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What is an Automated Attendant?

 In Blog, Technology, Unified Communications, Voice


An Automated Attendant (aka Auto Attendant, Virtual Receptionist, Digital Receptionist) is an application that answers calls in order to provide information and transfer callers along a phone tree based on user input. They were created after the advent of PBXs (What is a PBX?) to free up operators who would otherwise have to transfer each caller within the organization.

Early automated attendants relied on touch-tone (DTMF) input for user menu selections (i.e. “Press 1 for Customer Service”), but systems driven by voice recognition, such as CX-E, are replacing them.

Common auto attendant functionality includes:

  • Transferring callers to a specific extension
  • Transferring callers to a designated voicemail box
  • Transferring callers to an operator
  • Playing recorded messages
  • Menu & nested sub-menu navigation systems, possibly including an extension directory
  • Alternate messages or functionality that can be enabled by the organization or based on a timer (i.e. “we’re closed right now, call back between the hours of…”).


Is an Automated Attendant the same as IVR?

Though automated attendants can perform some of the same functions as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) software, IVR is generally much more sophisticated in terms of its abilities.

IVR programs can be written to accept a variety of user input to store in databases and output a variety of information via text-to-speech reading of called database entries. This allows them to do things like provide callers with details of their accounts, accept credit card payments over the phone, and confirm upcoming appointments, all of which would be too complicated for an Automated Attendant.


The CX-E Auto Attendant Difference

While Automated Attendants can be huge time savers for organizations, they also can be impersonal and frustrating. Sometimes callers are left feeling like the organization “doesn’t care about them” or is avoiding their calls.

A more sophisticated Digital Receptionist can go a long way towards bridging the gap between what a company needs and a customer wants, turning the interaction into a win-win situation.

In addition to the basic features listed above, the CX-E auto attendant offers a range of other powerful functions, such as:

  • DNIS & Trunk ID Routing
    The system automatically recognizes how the caller reached the auto attendant and presents them with a customized set of menus based on that information.For example, the same system can supply menus for both Spanish and English-speaking callers based on whether they called a Spanish support line or English support line number. Rather than starting callers off at the top of the phone tree, individual departments can be given phone numbers that funnel callers down into a smaller, department-specific menu.
  • Personalized, Extension-Specific Menus


Rather than having a “one size fits all” approach, CX-E allows administrators to set up customized sub-menus for callers who reach a specific extension. This means that people trying to reach the company president don’t have to be given the same options as those calling the maintenance department.

  • Voice Recognition
    Automated Attendant extension directories are often a source of frustration for callers because they have to sit through long recorded lists of options and/or guess which sub-group the person they’re trying to reach is in. CX-E’s voice recognition-enabled directory system makes connecting as easy as verbally telling the system who you want to talk to.
  • Call Screening
    Rather than just having the phone ring the moment the system connects the caller, CX-E can instead ask the caller to identify themselves & pass that information along to the recipient. Based on the recorded caller name, the recipient can then decide whether they want to accept the call at that time.
  • Call Queues


It can be incredibly frustrating to navigate a phone tree just to hit the end of your search at a busy extension with no recourse but to hang up and try again later. Not only does CX-E make the whole process of connecting more streamlined, it can be configured to put callers in a queue while an extension is busy, so their call can be answered immediately after the current one.


How XMedius Can Boost Caller Satisfaction

XMedius’s Unified Communications platform can empower staff and customers with a range of applications including the full featured Auto Attendant, full IVR functionality, and smart call routing based on presence, Exchange calendar, and geolocation.

If you’d like to learn more about how our solutions can cost-effectively bring powerful new functionality to your existing communications infrastructure, reach out to our team for more information.





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