Auto attendants are intended to be a method of directing calls through a menu so the caller picks the best path for their need. An announcement will be given that should instruct the color of their options, and then they can pick the most appropriate one, but sometimes people are impatient. Sometimes people don’t want to follow the instructions. And sometimes out of frustration they just press buttons. Which buttons are more likely to be pressed out of frustration, which ones are least likely, and how can you get the caller to the right department as painlessly as possible?
Message Best Practices
The introductory message with instructions should be constructed as to allow the most common inputs to be presented first. If inbound callers typically dial extensions then extension dialing should be enabled with a message such as “if you know your parties extension you can dial it at any time”. Generally people will remember the order of button presses if they are in numerical. And if there are more than four or five options the caller can get frustrated.
Which Buttons are Picked
The most common keypress is the ‘0’ key. This is often pressed before the message has even been concluded. If you’re zero leads to an operator and most people are just pressing 0 anyway, there is no need for the auto attendant. By allowing a 0 to go to an operator and bypass the auto attendant itself, you are training your customers to ignore your message.
After 0, the next most common buttons to be pushed are 2, 5, and 8; the buttons down the center. Most auto attendance arrange their departments in numerical order such as 1, 2, 3 etc, and provided your announcement isn’t lengthy and boring, most callers will listen to about four or five options before choosing something.
Where to Place Buttons
Place the departments in order by most commonly called, starting with 1 and ascending numerically. If sales is the department you wish to promote, or the department that you wish most people would talk to, place it on the 1. Customer service, technical support, or retention might follow in order. Then you can place advisory messages such as hours of operation or special promotion on later numbers.
Avoid using 0 to get to the operator if you can help it, and mention that if the options do not apply they can reach a person only at the end of the message. You might even put that operator key behind 7 or 9 which tend to be the least selected numbers.
Buttons to Avoid
As stated before, avoid 0. While you should always have a way to exit the auto attendant to a living operator, it doesn’t have to be the default digit. Give your callers and opportunity to use your auto attendant as it is intended, to select the appropriate department for themselves.
Many auto attendant systems allow you to program using the ‘*’ and ‘#’ keys. These are best used as hidden options. Perhaps your employee sick line can reside behind the * key, or the maintenance tech can be reached through #. You’re not obligated to tell all callers that these buttons exist, but can be common knowledge among your employees.
By using the most effective methods to arrange the keys of your auto attendant, you can do you best to get callers to the most appropriate department as efficiently as possible.