Screenshot of dialpad's auto attendant feature

Auto attendant

Whether you’re a newcomer to the UK business market or a well established enterprise, you’re likely to find yourself taking a lot of calls. Need to automatically route them? Dialpad’s unified communications platform has an auto attendant feature that does exactly that. Try it for free. Signup takes just a few minutes, and you'll be set up with a virtual phone number too.

What is an auto attendant in a phone system?

An auto attendant (aka. an auto receptionist) is a type of virtual receptionist that handles call routing for your company’s phone lines. It’s an automatic program that does what a live operator would otherwise do: put you through to the right person to take your call.

Since they’re used for managing incoming calls, auto attendants are crucial for contact centres and call centres (since that’s probably where the majority of companies’ inbound calls go).

Next, let’s look at what you get with Dialpad’s multi-level auto attendant system.

Dialpad’s auto attendant features

Screenshot of dialpad's business phone system with business hours setting

Custom messaging for different hours

If your website says people can contact you from 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, then you’d need an auto attendant or IVR system (interactive voice response) to divert calls to agents working during those business hours. In Dialpad, you can define what hours you want your auto attendant to be active.

Screenshot of dialpad's call queue prioritisation feature

Call flow prioritisation

Say you work at a car insurance contact centre and someone’s car just got stolen. It's not always feasible to have a separate phone number for these kinds of calls—and with Dialpad, it’s not necessary either because you can customise your prioritisation to favour emergency call queues.

Screenshot of dialpad's call routing options

Versatile call routing

Beyond the basic “first available agent” option, Dialpad’s auto attendant has very versatile routing options. You can route calls based on who’s been idle longest, who’s the most skilled, and more. Or, route calls to voicemail (you’ll be able to see caller IDs) or specific teams. It’s like having a secretary who knows the directory for your company by heart.

Screenshot of dialpad's custom greeting upload feature

Custom greetings

Record or upload custom greetings that cover all (or most) of the main reasons why people call your business. This way, your auto attendant can efficiently route the vast majority of your inbound phone calls to the right people without a live person intervening.

Screenshot of dialpad's built-in call analytics feature

IVR menu analytics

If you want to see how effectively your calls are being routed, Dialpad shows you how frequently each IVR menu option is used by your callers. For instance, if people never press “3” to learn about “pricing,” you might remove it as an IVR option to create a more streamlined menu that only covers the things your callers have questions about.

Need an auto attendant for your business?

Sign up for a free 14-day trial to try Dialpad's auto attendant feature—and unified communications platform—for yourself. Or, take a self-guided interactive tour of the app!

The benefits of a having a phone system with an auto attendant

Fewer spam calls

If your business gets a lot of spam calls, an auto attendant can block many of them—without doing anything special. How? Bots can’t press 1 or 2 to get routed to different people.

It allows your employees to focus on their jobs

Given the choice, would you rather your agents spend their time fielding phone calls and directing callers to different departments—or doing high-value tasks like having actual conversations with customers who are having problems or asking more complicated questions? An auto attendant will let them do the latter.

A cleaner call flow

Being able to manage your call flow is vital to running a customer-focused business or contact centre. Even if you’re a small business, you’ve got to be able to efficiently direct the flow of your incoming calls so that your agents don’t get overwhelmed by your call volume.

Happier agents

The better your call flow management, the less legwork your agents have to do in terms of getting information from callers (are they calling to request a credit limit or do they just want to apply for a credit card?), the more quickly they can start resolving your callers’ questions, and the shorter your phone queues will be. That means happier agents—and happier customers.

A more scalable business

If you’re growing your business quickly and doing a lot of marketing, you’ll naturally get more phone calls and enquiries from people and potential customers who want to learn more about you. Auto attendants help you handle larger call volumes at scale—without having to hire loads of people right away. Your virtual receptionist doesn’t mind whether they’re routing calls for eight or 8,000 agents; they’ll do their job just the same.

It’s more cost-efficient

One of the biggest advantages of using an auto attendant? Unlike human operators, virtual receptionists also don’t need to be paid for the hours they spend working for your company. (Nor do they need breaks or time off.) Virtual receptionists can go 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It lets your business handle calls immediately

Why do so many customers prefer live chat or other similar messaging-based channels for contacting companies? Some people don’t like talking, but nobody likes to be kept waiting—and with messaging and live chat, you can generally avoid queues and get instant responses.

That’s why it’s useful to have an auto attendant that can handle your incoming calls immediately. Even if they’re later put into a queue, customers can rest assured that they’ll be able to speak to the right person once they’ve gone through the auto attendant.

A better customer experience

Consistency is the key to happy customers. If customers know that they can always reach the right people quickly when they call you, at any hour of the day, it can go a long way toward customer retention—especially if you’re in an industry that isn’t known for good customer service.

🔎 Case study time:

See why Mediasmith, a creative agency, says, "We use Dialpad’s automated attendant almost exclusively.”

How to choose the right automated phone answering service for your business: 4 must-haves

Robust customer service

Speaking of knowledgeable staff, make sure that your automatic phone answering service comes with customer support included. If you ever run into issues with your IVR or auto attendant or can't route customers properly, it'll really affect your waiting times, call volumes, and customer satisfaction. In other words, it impacts your whole customer experience. So, make sure your vendor has good tech support (and ideally not at an added price).

24/7 call availability

Today, most customers expect to be able to contact businesses pretty much around the clock, so it’s important to offer your customers after-hours call availability. Look for an automated phone answering service that makes it easy for you to offer 24/7 call availability to incoming callers.

A good auto attendant will allow your customers to get in touch with your business in their own time. Automated phone answering services like Dialpad’s IVR feature do just this. Even if you don’t have a live agent on duty around the clock, you’ll still be able to provide answers to all of those common customer questions and queries.

(Plus, that also means that when your live agents are available, they’ll have more time to focus on high-value conversations and complex questions that actually require expert advice and support. Leave the basic questions that can be easily answered by routing callers to an automated service.)

Enterprise-grade security and compliance

When you're choosing an auto phone answering service, make sure you check out the security and compliance standards. This is crucial if you want to keep your business’ information and data protected. The best automated phone answering software vendors will be completely upfront about how they manage client security and the security protocols that they use.

For example, Dialpad keeps business information secure with enterprise-grade security protocols and a 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard. All voice data is encoded in a Secure Real-Time Protocol that ensures encryption, message authentication, integrity, and replay protection. Plus, with Dialpad you have in-meeting privacy settings, and can set a custom data retention policy according to the unique needs of your industry.

Scalability—up and down

Finally, this isn't technically a "feature," but scalability is very important. You’ll want your automated phone answering service to be able to grow with your business. Cloud-based systems like Dialpad are much more scalable than legacy phone systems, and make it possible to add and remove hundreds, even thousands, of users depending on seasonality.

(For example, airlines will have busy seasons during the summer holidays and might need to add lots of new agents to handle the higher volume of calls and messages during that time. But after the busy season ends, they need to be able to remove those users easily too.)

Easily answer and route calls with the best auto attendant phone system

Whether you need just a basic auto attendant for your phones or something that can handle sub-menus and more complicated logic, make sure that it comes as a package in a good VoIP or unified communications platform.

Auto attendant phone systems are typically compatible with everything from cloud-based solutions to more traditional hardware-based PBX systems—but if your business values flexibility, we’d choose something with a mobile app so you can take calls on the go.

Want to streamline your business communications?

Dialpad gives you a unified communications platform that includes a VoIP business phone system and an easy-to-use auto attendant feature. Try it out for yourself!