Review: The Automated Attendant (in a Robot Voice)

The future is now. Tron is here. Light sabers on, proton torpedoes ready — engage!

Yes, technology really is taking over. Very soon we’ll all be encased in carbonite while a giant worm named Jabba enjoys entertainment in his private studio. The same can go for small businesses!

But is it really a bad thing? Take the “automated attendant,” for example:

Rating: 4 out of 5

George Lucas, I’m sure, uses one of these. And if Han Solo’s in a rush, he would definitely need one, too.

An automated attendant — also known as an auto attendant, auto-attendant, autoattendant, AA, virtual receptionist, or as I’d like to call it, Mr. Coffee! (“Spaceballs” reference!) — is basically an extension transfer system within a phone line setup that allows a caller access to a numeral menu, by which said caller can press “1” or “2” or “3” or “4” or whatever. Typically the number “0” can allow a caller to reach an operator in case the robotic voices end up sounding too freaky.

PBXs typically include this automated system pretty regularly, and even the more ‘technologically advanced’ IVRs (the T-1000 to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminatah) work well with the nostalgic yet nifty ‘automated attendant.’

But We Hate Those Stupid Systems!

I know what you’re saying — they’re annoying. At least the IVRs work pretty efficiently, but ever since the ’90s, auto attendants have done nothing but aggravate the everyday consumer caller.

I mean, all we want is a freakin’ human being on the phone to discuss our problems of the day! For crying out loud…. Throw me a bone here, people.

Rethinking the Concept for Small Businesses

Consider this:

You’re an entrepreneur. Or you own a small company, contracting something. You don’t have a whole lot of departments. In fact, you probably just have two. And that would probably be you and some other guy. Maybe.

Would an auto attendant be that annoying? At best, it’s about ten seconds out of the caller’s time to be re-routed to the appropriate person he or she wants to contact, and then for the most part a message is left. Simple.

There are no hassles for “press 1, press 2, press 34567891011 or infinity to reach God” or something like that.

Auto Attendants Work Best in Small Settings

That makes sense — for small businesses.

So the truth is it wouldn’t hurt at all for a small business — any small business — to incorporate an auto attendant.

Know your needs, know your consumer demand, and see if you need such a system in your business.

Who knows — it might save you from the Klingons, Cylons, Terminators, and Sith Lords from taking over your planet.

Related Keywords: call center, customer service, communication