Your Auto Attendant is one of the first things your callers hear, which is why it needs to be as clear and effective as possible. You want to make a great first impression, but you also want to make sure you’re anticipating your callers’ needs and can direct them to the correct place.
Many of our clients come to us saying “I listened to your demos and picked a great voice talent for my phone greetings. But how do I write my auto attendant scripts?”
We’ve outlined the process of writing auto attendant scripts to help you get started, starting with understanding how your phone system is set up.
Here’s an overview of how to write an automated attendant script:
1. Understand your phone system’s capabilities for auto attendant greetings and IVR Menu Prompts.
2. Identify your callers’ most common needs (i.e. the main reasons they’re calling you) and the primary goals you have for your callers as a business.
3. Say the most important things first and prioritize your menu options based on the highest demand of your callers.
4. Eliminate any information that can expire or go out of date, including individual’s names.
5. Be specific to set the right expectations and be clear in your messaging.
Let’s look at each step in more detail:
Step 1: Understand Your Phone System’s Messaging Capabilities.
Every business phone system is a little different, but many offer similar phone messaging functionalities. To understand how to set up your automated attendant messages, you’ll first need to understand how your phone system and extensions are set up to pair the right message with the right extension. For example, if your auto attendant has speech recognition, you’ll want to let the caller know that they can press or say the menu option that they want.
Step 2: Identify Your Callers’ Most Common Needs.
Your customers have varying needs when they call your business. Ideally, you can anticipate these needs when designing your auto attendant messages. Many companies opt to set up IVR prompts by department, while others may route callers to specific people.
Many companies choose to include their website URL, physical address, operating hours, or other information where appropriate. This is especially important if your receptionist is answering many of the same simple questions every day that could be addressed via an auto attendant.
Step 3: Say the Most Important Things First and Prioritize Your Menu Options Based on Callers’ Demands.
The order of your menu prompts matters to the caller experience. For example, if most people are calling you to schedule an appointment, then this should be your first option. This can streamline your service to your callers so they don’t have to wade through extraneous information.
Step 4: Eliminate Time-Sensitive Material or Names from Your Auto Attendant.
Unless you plan on updating your auto attendant message frequently, it’s wise to eliminate any time-sensitive information, such as dates or seasonal promotions.
Likewise, you may want to avoid naming specific people and instead opting for their title.
“For the sales manager, please press four.” vs “For Julie Jones, sales manager, please press four.”
If you use specific names, you’ll need to record a new auto attendant message when you have personnel or extension changes.
Step 5: Be Specific to Set the Right Caller Expectations.
Be specific when necessary to eliminate confusion or extra call rerouting. For example, if you want new customers to set up billing with customer service instead of your billing department, let them know in your automated attendant greeting.
Here’s an example:
“If you’re a new customer who needs to set up billing, enter extension 214 for customer service.”
Also, keep in mind that while you want to be thorough, you also want to get to the point quickly. For example, including your store hours is usually unnecessary for when you’re open, but could be helpful in an after-hours message. If you want to provide information like hours, location, or directions to your callers during business hours, consider creating a separate menu option instead of including it in your initial greeting.
Customers who have to wade through too much information may hang up before reaching the right extension. Or, they may start tuning out the recordings and miss their menu option, which means they’ll need to listen to the entire greeting again.
Check out our sample automated attendant greetings and menu prompts in the next sections.