Auto Attendant Script: Best Practices

Have you ever called a business, hoping to speak with someone immediately about a pressing issue, then the worst auto attendanthappens, you get hit with an unorganized, unnecessarily long, irritating auto attendant?

Frustrating isn’t it? When it comes to designing your call flow and auto attendant script, don’t make the same mistake. It will only irritate your callers.

Auto attendants don’t have to be frustrating to callers; it can in fact be delightful! There are certain ways to organize your call flow and auto attendant script to minimize caller frustration and get them where they need to go in an efficient manner.

Here are some of the general best practices in Auto Attendant scripting:

1 – Meet Expectations
The number one best practice is to meet the customer’s expectations. Always. Think about when you call your doctor’s office, a store, or a restaurant, for example, what do you expect?

Let’s say you call a restaurant to order takeout. What do you expect? “Thank you for calling The TekGRILL, press 1 for store hours and location, press 2 to order takeout, press 3 to speak to someone in the restaurant.” Sounds pretty easy and straight to the point. The auto attendant divides the calls into 3 main categories, always giving the option to speak to someone in the office.

Realizing how every business is different, your auto attendant needs to be specific to your company and reflect how your company is organized.

2 – Don’t Be Bossy
When recording your script, don’t be bossy. Avoid pushy language. Avoid language that sounds scripted. You want your callers to feel invited, not like someone or something you don’t care about. The worst type of auto attendant script is one that sounds condescending. No body likes to be talked to like they’re stupid.

3 – Use Fewer Words
In the back of their mind, callers already know why they’re calling your business and whom they want to talk to. They shouldn’t have to listen to a paragraph explaining your options. When they call your business, they shouldn’t really notice the auto attendant. It should be slick.

4 – Don’t change options, and if you do, don’t explain it.
Give your callers a little credit! Don’t say, “Please listen closely to our menu as our options have changed…” That just wastes 5 seconds of everybody’s time. This sounds silly, but think about it. New callers don’t care that you changed your menu, and they won’t notice. They just want to talk to the person they’re trying to get a hold of. If it’s a regular caller, they’re not going to listen to the entire menu every time they call anyway. They may just call in and press 3 for sales every time.

Here’s an example of well-executed auto attendant versus a poor one:

Good: “Thank you for calling Texas Roadhouse in Cedar Rapids. Home of the fall-off-the-bone-ribs, hearty hand-cut steaks, Ice-cold beer, and legendary margaritas! For hours of operation or directions, press 1. For information for our call ahead seating program, press 2. To order carryout, press 3. For all other calls, press 4.”

Why is this good? It has personality, it is straight to the point, it gets the caller where they need to go quickly. It’s unique. It’s not bossy. We’re not saying, go change your auto attendant to match Texas Roadhouse, but think about why it is a well-designed auto attendant. See how you can apply some of these same ideas for your callers.

Bad: “Thank. You. For. Calling. MyResturant. Please listen closely as our options have changed. We are sorry we cannot come to the phone right now. If you would like to speak to someone in the kitchen, please press 1. If you want to hear today’s menu, press 2. If you need directions, press 3. If you want to reserve a table, press 4. If you need to know what our hours are, press 5. If you want to place an order, press 6. To speak with a manager, press 7.”

Why is this bad? Well, it sounds like all other auto attendants, scripted. This example uses a ton of unnecessary words, it’s not inviting. There are also too many options, some of them can be grouped together. There isn’t an option for the caller to speak to someone for a general call.

When it comes to writing an auto attendant script, get creative, be conscience, sound inviting. Listen to auto attendants when you call other businesses and make note of the things that bug you. Chances are they bug others too. Avoid those things in your auto attendant.

Good luck!

Born and raised on a horse farm in Marion, IA, Kenyon got her B.A. in English Literature from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. She returned to the area after graduating in 2011, and interned at several different marketing agencies prior to coming on as Marketing Coordinator for Tektivity. In her free time, Kenyon enjoys riding horses, studying ballet, and being with family.

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