December 2020 - Netlines

The Definitive Guide to Auto Attendant Scripts (+ Real-World Examples)

Your auto attendant is often the first impression people get when they call your business. It should portray your brand and company image. It needs to be welcoming, polite, efficient, faultless, and professional. To ensure you create such a great first impression you must create auto attendant scripts. The scripts will help you plan the content of the messages and the menu structure.

Planning is important because it helps you ensure your customers have the best customer experience when they call. The script also acts as a record of the auto attendant (AA) menu structure. This enables you to efficiently make changes to your AA system in a logical way.

You can easily write your script, as long as you remember a few simple considerations. In this post, we outline the who, what, when, where, how and why of auto attendant scripts. We also give you some examples of scripts to use in a multitude of circumstances.

What is an auto attendant script?

Your auto attendant script details:

  • the content of the auto attendant messages
  • the structure of the menus

Content

Your AA greeting and main menu are often the first things a potential customer hears about your company. Content of that greeting and the journey the customer experiences during those first few moments is vital. Pleasantly and professionally greet the customer and quickly transfer them to the person they want to speak to.

The content can also include a variety of other useful information such as your:

  • Location
  • Business hours
  • Product and services information
  • Hotline or emergency information
  • Season’s greetings
  • Business closures
  • Legal disclosures
  • Product or services promotions
  • Details of any changes to operations or company structure
  • And any other message that is important to your customers

Structure

The structure of the options menu needs to be well thought out. The script acts as a map of these options. It helps you route the caller through the logical process needed to connect them to the correct person. Ideally, this journey should be quicker than speaking to an actual person. The script also helps you ensure that all callers end up connected to someone who can help them.

image of menu options and hierarchy used for an auto attendant system while planning auto attendant scripts

Why should you use auto attendant scripts?

They help you:

  • portray professionalism,
  • ensure callers are connected to the right person quickly
  • give the correct information.

Your auto attendant script is equal to the training you would give to the person answering your company’s public phone line, such as a receptionist.

Who should use the scripts?

  • Everyone in the company who speaks to the public on the phone
  • Human Resources manager
  • Hired voice talent

In short: every company with an auto attendant. Within that company, everyone who talks to members of the public via the phone should use an AA script. This helps provide a consistent image and branding of the company and ensures colleagues include all the necessary information in their messages.

The scriptwriting needs to be driven by upper management. It might also include the marketing department, reception staff, customer account managers and other heads of departments. Most importantly it should include the person who already answers the phone! They know best what customers want when they call. The human resources manager should ensure the correct part of the script is issued to appropriate staff. It should also be included in any onboarding process for new staff. They can then set up their voice mail correctly.

But who actually will read the script? Who is the person the customer hears when they call? It is recommended that you do not use automated “robot” auto attendants. Research has shown that customers have a negative experience and feel undervalued when dealing with a robot.

So, use a real person. It could be you, someone in your company or a hired professional. It is a great (and cost-effective) idea to use a voice talent. Here you get a professional voice actor to record your messages. You can select exactly the right sounding voice to truly represent your business. Your auto attendant provider might even already employ their own voice talent for you to use.

When should you use one?

You will need to use your script:

  • Before you have an auto attendant in place
  • When first setting up your auto attendant
  • When you have an employee or structure change that affects customers calls (such as office closures or remote working changes due to COVID-19) 
  • When you offer different products or services

You should create your greeting menu script before shopping for your virtual answering solution. Your script will help you determine what kind of auto attendant you need. A small business with only two or three departments and only a few menu options might find they can opt for a basic solution or plan. A multinational corporation with several departments, hundreds of employees and multiple offices will need something a bit more advanced. A script will help you buy the correct solution from day one.

Once you have an automated attendant in place you will need to use the script to set up the messages and menu options. Having a script ready lets you get started with this immediately. Your new auto attendant will start paying dividends straight away!

You can modify the script as your business changes. The script will show you what messages you need to record, change, or delete. It will show you what menu options need altering to maintain an excellent customer experience.

A new product might mean a new message or a change in menu options. Again, the automated attendant script lets you easily identify what changes are necessary.

How do you create the script?

There is a general process to follow when creating an auto attendant script.

  • Start with a greeting
  • Thank your caller for calling
  • Confirm business name
  • Let them know they can dial the extension number if they know it at any time
  • Insert any optional message here – business, product, or marketing information, etc.
  • List menu options
  • Include an option at the end to either listen to the menu again or speak to a representative
  • After 10 seconds, loop back to the start of the menu options. Do not have the attendant hang up!
  • Test your script – role play with your team every caller intent and see if they are connected to the right person. If not, then modify your script.
  • Send your final script to your voice talent for recording
  • Listen to your recorded messages for quality and clarity. Listen for background noise
  • Have your AA service upload the messages and set up the menu
  • Test every option to make sure it works as you intended

You have to focus on the customer experience. While automated answering systems benefit businesses in many ways, your focus should be on how it improves your customers’ journey when they call you.

Find out your customer’s needs. Ask your staff who answer the phones! Have a group brainstorm meeting or collect data by recording customers call intent. Find out what type of caller they are. Are they repeat customers who know the person they need to speak to? Or are they new customers looking for information? This will guide you when it is time to decide on menu options.

If customers often call for simple information such as opening hours, then you can include this in the first part of the message. Your AA has then answered almost immediately a large proportion of callers’ questions.

Also, decide on what optional information you want to include in the callers’ journey. There are standard things like a greeting, thank you and farewell. Do you also need marketing, location or product information included?

Are there any limitations of the AA system you have purchased? For example, the number of extensions, the length of messages etc.

Once you have considered all of these you are ready to start drafting your script. There are several “dos” and “don’ts” for making your script. We can explore some below.

DOs for writing an auto attendant script

  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • Eliminate all superfluous words.
  • Use common structure and options – # to return to the main menu, 0 for operator etc.
  • Tell callers they can dial the extension number any time if they know it.
  • Tell callers if you have changed your menu structure within the last month.
  • Put the most frequently called for option at the start of the menu, then list in order of frequency.
  • Describe the option first then give the number – “for transport team – press 3”.
  • Try to have only three to five menu choices. People will struggle to remember past that.
  • Keep your descriptions concise
  • Remind customers of any online chat options that may be quicker than using the phone.
  • Write out exactly what you want the voice talent to say. Don’t use acronyms or abbreviations if you want whole words.
  • Choose the right voice for your business, fun, young, serious, older, bubbly, excited? Think about the customer demographic and what they would relate to most.
  • If you need to end the call (and it is advised that you don’t and instead lead the customer to somewhere they can leave a message for a call back later) then make sure you thank the caller and say goodbye. This lets the caller know the call is finished and that they can hang up.

DON’Ts for writing an auto attendant script

  • Don’t say please and thank you all the time – “please press 5”. You can start with “please press 1” to be polite but after that, it should be “for sales – press 2”
  • Don’t plug your website unless it is going to answer the callers’ questions or provide the information they are calling for. Often, they will have looked at your site and not found a satisfactory answer. If this is often the case then you should reflect on this and maybe update the information on your website.
  • Don’t say it in three sentences when three words will do
  • Have more than three tiers of menus if possible. Callers become irritated by the end of menu three.
  • Never disconnect your caller, that is just rude.
  • There is no need anymore to say “standard” when talking time zones. “Pacific time” will do.
  • Don’t include www. or https//: in your script. They are useless to a phone customer, but your voice talent will read them out.
  • Don’t include time-sensitive information unless you are prepared to often change your AA.

Once you have completed your first script, then work on the others you might need. For example, out of office hours, holiday promotions, or company shutdowns. They will often be variations of the main script. These specialized scripts help your company sound more human.

We have included some generic examples of the more commonly required automated answering service scripts below!

Auto attendant script examples

General hours – open as normal

This a generic script and a good starting point for you to modify. This is the one you need to create first. It will define the main menu structure for other scripts you need.

Hello and thank you for calling [Company Name]. If you know the extension of the department you are trying to reach, you may dial it at any time.

  • For a Sales representative, please press 1.
  • For our Service department, press 2.
  • For our Technical support, press 3.
  • For Transport and shipping, press 4.
  • If you would like to speak with an Operator, press 0.
  • To repeat this message, press the * key.

After hours and weekends – office closed

Probably the next most important is the after-hours script. This ensures that customers feel valued even if they call out of your normal business hours. It should provide an alternative source of information such as your website and offer them an opportunity to leave a message for a call back on the next working day.

Hello and thank you for calling [Company Name]. Our offices are currently closed. Our business hours are from Monday to Friday 8 AM to 8 PM and Saturday 8 AM to 12 PM Pacific Time.

  • If you would like to leave a message in our general voice mailbox, press 1. Our representative will contact you the following business day.
  • For our company directory, press 2.
  • For directions to our office, press 3.
  • You may also email us at [company email].
  • For more information about our products and services, please visit us at [website].
  • To repeat this message, press the * key.

Company holiday – Christmas – factory shutdown – school holidays

If your business is closed for a regular event, then create a special script so your callers know when they can next contact you. Direct them to other sources of information and thank them for their patience.

Hello and thank you for calling [Company Name]. Our offices are temporarily closed until [date] for [event]. You can still leave us a message and we will call you back at our earliest opportunity. If you know the extension number of the person you are trying to reach, you may enter it at any time to leave a message.

For Sales, please press 1.
Etc.

Disaster recovery – if calling about recent (flood, fire, natural disaster)

Hello and thank you for calling [Company Name]. Our offices are closed at this time due to [severe weather conditions]. You can still leave us a message and we will call you back at our earliest opportunity. If you know the extension number of the person you are trying to reach, you may enter it at any time to leave a message.

For Sales, please press 1.
Etc.

Seasonal greetings – Easter, Christmas, Diwali, Ramadan

Reflect the spirit of your company by offering a festive greeting.

Hello and thank you for calling [Company Name]. We would like to wish you a joyful holiday season and a successful New Year. If you know the extension of the department you are trying to reach, you may dial it at any time.

For Sales, please press 1.
Etc.

Marketing campaigns – calling about latest discounts or promotions advertised

Hello and thank you for calling [Company Name] where we provide [what you do or your slogan]. Did you know we’re offering [20% off] our services right now? Don’t delay — this offer won’t last long! If you know the extension of the department you are trying to reach, you may dial it at any time.

For Sales, please press 1.
Etc.

Individual extension voicemail greetings

Each of your customer-facing staff needs an individual voicemail message. They can record it themselves if you provide a script, or you can have your voice talent record it. It could also be used for their mobile phone message. 

Here is a standard “out of office” script. You will also need them for annual leave, extended leave, and sabbaticals. These scripts should include an easy way for the caller to contact an alternative person during the extended leave period.

You have reached the voice mailbox of John Smith. John is not available at this time.

  • To leave a message, please press 1.
  • To return to the main menu, press #.
  • If you would like to speak with an Operator, press 0.
  • To repeat this message, press the * key.

Other scripts you may require

There are other scripts you may require. You may need messages and menus for each department or to handle a sales queue. You might need an “on hold” system of repeated messages. When you write these scripts remember they should focus on the customer journey and portray your company as a professional, efficient but also friendly business.

The NetLines small business phone app includes an easy-to-use auto attendant feature as part of an all-in-one communication system. Not only can you set up all of your greetings in one place, but you can also add and manage business phone lines and extensions all from the app. see how it could enhance your business communication today!

Categories: Productivity

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