We are inundated with auto attendant services on a daily basis, whether it’s a call into a doctor’s office, a local store or a hotel. If you’re like me, you’ve either become so frustrated with some auto attendants that you’ve hung up (while simultaneously swearing at the phone, of course), and given up.
A recent successful call into Bank of America’s customer service line, prompted by a questionable charge on my bank statement, reminded me why it’s so important for any business to ensure callers are met with a clearly paved route to resolution. Already upset by this rogue charge on my debit card, I was relieved when Bank of America’s auto attendant system required a minimal amount of information before I was taken to the appropriate representative (whom I am happy to report went above and beyond to resolve the issue).
To make sure your auto attendant system is properly serving your business and not leaving callers at their wits end, read on for some helpful tips:
Use clear prompting instructions: Make sure prompts are simple and listed in a logical manner. For example, dial 1 for billing office, dial 2 for sales, etc. Some experts suggest providing sub-prompts for systems with more than six prompts, in order to keep your auto attendant as organized and customer-friendly as possible.
Make it more personal: It’s always important to keep the customer in mind when it comes to designing your auto attendant. Every caller is unique and will have different requests; so make sure an array of options are available. For example, provide a dial-by-name directory so callers can connect with a desired party at any time. Or, grant callers the ability to return to a previous menu. Most importantly, always allow your caller the ability to dial zero in order to connect with an operator or voicemail during after-hours.
Just because it’s after hours doesn’t mean your callers should be neglected: I can’t count how many times I’ve called a business, only to find they have closed for the day. Luckily, most businesses provide a laundry-list of information and options, including a listing of regular business hours, the ability to dial extensions by name, an after-hours emergency number, or the ability to leave a voicemail. This way, you can squash any of your immediate frustrations through a voicemail message rather than unleashing it the following day on an unlucky customer representative (unless, of course, no one calls you back).
Keep introductions short and sweet: When a customer has an urgent request, the last thing he or she wants to do is listen to a rambling introduction about your seasonal specials or your company mission. Instead, save those for the on-hold music and provide users the ability to dial an extension.
Make sure your menus make sense!: I cannot tell you how frustrating it is provide all your account information, only to have the auto attendant system bring you back all the way to the beginning of the process. Sometimes, auto attendant menus can become so complicated that the system automatically sends users back to the start of the menu prompts. If this happens, you can ensure you’ll have an unhappy customer on your hands.
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Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell