The balancing act for an Auto-Attendant

Auto Attendant, According to Wikipedia,

In telephony, an automated attendant (also auto attendant, auto-attendant, autoattendant or AA, or virtual receptionist) allows callers to be automatically transferred to an extension without the intervention of anoperator/receptionist). Many AAs will also offer a simple menu system (“for sales, press 1, for service, press 2,” etc.). An auto attendant may also allow a caller to reach a live operator by dialing a number, usually “0”. Typically the auto attendant is included in a business’s phone system such as a PBX, but some services allow businesses to use an AA without such a system. Modern AA services (which now overlap with more complicated interactive voice response or IVR systems) can route calls to mobile phones, VoIP virtual phones, other AAs/IVRs, or other locations using traditional land-line phones.

The AutoAttendant has become an integral part of all major companies that employ customer support division. It is hard to imagine a customer directly reaching an agent after dialing the support number. Making the customer jump through many hoops before reaching an agent could also be counter productive. The company in that case is denying instant support.

The key is to balance instant support and keeping the customer at bay. An Auto Attendant that is configured with deeply nested menus are just going to raise the blood pressure of the customer. The same time the customer could have called for getting innocuous info on offers for the month. This customer is best served with an IVR configured to read out the offers.

So what is the best solution? There is no silver bullet. It has to be managed by smartly configuring the Auto Attendant. The option to talk to an agent must be within a button’s reach. It shouldn’t be hidden under 10 level of menus. The home menu that gets read out is the place where most of the optimisation should be done. The options that are frequently accessed by customer must be placed with numbers 1-5 . If a digit ‘9’ is commonly used to talk to an agent for IVRs in that country, then we got to follow the same rule. There is no point being imaginative if it is going to cause confusion to the customer.

Remember, the customer or a potential one who calls the AutoAttendant must always end the call feeling gratified. Thats when the AutoAttendant solution wins.

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