As I approached the elevators to head to my fourteenth floor hotel room recently, I was met with the elevator selector pictured here. Someone on the design team of this elevator company felt 100 percent positive that this selector was designed clearly so I would have no trouble at all in choosing whether I wanted to go up or down. You may think so as well.
But look closely…
If you wanted to go Up, do you push the button that the Up arrow is pointing to? Or the button beside the Up arrow? It kinda looks a little circular to me, and that could get frustrating!
Hereâ€™s what this elevator selector has to do with phone systems. Too often, the Auto-Attendant is set up on the fly by whoever is installing the phone system. Sure, the installer has tried to get the business owner or manager to tell him what options to program, and what to say, but the truth is, the business owner is thinking â€śPhone Systemâ€ť at that point, not â€śCaller Experience.â€ť See, those are two different parts of the brain!
How many times have you called a phone system that sounds like this: â€śThank you for calling XYZ Corp, where we really value your business! If you know your partyâ€™s four-digit extension, you may enter it at anytime. Please press 1 for Sales. Please press 2 for Service. Please press 3 for Parts. Please press 4 for Accounting. Please press 5 for Human Resources, or press 0 to reach an operator. Press 9 to repeat this message.â€ť
Thatâ€™s even hard to write, must less listen to over the phone! And hereâ€™s why: When you give the number before the option, I have to hold that number in my head while I listen to the option, and I have to analyze whether or not thatâ€™s the option I need. After listening above, Iâ€™ve got a total of seven options in my head, and they are all jumbled together. Because Iâ€™m not calling to push a numberâ€¦Iâ€™m calling to go to a department.
If you list the department first, followed by the option (â€śTo reach sales, press 13â€ť) the department name, â€śclicksâ€ť with what Iâ€™m looking for in my head, making it a very easy choice to press 1. If I donâ€™t need the Sales department, I can simply forget about that option altogether, and move on to the next one.
Thereâ€™s a time to answer the phones with a live person. And thereâ€™s a time to use an Auto-Attendant. (Do you know which one to use when?)
When you decide to use an Auto-Attendant, make sure the options are clear, and easy for your caller to understandâ€”not confusing like our elevator. If you confuse your callers, they wonâ€™t know which way is up! (and they will go for the last option they hear by pressing 1â€ł!)
So what does your Auto-Attendant sound like from the callerâ€™s perspective?