Small and medium sized businesses can elicit positive customer response through an effective use of a digital phone auto attendant. Face it, we’ve all been turned off by layers-deep auto attendants or interactive voice response systems deployed by larger organizations. However, implemented correctly, smaller organizations can gain the efficiency of an auto attendant and not take a hit with customer service.
Here are some tips to effectively implement your auto attendant:
1. Limit Routing Options and Avoid Multiple Layers – As a general rule, your initial layer of customer options should have no more than four to five selections. If you absolutely need another layer, only implement that layer on one or two of your selections.
2. Keep Your Recording Short and Clear – A short, concise message is appreciated by your customers. This doesn’t mean to “talk fast”, but to keep your options clear in terms of direction.
3. Avoid Qualifications in your Message – An example would be: “if you are an existing customer and if you are looking to add new service...” If you have to segment your approach, such as “sales” to existing and new customers, do that in the second layer with two options.
4. Allow for a Zero-out Option – Although it is your goal to effectively route customers to the right location, customers always like to have the option of talking with someone, even if that means they will need to be routed to the right place for support.
5. Dial by Last Name versus a Party’s Extension – Face it, few “know your party’s extension”, but likely know the last name of the person they are trying to reach. So, eliminate the phrase of “if you know your party’s extension, please dial it at any time” and just include as one of your initial options a selection to access your company directory via the first three or so letters of the last name.
Remember, the intent of an auto attendant is to improve your customer satisfaction. Your options should route the customer to employee hunt groups or primary entry point for that area that will ensure their call will be answered or their message will be left with the right group of people to quickly meet their needs.
About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of digital phone solutions and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.