Exactly What is an Automated Attendant?

What is an Automated AttendantWhat is an Automated Attendant is something that people new to hosted telephony often ask us. Often referred to as Auto Attendant, AA, AutoAttendant, or even Virtual Receptionist, an Automated Attendant is one of the most important features on a hosted telephone system because it’s the first point of contact for inbound callers. In this post, we’re going to review the different types of Auto Attendants, use cases, and other elements as well. Our goal is to bring you all of the information you need to answer confidently the next time someone asks you what an auto attendant is.

What Kinds Of Auto Attendants Are There?

This question can be a bit misleading because, although they can be presented in a variety of ways, all Automated Attendants are effectively the same technology. That said, how a business chooses to use it, or how their VoIP provider makes it available, will determine what the final Auto Attendant looks like.

  • Simple Menu System – This is the most basic Auto Attendant you can have with an easy to navigate recording of a business’ extension options. Typically this is a computer generated or pre-installed voice recording and has little or no preloaded branding available for a business.
  • Recorded Greeting – This method of using an Automated Attendant lets a business leverage some personality or seasonal promotion. By recording your own messages (or leveraging a professional recording option), you can have the actual voices of your team members on the recording. Also, this is a good way to rotate the message to highlight events on the calendar.
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System – Not to be confused with an actual Auto Attendant, IVR’s are designed to achieve the same type of directory services but include added functions for systems that take voice activated bill pay, customer service, etc. These systems are very expensive and rarely used outside of large enterprise organizations and, for the sake of telephony, are viewed as a distinct system to traditional Automated Attendants.

Why Use Auto Attendants?

Use cases for Automated Attendants vary as widely as the types of companies that employ them. The cost savings of an Auto Attendant system, though, are generally reason enough for most businesses to entertain experimenting with them. Combine the simplicity and reliability of leveraging a virtual receptionist with the overall benefits of a hosted business phone system, and most businesses that try an Auto Attendant will generally never go back to a traditional phone system ever again. Some of the benefits of a hosted system that pertain to an Auto Attendant specifically, however, are below.

  • Professional Image – Adding an automated greeting to an on-site business phone system is incredibly costly. That’s why many businesses employ a hosted VoIP option as a way to promote a larger, more professional business image to callers, well before even actually speaking to them on the phone.
  • Save on Overhead – Having an Auto Attendant is like hiring a receptionist who never takes sick days, always shows up on time, and is willing to work for free. All jokes aside, virtual receptionists are literally that, hosted telephony’s cost-saving answer to the headaches of hiring dedicated phone receptionist staff.
  • Improved Call Navigation – Not to be overlooked is the simple ease of use benefit that callers who encounter an Automated Attendant experience. By streamlining the menu options to inbound callers with an Auto Attendant, businesses can also shorten the path for callers to get their support, sales, and miscellaneous needs met.
  • Increased Efficiency – Having a virtual receptionist is more than just a cost saver, it’s also a one-way ticket to increased productivity on a team. By eliminating calls to the wrong people and by freeing employees from the diligence it takes to keep an ear open for the phone, they are also liberated to focus more on getting the job done throughout the day.

Auto Attendants Are Just The Beginning

Automated Attendants are definitely one of the most popular and most widely used elements of a hosted business phone system, but they represent only a small fraction of VoIP’s total capabilities. Modern day VoIP telephone systems for businesses include an entire battery of intelligent, mobile, and integrated options that are either cost-prohibitive or simply unavailable on traditional PBX platforms. To experience the total battery of VoIP features with no risk, businesses can take a free, 14-day trial of a hosted phone system with Auto-Attendant included. Now, with the information above and the opportunity to try a phone system for yourself for free, there should never be a need to ask what is an Automated Attendant ever again!

Leave the Office for Valentine’s Day

leave the office for valentines dayTo be honest, most people don’t need a reason to leave the office because they typically have a few on standby and ready to go. But reasons to leave the office for Valentine’s Day are a little more understandable because most folks also understand the importance of spending the day or evening with a special someone. We spend a lot of time talking about the flexibility of our hosted communication systems because they are just what the situation calls for when you need to be working but also be somewhere outside of the office. What I want to address here, though, is that sometimes you need to leave the laptop at home for a while.

When Working Remotely is a Liability

I was fortunate enough to take a special, pre-Valentine’s Day outing over the weekend to the old growth redwood forests of Northern California. To do this, I had to rely on a combination of working around an absence and trusting I had the right tools to get the job done while I was away from the office. Fortunately, that trust comes easily for me because I rely on the recently updated VirtualPBX Softphone App on my smart phone and Follow Me Calling that forwards calls to me on any device or number I choose for when I’m not right at my desk or laptop. The flexibility that these tools offer me to stay in constant contact when I need to be working are invaluable for when I need to leave the office. Okay so that’s it, right? End of story? Not quite.

Leave the Office, or Leave the Office Behind?

Normally, for folks like us, when there is a need to work remotely that gets met with remote telecommunications tools we consider that a happy ending. While that remains the case, there is something else to consider with this particular instance of being flexible with your work schedule; sometimes it’s necessary to leave the phone behind. We’re just as focused on designing and delivering reliable business phone systems as we are on ensuring that they’re used properly, too. Often times that means leveraging our award-winning VoIP Support Team but also it means reminding remote workers about the dangers of mission creep in an out-of-office environment. When we work outside of the office, we have the tendency to let the clear delineations between working and nonworking hours evaporate. Certainly, this is part of the appeal of working remotely! But there comes a time, and for many folks that time is today, when we need to remember the real important things in life, specifically the people we share it with.

Don’t Catch the Early Train Just to Stay Glued to the Phone

For those of you who are amending your typical work day to accommodate special plans for Valentine’s Day, good for you. I’d urge you, though, to remember that just because you can work from anywhere, perhaps tonight’s special dinner out isn’t the time nor place to practice that. Plus, because you can have voicemails on Dash sent to your email, all of the work you set aside will be patiently waiting for you when you’re done. And for everyone, please remember that Valentine’s Day isn’t solely for couples. Whether you’re on cloud nine or if you’re feeling down in the dumps today, try calling your mom or sibling to wish them a Happy Valentine’s Day. They’ll appreciate hearing from you, and then you can turn off the phone and focus on enjoying all of those fancy chocolates that will be on sale tomorrow.

The Wait is Over! Dash Inbound Call Recording Hits the Full Feature Set

Dash Inbound Call RecordingYou may recall that we opened up a limited time beta test for Dash users to try out the first development of Inbound Call Recording last year. Well, the interest was obviously through the roof and not only did a lot of customers get to try out the best in Inbound Call Recording, but we also got to refine the product just right for its full release. Which, in case you hadn’t guessed it by now, we’re ready to do today! Without any further ado, allow us to introduce you to the all-new and updated Dash Inbound Call Recording!

Dash Inbound Call Recording Hot off the Press

Dash plans already boast an award-winning array of advanced telecom system features, and the list is growing all the time. With the finalized version of the newly-minted Inbound Call Recording hitting the list, we wanted to introduce you to all of the final functions.

  • The ability to select any one of your users’ extensions to automatically record all incoming calls.
  • Multiple methods to access or store your saved conversations.
  • Total freedom of the admin to select which users to get Inbound Call Recording and the ability to activate the feature in just a few clicks of the mouse.
  • A complete how-to set up guide from the experts at VirtualPBX Support to show you how to get your Inbound Call Recording working for anyone on your team.
  • The comfort of knowing that all of your Dash features, Inbound Call Recording, is still backed by VitualPBX 365 Day Support.

Get Started Now

The beta period for Inbound Call Recording has passed but you can still get started with your own Dash VoIP plan for your business including the latest from the Dash engineering team. After you find the right business VoIP plan for your company, reach out to our helpful agents who are standing by right now. Or, if you’ve already signed up and want to let us know how Inbound Call Recording is helping your company, share your story on Twitter or Facebook so that even more people can learn from your success.

Be Home For The Holidays With Auto Attendant

home-for-the-holidaysMaybe you’ve already checked-out for the holidays because you still haven’t gotten over your tryptophan stupor, or maybe you’re the one holding down the fort at the office until New Years Eve. Either way, you can’t deny the fact that a lot of offices turn into ghost towns around this time of year. So what are you doing at work, then? Did you know that you can be home for the holidays without missing out on work? It’s true! Plus, with an advanced telephone system like Dash it’s a lot easier than trying to get an additional few days of PTO from HR, too.

Don’t Abandon Ship, Just Keep Her in Port

Okay, that might be slightly off as a metaphor, but only because you’re actually taking the ship home with you. Hosted PBX telephone systems, or most familiarly know as VoIP, are cloud-based equivalents of the traditional copper-wired lined PBX systems of yesteryear. That means that they are portable and travel with you just like all of the cloud-based applications you already have on your smart phone. For companies that rely on a virtual phone system like Dash, working from home, the in-laws’, or from the road is all just as effective as being in the office. Plus, these mobility benefits are just the tip of the iceberg of VoIP because there are unique features that make business, especially during the holidays, much easier to get done.

Auto Attendant

Of all of the great features that make a modern hosted telephone system superior to an on-site PBX, the most important one for people looking to have a flexible schedule during the holidays is Auto Attendant. Auto Attendant is basically like having someone at the office to field and forward calls for the rest of the team. Furthermore, because all of the features in Dash are fully customizable, Auto Attendant can be used for anything from a simple greeting and call forwarding all the way to delineating an array of extensions and options for your callers. No matter how Auto Attendant is used, however, the fact is that it doesn’t require you or your teammates to be in the office for it to work. This frees up the schedules of everyone who wants to celebrate the season with their loved ones.

The fact that VoIP makes this possible for every occasion from Thanksgiving to Boxing Day might be one of the reasons that 70% of businesses are expected to transition to a hosted telephone system in the next two years . For those businesses that may need more of a reason, though, they can compare the benefits of a hosted PBX over an on-site PBX. Once you’ve decided to switch, join in the conversation with other mobile-friendly businesses by following us on Twitter or Facebook. In the meanwhile, enjoy the holidays and thanks for checking out our blog!

How to Get Inbox Zero in 5 Easy Steps and Stay There

inbox-zeroWe hope you all had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving, and if you’re not over the tryptophan yet, may we suggest a coffee IV? That’s because, in case you haven’t noticed yet, business keeps marching along even during the holidays. The problem many people encounter during this time of year is balancing productivity with a seemingly ceaseless onslaught of scheduling conflicts, out of office notifications, and their own plans to get away. With all of this absenteeism and celebration, it’s no surprise that many companies in the B2B space experience troughs that stretch from November to January. The actual surprise is that in spite of the dip in business, it can still be just as hard to achieve Inbox Zero now as it is any other time of the year. Until you read these next steps, of course.

Inbox Zero is a State of Mind

To prevent a self-defeating cycle of disappointment, it’s important to remember one thing about Inbox Zero before you set out to achieve it. Specifically that the satisfaction of seeing a big zero in the new messages folder is fleeting because, as sure as the sun will rise, you will get another email. In fact, the man who coined the term Inbox Zero, Merlin Mann, wasn’t even referring to the actual number of emails you have, but how much attention you give to them when you need to be doing other tasks. That’s a good point to remember when setting out on the task of streamlining your messages so that you aren’t discouraged when you have to start at it again.

Achieving Inbox Zero

Now that we’ve gotten the existential platitudes out of the way, like many of you, I really just like to see an empty inbox. Inbox Zero means I don’t have a growing list of tasks that I haven’t yet addressed. To get to that mythical promised land, and more importantly to stay there, start by taking these steps-

  • Start by unsubscribing to anything you don’t need to read everyday. You know that vacation sweepstakes you signed up for? It probably came with signing up for several newsletters or marketing emails. And really, do you need to know about the latest in flip-flop developments every week?
  • Consider using multiple inboxes. This process is a way to make sure that emails are organized not by the time they arrive, but by the topics or responsibilities they cover. Setting-up multiple inboxes in Gmail is easy, and this guide will walk you through it.
  • Label everything. Even if you aren’t using multiple inboxes, a strong labeling system will help you quickly read, categorize, and archive for later anything.
  • Archive everything. While we’re talking in superlatives, there’s nothing you should need that you can’t keep in archive once it has passed. Emails aren’t your HR department or finance team, so don’t treat them like the place to store everything. If it’s something that is so important that you have to access it all the time, consider using Google Drive or just saving it on your device.
  • Try ”Yesterboxing.” This is the term that Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh gives to the process of deferring opening one new message until he has opened 10 of his older messages. This is a good way to make sure that whittling down or staying on top of the ever-growing list of emails.

Then Inbox Zero Everything Else

Voicemail is another area that can get backed up before you know it, so take the same approach with that inbox to avoid similar frustration. Do that by employing tools like Auto Attendant and a Virtual Receptionist to make sure that, if you’re unavailable, callers are directed to someone else in the organization who can help them. Or, even better, try employing an intelligent call forwarding system like Follow me Calling that can direct business calls to any other device you want.

By following these suggestions on how to achieve Inbox Zero on all of your devices, you can unclutter your workday, everyday. Plus, because you can access both your email and your business phone from any smartphone, now you can be connected to all of your business communications no matter where your travels take you during the holidays and beyond.

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