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What is an auto attendant?

An auto attendant is an automated answering service used with a business phone system that directs inbound calls to the right person or department.

An example of an auto attendant would be when you called a company and you are directed to use your keypad to reach the desired department. As a virtual receptionist, you can automatically route calls to your employees without needing a live operator.

Nextiva's auto attendant can become a multi-level auto attendant system for directing calls across your PBX, with submenus.

An automated attendant works like an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system but is primarily based on keypad input and not voice input.

Why do businesses use auto attendants?

Companies use auto attendants to intelligently route inbound calls to their team. It presents callers with intuitive menu options to reach sales, service, or support when they call.

  • Customizable. Create a custom greeting that plays on every call and even route callers based on your business hours.

  • Better Workflow. Answer top customer questions about business hours or FAQs to lighten the load on your team.

  • Customer Experience. Provide a better customer experience by reducing the time it takes to speak to the right person.

  • Improved Trust. Make your small business appear larger with a professional voice recording for your auto attendant greeting.

  • Scalability. When many people call your phone number at once, the virtual receptionist handles them without fail.

  • Smart Routing. Prioritize calls from your toll-free numbers to your call center or contact center instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

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How to set up auto attendants in Nextiva

Creating an auto attendant with Nextiva is easy. Unlike most landline phone systems, you won't pay extra for auto attendants with Nextiva. They are included in our phone service plans.

To adjust your call flows for your auto attendant, follow these steps:

  1. Sign into the Nextiva Voice Portal.
  2. Hover over the Advanced Routing at the top and select Auto Attendants.
  3. From there, you can create or manage an auto attendant.

For more information on what you can do with auto attendants, check out our support article.

Our customers said life became easier after switching to Nextiva.

Eric Siu "We love Nextiva's reliability and features like call pop, free online faxing, auto attendant, IVR and call routing. It gives us the appearance of a bigger, more polished business." Eric Siu CEO, Single Grain
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Auto attendant FAQs

An auto attendant can route calls to various employees or departments. Using an auto attendant, you can set different parameters, like day and night mode. You can even have a completely different message go out if the office is closed for a holiday.

IVR (or Interactive Voice Response), is a far more advanced version of an auto attendant. It uses the verbal commands that a live person would say to the phone system rather than a keypad.

Using an IVR, your automated system can perform more tasks than the simple call routing of an auto attendant.

Both Voice over IP (VoIP) technologies work together to handle high call volumes and meeting business needs.

Yes, not only will you save money using an auto attendant, it will generate revenue for your business. Instead of sending callers to your voicemail when they dial your cell phone, you can handle their call, especially if they want to reach "sales." When someone wants to do business, they don't bother explaining it in a voice mailbox.

You can also configure your auto attendant to automatically route calls to a live operator or answering service. When you're back in the office, you can answer calls from your business phone number.

In a limited capacity, auto attendants have the ability to converse with callers, but through a series of menus (and submenus) to become interactive. Another way a virtual receptionist interacts with callers is through a dial-by-name directory.

Typically, with an auto attendant, you’ll instruct callers such as “Press 1 for sales. Press 2 for customer service.”

Only a more advanced model, like an Interactive Voice Response, can listen to the customer’s speech and respond accordingly. Auto attendants on their own are menu services offering choices that the caller can select from.

Auto attendants provide businesses an affordable and scalable solution to meet your business needs. However, it doesn't have a cheerful, fun personality. You will want to set an auto attendant up with a professional recording for the best possible experience.

Receptionists, on the other hand, are friendly and more caring for customers. They might even recognize callers by their caller ID when their phone rings. For urgent matters, you want a live rep to handle the call.

There's nothing that stops a business from doing both with their VoIP phone system. Use an auto attendant to greet callers and direct them to the proper virtual phone numbers. Otherwise, provide them the option to speak to an operator by dialing zero.

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