In 2014, there was a 40 percent increase in calls to businesses across industries.¹ That’s not surprising, considering 75 percent of consumers say that the quickest way to get a response from a company is through a phone call and over half of people who do a mobile search for a business go on to connect with them over the phone.²
That indicates that, despite the prevalence and importance of digital communication methods, your business is still likely to receive a significant (and increasingly) number of phone calls that will demand your employees’ time and energy.
To handle calls effectively, many companies are now using auto attendants, something we’re also familiar with from personal experience. Also known as a “digital receptionist,” an auto attendant is a phone system that promptly greets, advises, and transfers callers who dial your company’s primary office line. It quickly provides clients with the information they need and routes them to the appropriate employee or department – without an interaction with a live operator.
An auto attendant phone system is a great way to increase your employee productivity and efficiency because it has the ability to:
1. Provide basic information
When clients call the company to find out about your holiday hours, locations, return policy, and directions, they don’t actually need to speak to a live employee. In these cases, your auto attendant can handle these inquiries on your behalf, saving everyone time.
2. Block spam calls
Spam calls are more and more common. In 2017, only 3.7% of calls were attributed to spam, while in 2018 29.2% were spam.³ As mobile phone users, we’re all familiar with the rise in spam and robo calls that interrupt our days, but businesses are a less recognized target of these calls.
Spam calls take valuable time away from your staff, slashing efficiency and frustrating employees so they’re less likely to provide high-quality service to legitimate callers. An auto attendant can help block spam calls and ensure your employees are free to handle high-value tasks and care for your customers.
3. Route calls more efficiently
Without an auto attendant, clients need to wait on hold, speak to a live employee, and state their reason for calling before being transferred to the right department. The issue becomes even more concerning when calls aren’t routed correctly to begin with. Eighty-nine percent of customers become frustrated when they need to repeat their issue to multiple representatives.⁴
An auto attendant streamlines this process by automatically routing callers through an interaction with the phone system, helping them get to the right representative faster, without lengthy explanations. However, it’s also worth noting that customers will become frustrated if your auto attendant doesn’t provide them with helpful options, so make sure you take the time to set up your system correctly and test it with volunteer callers before implementation.
4. Enable digital interactions
Your auto attendant can be configured to allow callers to interact with the system and complete certain tasks. For example, your clients can change their credit card information, pay their bill, or update their address on the phone, without ever having to speak with a live employee.
5. Deliver voicemail via email
The best auto attendants come with voicemail delivery via email, which allows your employees to read voicemail messages left by callers. This feature alone has the potential to save thousands of hours per year, which your employees can apply to more important initiatives.
Use an Auto Attendant to Free Up Staff for High-Value Tasks
With an auto attendant, all of the above tasks can be accomplished without the help of a live receptionist or employee – so your staff can focus their energy and resources on higher-level projects. In this way, an auto attendant phone system increases employee efficiency and productivity and benefits your entire organization.
Editor’s Note: This article was most recently updated in 2019 to reflect recent market changes that affect businesses and employees. It was originally published in 2016.