We’ve all been there . . . You only have five more minutes left of your lunch break, and you just need to ask a quick question about a bill. You hurriedly dial the company’s number—only to listen to a monotone voice drone on for ten minutes about the company’s location, hours, and names with extensions. Before you know it, you're late returning to work.

Gritting your teeth, you end the call early and vow to never use that company again. All you wanted was to ask a one-minute question to an actual living, breathing human while on your break. Was that too much to ask?

Frustrated Caller
Auto-Attendant Etiquette

In the previous scenario, the problem was not that the company utilized a computerized auto attendant for initial contact; after all, computerized auto attendants are vital for quickly directing calls to the correct live agent (especially if your business has a large employee and client base). The real problem was that this company lacked an efficient call-routing plan that could get the caller to his or her destination as quickly as possible. In other words, this company did not understand basic auto-attendant etiquette. 

Auto Attendant Don’ts
Woman Thumbs Down

As in the anecdote described at the beginning, a common mistake is to bombard the caller with too much initial information instead of categorizing the information into separate main-menu items or submenu topics. If you have a well-organized menu right after your greeting, the caller can immediately access their end goal (usually an agent within a specific department) with only one or two selections.

Some additional “don’ts” that can save your callers time and frustration are the following:

  • Don’t always promote that the zero key can immediately take callers to an agent. Menu selections exist so that callers get the right agent on the first try—so the caller doesn’t have to be passed around to different people.
  • Don’t direct callers to your website unless they can utilize it to get questions answered with a self-service section.
  • Don’t repeat “please” for every single automated directive; use at the very beginning only. Time is of the essence for most callers, and word repetition can be annoying. 
  • Don’t present more than six options at a time to avoid overwhelming callers.
Auto Attendant Do’s
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Following common auto-attendant etiquette guidelines will help eliminate caller exasperation:

  • Do include a short beginning greeting, so your company sounds inviting—but the keyword is “short.” There should be no more than two or three lines of a greeting.
  • Do place the most frequently selected menu options first, reducing wait time for your callers.
  • Do list your company’s major departments in your menu; then provide submenu selections for specific employee extensions. This way, you’re not giving an initial endless list of extensions that don’t apply to the caller.
  • Do give the option description before the number. (For example, say “For sales, press two.”)
How TelWare Can Help

TelWare is happy to outfit your company with a top-notch auto attendant that meets the particular needs of your business. But we don’t stop there. We can also customize a call-routing tree that ensures your customers get to their desired destination in record time, and we can even provide professional voice recordings for your auto attendant. These services are complimentary with any install, as well as for our hosted and maintenance clients. Whether you’re a large medical-care facility or an independently owned small company, TelWare can use targeted data to identify common call patterns and create the best call-routing plan for your business.

And, yes, we'll make sure your clients get to talk an actual human right away!

To learn more about the most successful auto attendants, as well as complementary customized call-routing trees, call TelWare at 1-800-637-3148. TelWare is a national leader in the installation of voice, video, data, and unified communications solutions.


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