Automated Attendants

Most companies need some type of answering service, or automated attendants, to pick up calls when they are closed, busy, or away. Depending on the size and needs of the business, there are many options to answering services that will fit the needs of the company.

1. What is an Automated Attendant?

Automated Attendants can be known as an auto attendant or AA. These systems allow incoming callers to be transferred automatically to the owner's extension without having to use a live person, usually a receptionist. If a person needs to talk to a real person, most systems will allow them to press a number or symbol for an operator. Most modern systems, such as PBX and key phone systems come with automated attendants as a standard feature, but these can also be installed on standard phone lines, as well.

When one calls and receives a company's automated attendants, there are usually some types of directories implemented on the system to find the person or area they are looking for. Some have a "dial-by-name" system set up, where the system lists names by the last name. A caller can then press # or a similar symbol on their phone when that name is announced, and it will automatically call that persons extension. A more popular system asks the caller to dial a person's extension automatically if it is known. If it is not, the caller can then listen to a list of choices to get their call directed to the right person.

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2. Automated Attendant FAQ

There are many different uses that various places will have for automated attendants. Mainly, it is to free up lines from callers who have the same general questions that can be easily answered, such as company hours, directions, and more. After these messages are played, the caller will have an option of hearing more messages, or to be transferred to a receptionist if they have a question they can't find the answer to. These automated attendants are also used frequently for government programs, information numbers, and even colleges and school systems.

There are other features that can be used from an automated attendant system, such as transferring a call to an outside phone line or connecting two different companies using wide-area networking. Automated attendants should be programmed very carefully, so that a caller can get the information they need quickly and easily. Too many large companies make a caller go through an endless series of menus before they can actually get the answer that they need, or make it near impossible to get to a live person.

For a 7 day free trial call ReceptionHQ. Call 888-491-6753

3. Tele-a-Greeter

One type of automated attendants is called telephone greeters, or a tel-a-greeter. When a caller phones into a company, a tel-a-greeter answers the call and then screens them with an informative type of greeting. Callers can choose from pre-recorded messages or opt for a live pick up from a real person to help them. Most tel-a-greeters are made to handle a number of calls at a time, with different lines that pick up the same phone number.

There are many reasons that a company or business uses telephone greeters. Many calls that come in are people asking the same types of questions, such as the businesses hours of operation, directions, and so forth. Telephone greeters can handle these types of calls by offering the right message for the right question, thus freeing up a staff's time. Messages recorded on these telephone greeters can typically be done on location, or even remotely using a special code. They are usually password protected, so not just anyone can access and change a greeting. Most systems also feature separate day and night messages, and hold messages can be programmed to the owners liking.

There are different types of telephone greeters that can handle a different amount of business and calls. Automated attendants systems are customized for a variety of businesses.

For a 7 day free trial call ReceptionHQ. Call 888-491-6753

4. Automatic Call Distributor

An automatic call distributor, or an ACD, is a system that diverts incoming calls to different areas of a business. This may be part of a bigger system, which utilizes computer telephony intergration. Another term for this type of service is a call router. These types of systems are most often used in a large business, those that handle large amounts of incoming calls from people who don't need to talk to a specific person but from anyone from a specific area, such as customer service representatives. An ACD can be a small system designed to only handle a few phone lines, or a larger one that can handle hundreds of lines at a time.

Using an automatic call distributor system will consist of hardware for the terminals and switches, phone lines, and different software. The system that routes the calls will be given a set of directions that will tell the ACD how to handle the incoming calls, usually by a type of algorithm that helps determine where the call is best directed to. Usually, a type of interactive voice response will be used to figure out the reason and direction for each incoming call.

Any type of business can benefit by utilizing an automatic call distributor, but they are most beneficial to customer service centers and government agencies that handle an extreme amount of call volume.

For a 7 day free trial call ReceptionHQ. Call 888-491-6753

5. Answering Machines

An answering machine is a device that has been around for over 100 years, and may also be known as an answer phone or telephone answering device. This is an older-fashioned device that allows callers to leave a message for a person if that person is not at home or unable to answer the call. The first answering machine systems were installed typically right next to a person's phone. They could also be incorporated into the telephone. The user could then record a message, stating that they were not there, or whatever message they wished. A caller who got the answering machine would then leave a message for the person, after hearing the pre-recorded one.

Early types of answering machines used magnetic tapes, similar to cassette tapes, to store messages. These tapes could become full, be rewound, and be erased when needed. However, modern technology has since introduced solid state memory storage. Many of these units are now incorporated into the telephone itself, so there is no need to have a separate unit as before. The unit can usually be set to let the phone ring a number of times before it gets picked up by the answering machine. Answering machines are almost a must in today's busy world, for both personal and business use. An answering machine is especially effective for small business owners who don't want to miss calls, but do not need larger services such as automated attendants.

For a 7 day free trial call ReceptionHQ. Call 888-491-6753

6. Voice Mail

Voicemail is a recording device that directs your calls to a message system when they go unanswered. This system can be used either on a personal telephone, cell phone, or business phone. There are many advantages to the use of voicemail. Voicemail lets a user retrieve and send messages 24 hours a day. Most voicemail systems can store a very high quantity of messages for a certain amount of days. Recordings from a caller can generally last longer than a normal answering machine can, and this type of system doesn't need any special phone equipment or phone lines.

If a telephone or cell phone is shut off, an incoming call is usually automatically diverted to voicemail. The same may be true if a caller is already on the other line. Many different extensions can be set to share the same voicemail mailbox, so all calls go to the same place. Many voicemails are password-protected, an extra security feature available to users.

Business voicemail can play an important part in today's business needs, especially for a smaller company. Voicemails can be set to retrieve multiple voice and fax mailboxes, with auto-attendants and hold music. You can generally use a local number or a toll-free number that includes the use of voicemail.

For a 7 day free trial call ReceptionHQ. Call 888-491-6753

7. Answering Machine Software for Computers

New technology has allowed the use of computers to act as answering services. Businesses and companies can purchase computer answering machine software that allows your computer to receive calls while the user is busy or away. This feature can capture caller ID, and allows the user to screen and/or block calls. This software can let you customize personal greetings for everyone in your address book, and can alert you of calls that have come in through the use of emails. These emails can be sent directly to your cell phone, pager, or PDA.

There are many reasons to try this advanced software, which can also work in ways that telephone greeters do. This system can be set to forward any telemarketing calls to a bulk call folder to let you sort through at a more convenient time. You can personalize and manage a built in address book, which then lets you personalize greetings for certain callers. Most systems are designed to handle numerous voicemail boxes, and are password protected for the user's safety. Users can retrieve their messages remotely, either by a password or by having their call messages sent to their cell phones in the form of an email. The recording lengths are usually an unlimited amount of time, and you will know when you have a new call by the built in flashing icon. This computer answering machine software is usually easy to install and set-up, and can be done by anyone.

For a 7 day free trial call ReceptionHQ. Call 888-491-6753

8. Personal Computer Phone Recorder

This answering machine service is another type that uses telephone recording software that can run on a Microsoft Windows platform and can use a voice modem to record calls. These calls can be both outgoing calls and incoming calls. A built in address book is a popular and convenient feature of these PC phone recorders as you can program the device to selectively record incoming calls. Caller ID is also available. This system can monitor outgoing calls and also automatically records a call if a voice is detected. This system also allows the user to receive updates on the messages they receive through emails to their cellular phones or paging devices.

There are other additional features that one can use with this phone recorder. Memos or notes can be attached to any calls that have been logged into the system. A built-in search tool helps the user find their messages quickly and easily. The recording lengths are usually unlimited, and the system can be programmed to announce a legal disclaimer that the call will be recorded, an essential business move. These phone recorders are often offered as free trials for personal and business use, with the option to opt out or buy the program at the end of the trial. If they are purchased, they are typically easy to set up and install.

For a 7 day free trial call ReceptionHQ. Call 888-491-6753

9. Reasons to use a Phone Recorder

There are many reasons why a phone recorder can be useful to oneself or a company. Most recorders will allow you to start recording at anytime, with the simple click on its toolbar. That way, you can record the conversation pieces that you want. Telephone recorders can keep permanent phone records. You can then memo them so they can be referenced easily, and many programs also come with built-in search tools. This allows you to find old messages much easier. Recorders can be programmed to capture the caller ID of an incoming call, and then distinguish it from calls that you want recorded. It will only record calls from numbers that the user has selected, thus eliminating recordings that are not needed, such as from friends.

Recorders can give you instant access to incoming calls, from emails sent to your phone or pager. This way, you will never miss an important call, even while on vacation. Finally, many phone recorders have the ability to log millions of phone calls, with unlimited recording length and storage capability. This is only limited by your personal computer's hard disk. You will then be able to retrieve messages years, even decades, later.

For a 7 day free trial call ReceptionHQ. Call 888-491-6753
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