Top 5 Little-Known Benefits of an Auto Attendant

An auto attendant system has all kinds of benefits for a small business: a professionally recorded greeting, multiple extensions, call routing that can send calls to your cell phone, and voicemail-to-email, to name a few. But did you know there are some hidden treasures to this kind of system that can help your company run even more efficiently? Today I’m spotlighting the top 5 little-known features that can give your business a boost.

1.       Group Messaging

Let’s say you run a construction company, and you need to be able to let your team know where they’ll be working today. Rather than call each employee individually, a group messaging feature lets you leave one message that’s immediately sent to everyone who needs it! Group messaging can work with any auto attendant system that has multiple extensions set up, and can even be programmed with different groups for different sets of employees, so your messages only go to the people who need hear them. It’s a fast, easy way to get vital information to everyone in your company.

2.       After-Hours and Holiday Greetings

We’re all familiar with the professionally recorded greeting that an auto attendant provides, but what if your office is going to be closed for the holidays, or you want to provide different options for after-hours callers? Simple: use a different greeting! Phone systems like these can easily set up multiple greetings on one phone number and set them to play after-business hours, on holidays, over your lunch break, whenever you like! The best part is, the greetings automatically switch: there’s no need to manually reset the daytime greeting when you’re back in the office. If you’d like to offer different options to your callers while you’re away, like an extension they can dial for emergencies, those can be programmed to match the greeting. No more worrying that your callers won’t get where they need—the auto attendant can easily let your callers know what to expect, any time of day or night.

3.       Multiple Notification Platforms

Voicemail-to-email is a standard feature of most auto attendant systems, but it’s not your only option. You can receive notification of messages in a variety of ways: a text message, an automated call, even a pager notice. Text and pager notices will send you a text letting you know a new message has been left, so you can call in and listen to it by phone at your convenience. Voice notify is even easier: the system will call you on your preferred number and play an automated message letting you know you have a voicemail, and prompt you to press 1 to listen to be taken right to it. You can even send notifications to multiple numbers to make sure you never miss an important message.

4.       Find-Me Scheduling

“Find-me, follow-me” is another common benefit of your phone system: it sends live calls to you at any number you choose, even your cell phone. But odds are you don’t want business calls at all hours of the night—even entrepreneurs need to take break once in awhile! The answer is another secret feature: scheduling your find-me extension to only ring your phone when you want it to. You can send calls to your desk phone during the morning, your cell phone in the afternoon, and directly to voicemail in the evening. Or, if you have multiple people on a mailbox, you can send calls to one of their phones during the week and to the other employee on weekends. The choice is yours, and it can be changed at any time—find-me scheduling lets you be found on your terms, while still taking care of your callers professionally and efficiently.

5.       Information Boxes

An auto attendant is great for directing your callers where they need to go, but wouldn’t it be great if it could go a step further and answer customers’ questions for you? Good news—it can! An information-only mailbox plays a pre-recorded greeting when selected, then sends callers back to the main menu; it’s a great choice for providing store hours, directions, or letting your callers know about sales and special events. It’s easy to change as needed, and frees you up from all those calls about basic information without leaving your callers feeling neglected.

Even the most basic auto attendant system has a few features that, once you put them in place, you’ll find you can’t live without. Talk to a phone system provider to see which of these features will get your business running at maximum efficiency.

Meghan Bowyer has worked in customer service and special projects at AccessDirect since April 2012. She regularly authors company blog posts about small business tools and trends.