The auto attendant feature of your cloud hosted PBX professionally answers calls to your business, and routes those calls to whichever extension or phone number you’ve set up.
Auto Attendant and IVR – What’s the Difference?
You’ll often see “IVR” and “Auto Attendant” used together because these two customer-facing services are often provided together by VoIP service providers. The IVR and Auto Attendant feature combination is a key feature for cloud-hosted PBX service offerings. These are actually two distinct features that work together to provide a good experience for callers.
The Auto Attendant is a “virtual receptionist” used to transfer inbound calls to a caller selected extension. Callers with touch tone service (DTMF) can dial an extension directly, or wait for an operator. Auto attendants often are provisioned with a dial by name directory, and have the ability to do some basic navigation, along with voice mail options for each extension. Auto Attendants that come with cloud hosted PBX services can now also forward calls to cell phones and other numbers.
The IVR is also a like a virtual receptionist, just far more powerful than the Auto Attendant. One difference between many IVR installations and Auto Attendants is that IVR’s can usually accept either DTMF touch tone input or voice input.
A second major difference is that, in addition to the functions of the Auto Attendant, the IVR can launch pre-programmed applications to lookup account balances, query movie times, check rental car availability, or perform simple banking transactions. There are many applications available, and new applications can be developed and customized for nearly any business need.
Combining Auto Attendant and IVR
It is logical to combine the Auto Attendant and IVR functionality into one powerful feature. The reason for this is that planning the user experience really covers both basic Auto Attendant and enhanced IVR capabilities.
In our article Plan IVR Auto Attendant by Customer Intent, we explained how planning the user experience helps get the user to a solution as quickly as possible, leading to customer satisfaction and customer retention. To make this happen, we showed planning auto attendant and IVR navigation by customer intention. So instead of making the customer figure out which buttons to push to possibly solve a problem or need, you can present buttons that are each a solution or that clearly lead to a solution.
For example, if customers need to visit the “consumer sales department” for refunds and returns (instead of customer service), don’t offer a menu selection “consumer sales department” but instead offer “refunds and returns” as an option. By offering menu choices that align with customer needs, you’ll save your staff a lot of time, and really please customers, potentially increasing customer retention and gaining referrals from satisfied customers.
Auto Attendant – References
- Auto Attendant
- Plan IVR Auto Attendant by Customer Intent
- Interactive Voice Response – Taking a Closer Look
- Wikipedia Defines Automated Attendant