If you run a small business, you have to be creative when it comes to how you spend your time and resources. If you work from a home office, the previous statement is even truer.  Working from home has quickly become the norm due the coronavirus pandemic. Once you’ve nailed down the basics, such as getting great Internet service and choosing the right wireless router for your home office, you should look for ways to increase your efficacy but decrease your stress. We suggest utilizing cloud-based tools and applications, but there are benefits to these tools that people may overlook. One underrated business technology is called an auto-attendant.

            If you’ve heard the term before, but you find yourself asking, “what is an auto-attendant?” you have come to the right place. Using context clues, you could likely determine at least some of what an auto-attendant does for a business. An auto-attendant is an advanced call feature that essentially acts as a business’ virtual receptionist. Whether your customers need information or to be transferred to a specific employee, an auto-attendant can help them and help you save time and money simultaneously.

            A simple auto-attendant script example would include a short greeting and a menu such as, “Press 1 for business information, press 2 for customer service…” and so forth. The recording that gives out business information like location and hours may not seem like an incredibly important part of the business, but it is. An effective auto-attendant is arguably as important as having a great website. Even with the popularity of the Internet, many consumers still prefer calling businesses directly with questions or requests. This means that your auto-attendant will provide your business’ first impression to many customers or potential customers.

            Auto-attendants can greet callers, deliver business information, and forward calls by extension—all clear benefits for your customers. What you may not realize is the depth of benefits an auto-attendant can provide for your business as well. For starters, the cost savings are undeniable. Hiring, training, and paying a receptionist costs significantly more than implementing an auto-attendant, and an auto-attendant can handle more customers more efficiently than a person could; an auto-attendant means no missed calls. You can also customize auto-attendant greetings to go along with your brand and style. This will make your business appear more professional. 

            If you are unsure how to phrase your auto-attendant message(s), the Internet is full of auto attendant script examples. Make sure to consider whether or not you need multiple messages. For example, you may have information that is only important after business hours, and you could set a different, professional message for the times your doors are closed.

            During the current coronavirus pandemic, business continuity and staying connected to customers are more important than ever before. If your business is still operating during the pandemic, there is a good chance you have more interest and potential customers than usual. An auto-attendant can help you serve everyone without wearing yourself out. If you worry about potential issues associated with using technology instead of a human being, you will be glad to know that many auto-attendant systems allow you to give callers the option to connect directly with a person if their needs can’t be met with the auto-attendant. 

            If the entire concept of an auto-attendant is unfamiliar to you, you may need to make some adjustments to your existing phone system before using an auto-attendant. A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system is the best way to set up an auto-attendant. By leveraging the cloud and working over the Internet instead of traditional, physical phone lines, VoIP phone systems are efficient and cost saving. You can set up an auto-attendant service for your business without VoIP, but it will likely be more difficult and more expensive.

            If you are running a small business and have already mastered things like screen sharing and video conferencing, it is time to give your phone systems some love. Beyond utilizing the cloud-based VoIP phone system, remember to choose a professional message (both in content and choice of voice) and keep it short and sweet. An auto-attendant dial by extension introduction is not the place to tell your life story.