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An automated attendant can be defined as an electronic receptionist, answering and routing incoming calls automatically. Callers hear an opening greeting that gives instructions, information and options. Using the automated attendant, callers can reach a subscriber directly by dialling the extension number during the opening greeting.
The attendant can answer several calls at the same time; it can put callers on hold, inform the caller how many callers are holding ahead of him or her, and update this information periodically. It can screen calls, announce the name of the caller, and wait for confirmation from the subscriber before putting the call through.
In today’s office environment, most telephone systems do not allow an outside caller to dial an inside extension directly. This means that all the incoming calls must go through the receptionist, who routes them to the appropriate extension-a costly and time-consuming process. The automated attendant features relieve a company’s receptionist of these routine telephone tasks. The receptionist can then give better personal service to the callers who need it most. And, if an organization uses a receptionist during the day, the automated attendant can be programmed to handle after hour calls only.
The automated attendant can also be set to answer a specific set of numbers so subscribers and outside callers who know the dedicated number can connect directly to the right person, and the receptionist doesn’t have to waste time transferring calls.

Common Automated Attendant Features:

Answer calls on the first ring

the AA can be programmed to answer calls on the first ring, so incoming calls are handled as quickly as possible.

Caller Interviewing

the AA can interview callers with a series of simple questions through the use of an interview box.

Call Screening

the AA can screen calls that are transferred to a subscriber. The subscriber can decide whether to take the call based on who is calling. When using this feature, the subscriber can, after hearing the callers name, press ‘1’ to accept the call and ‘2’ to transfer the call to voicemail. Subscribers can turn call screening on and off by telephone.

Changeable voice prompts

all voice prompts can be re-recorded to suit the unique requirements of any company.

Daylight-saving schedule

the AA can be programmed to set the clock forward or backwards to automatically adjust for daylight – saving time.

Directory listing

a caller who does not know the extension can enter the first three letters of the subscribers’ name and the system routes the call appropriately. Callers are told the extension number for future reference, if the extension is busy or does not answer, the AA will route to the mailbox.

Holiday schedule

holidays are programmed into the AA each year so the system automatically runs on night mode on each holiday.

Multilingual capability

the system can support different language prompt sets. One system can handle multiple languages at a time. Language choice can be per port or user. Also, a caller can choose a language from a language selection box.

Numeric directory assistance

AA provides directory assistance for outside callers without letters on their telephone keypad. It can be set up to guide the caller through directory assistance using numbers.

One – key dialling

this feature allows a caller to press a single touchtone digit instead of a series of touch tones.

Opening greeting

AA plays a pre-recorded greeting to callers when it answers a call. The organizations system manager records the greeting. The greeting typically includes the organizations name, how to reach an extension, how to reach the operator, how to send a fax, how to reach the directory etc.

Operator assistance

Outside callers can dial ‘0’ for assistance at any time.

Overhead paging

AA can be linked with an overhead paging system (depends on the telephone system integration) For example; callers can be given the option to have the AA page the subscriber if that person does not answer his phone.

Personal secretary

the personal secretary feature enables individual users to have calls transferred to a specific extension when temporarily away from their desk – ubiquity.

Primary or secondary answering

AA can be programmed to answer either all incoming calls or calls that are not answered by the operator after a pre-set number of rings.


To accommodate organizations with operating hours that vary from day to day, up to three different schedules can be used.

Transfer to attendant

callers with touch-tone telephones can press ‘0’ to reach a live operator at any time, callers using rotary telephone can be transferred to the operator when no touchstones are detected.

Voice Detect

this feature allows outside callers using rotary telephones to access the voice mail system by speaking, instead of by pressing the touch tones. Callers make choices or respond to prompts by saying ‘yes’ or remaining silent for ‘no’.

Voice detect call holding

lets callers without touch tones hold by saying yes instead of pressing ‘1’.

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