you'd be wrong. T2k's Horizon Auto Attendant is just one of many features included as standard with our cloud VoIP service. So, from only £8.95 a month, you can get a hosted VoIP service which includes an advanced Auto Attendant. Pretty good right?

About T2k

T2k are one of the UK's leading VoIP providers, delivering a high-quality cloud-hosted VoIP service to thousands of people every day. As experts in VoIP and telecoms, we can advise you on any challenges you might be facing and help you overcome them.

Have a question? Send us a message via live chat or call us on 0808 202 3200.