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Comparing IVR Auto Attendant Versus a Phone Operator

Whether you’re in the beginning stages of planning your business or you’re making adjustments to your existing phone system, you’ll notice that most current phone systems run using VoIP.  The great thing about a VoIP system is that it gives your phone system a number of capabilities including an IVR Auto Attendant.  But should you ditch your current live-person phone operators for this new VoIP technology?  In this article we’ll be comparing IVR Auto Attendant vs a Phone Operator so you can better decide which option is right for your business.

Comparing IVR Auto Attendant Versus a Phone Operator

When you’re deciding whether an IVR Auto Attendant or a phone operator is right for your business, it’s important to take a few things into consideration.  Each one has their own set of benefits and advantages so to make your decision easier, we’re breaking down each option and diving into the ways you can utilize each of them to their fullest.

IVR Auto Attendant

An IVR Auto Attendant is a VoIP feature popularly provided on virtual phone systems.  This feature is an interactive voice response that replaces the need for a phone operator, because callers can navigate through prompts to deliver their call or receive information.  For example, a person calling a business with an IVR Auto Attendant might be greeted by a pre-recorded greeting prompting them to select the number 1 on their keypad for the sales department or number 2 for customer support.  Rather than having a phone operator manually transfer the call, the phone system recognizes the prompt automatically and successfully routes the call.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of an IVR Auto Attendant

An IVR Auto Attendant is known for being a cost-effective alternative to a phone operator.  Since this feature is normally included as part of your provider’s virtual business phone system, it typically costs only a few dollars a month.

An IVR Auto Attendant is also known for its efficiency.  Because callers can quickly select a prompt to be transferred to a specific department or listen to pre-recorded messages about company information like store hours, it’s known to eliminate long wait times. When callers aren’t stuck on hold or left leaving voice mails, their satisfaction greatly increases.

A significant advantage of the IVR Auto Attendant is that it works 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.  This includes coverage for hours when the business is closed – evenings, weekends, and holidays.  Providing phone operator coverage for holidays, evenings, and weekends is a significant cost that use of an IVR Auto Attendant saves.

The main criticism that an IVR Auto Attendant receives is that it eliminates the “human interaction” that a phone operator has. Some customers appreciate receiving a live person right away when they’re calling a company and others may get confused by the prompts.  Because of this, it’s important to program your IVR Auto Attendant to be quick, efficient and set up to send a customer to a person right away if they’re experiencing issues using the system.

Phone Operator

A phone operator, also sometimes referred to as a receptionist, is a person that a company hires with the responsibility of answering incoming calls. They’re responsible for relaying business information to callers and transferring calls to the correct recipient when prompted to do so.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Phone Operator

Phone operators are popular because all incoming callers are immediately greeted by a live person.  Customers appreciate that because they aren’t left navigating technical prompts with an IVR Auto Attendant.

However, the cost of a phone operator is significantly higher than an IVR Auto Attendant.  With a phone operator, you pay them to work everyday.  This option costs thousands of dollars a year compared to the few dollars you could spend on an IVR Auto Attendant. Because incoming callers have to wait till the phone operator answers the call and correctly transfers it, the wait time is significantly longer as well.

In the end, you need to consider the specific needs of your business to truly decide whether an IVR Auto Attendant or a phone operator is right for you. Understanding the benefits and limitations of each option will help make this decision easier.