What is an Auto-Attendant: Advantages & How to Create Your Own

What is an Auto-Attendant: Advantages & How to Create Your Own

What is an Auto-Attendant?

An Auto-Attendant (also Automated Attendant) is a voiced menu system that automatically answers and transfers incoming calls to their desired extension through a phone’s keypad, without the need for a live receptionist or operator. The Auto-Attendant is often referred to as a virtual receptionist.

As a business grows and your customer service calls increase, an auto attendant phone system can offer a reliable and efficient way to route calls to your team. A phone call is often the first impression a new potential customer receives from your business, so how those calls are managed can directly impact your sales. With a professional Auto-Attendant system, you can be sure all your business calls are being answered and handled exactly how you want them to be.

As consumers, we interact with auto attendants on a regular basis. When you call a service provider or merchant, you’re typically greeted by an automated voice prompting you to make a selection from their menu options by pressing a key on your touch-tone telephone. Typically the options will be to speak to sales, customer service, or a live operator. Based on your selection, you’ll then be routed to the appropriate person or department.

This automated routing system is an efficient tool for organizations, as it works around the clock to distribute incoming calls to the right place without human intervention.

Auto-Attendant service is also known as a phone menu.

What are the Benefits of Using an Auto-Attendant?

An auto attendant is a critical component of any business phone system, particularly for companies with customer service and call center needs. The benefits include: 

  • Reducing costs on operators and virtual receptionists
  • Delivering better customer service experiences
  • Freeing up employees' time to focus on more important work 

You can do more with an automated attendant than just having a greeting that sends calls to employees. You can add more call management tools like a search-by-name company directory, call waiting queues, hold music, and much more.  

How to Create an Auto-Attendant in 5 Steps

Telzio offers internet based business phone services that makes it easy to create and manage an online auto attendant. With Telzio, you can personalize your business phone system without any heavy lifting. The auto attendant feature is included with the service at no additional cost and can be personalized and ready to go within a few minutes.

Once you’ve created a Telzio account and you’re logged into the Telzio website, setting up an auto attendant is easy using Telzio Call Flows. Here's how it's done. 

1. Choose a Phone Number

First step is to determine which phone number you want to be routed through your auto attendant. You can have multiple numbers forwarded to the same auto attendant if you have more than one business or campaign. 

If you already have a phone number, you can configure it to work with an automated attendant. You can also browse for local and toll-free numbers from over 60 countries. 

Once you have your number, you may also want to consider customizing your caller ID name for outbound calling purposes. By customizing the caller ID for our Telzio number, the people we call will see “Telzio” in the caller ID rather than just “Los Angeles”.

Next, you'll create the settings for your auto attendant.

2. Record a Greeting

After you've decided on what you want your greeting to say, you can have it professionally recorded or simply record it yourself.

There are three ways you can add a greeting:

  • Upload your greeting with an audio file.
  • Record your greeting directly through the browser using your computer mic.
  • Type in your greeting using our text-to-speech tool.

With Telzio's user-friendly interface, you can easily update your greeting anytime. 

Recommended: IVR Menu and Best Practices

3. Create Menu Options

Next you'll create a phone menu corresponding to the greeting you just created. It can be simple or you can make it into a multi-level auto attendant. This is where the visual UI in Telzio makes creating auto attendant systems a breeze. If you present your callers with 3 options, you simply mark 1, 2, and 3 in the Telzio UI. Each option creates an additional path in your call flow, where you can implement additional call routing features such as a queue, hunt group, dial-by-name directory, voicemail, or even another phone menu.

From the menu, you can forward calls to office phones, cell phones, and even third party answering services. You could have simultaneous ringing, or ring each in a specific order. 

4. Add Call Routing Rules 

Once your caller has selected an option in your phone menu, you can create routing rules to direct call transfers and how it's filtered. These pre-set rules serve as a switchboard for the auto attendant, which you can modify online at any time. Telzio offers a suite of useful features to help you filter and route calls, including: 

Learn more about all the calling features included with Telzio.

5. Choose phones

With Telzio, you can route calls to employees on desk phones, computers, and mobile devices. 

  • Office Phones - Purchase preconfigured desk phones and cordless phones from our shop. Unsure which phone is right for you? Check out our post What's the best business phone?
  • Telzio Webphone - Use our web-based softphone to make calls directly through your browser. There's no installation required. 
  • Telzio Mobile App - Route calls to employees on their mobile devices so they can field calls from any location. There's no additional cost to add users with Telzio. Learn more about Telzio Users.

Efficiently Route Callers

It used to be that businesses had a whole staff of people who would serve as switchboard operators. The advantage is that you would talk to the reassuring voice of a human being, and be transferred to the line that you needed. Auto-Attendants have opened another cost-effective option for small businesses to compete with larger companies. Now that auto-attendants are viable, you don’t have to worry about having a big task force dedicated as operators, making room for more budget to be spent elsewhere. Your first sign that you need an auto-attendant is when you discover that having one person answering the phone all day just isn’t enough.

After all, many people who call your business should know the exact person that he or she should talk to. Therefore, using a menu that greets the caller with “if you know the extension, please enter it at any time” is very useful.

Once you have set up your auto-attendant system, people in your business can have their extensions on their business cards. A virtual phone menu can send callers to employees' cell phones via the Telzio mobile app as well as to internet-based desk phones. Small business phone systems from Telzio offer functionality and flexibility that makes it easy for your customers to reach you anywhere.

Provide Callers with Quick Information

In addition to an automated attendant system that can direct a caller to the right person, sometimes a caller only needs a single piece of information like business hours or reaching a voicemail. An automated answering system can serve this purpose, by having various pre-recorded messages.

Elevate Your Image

A business phone with an auto attendant also lends a certain air of prestige to the company. Callers who hear an automated greeting will know that their call is of importance. Opening your business to an Auto-Attendant not only benefits you but grants the callers with more contact options. 

If your business is at the point where you need an automated phone system, you should check and make certain it is set up for:

Telzio offers the best auto attendant system for small businesses, where you can easily set up all of these features. 

Customize Your Own Auto-Attendant in Less than 5 Minutes

We've already created a custom auto-attendant greeting with your company name that you can start using right when you log in. (Our system is programmed to automatically generate the greeting when you sign up with your company name!) Sign up for your free trial to hear it now. You'll be provided with a live test number that you can keep or swap out when you're ready to move forward.

Jennifer Chen

Jennifer is part of the content marketing team at Telzio, providing insight and tips on how Telzio can be used to optimize business communications and customer service.