The terms Auto Attendant (AA) or Phone Tree can be confusing because there are many moving parts involved with making them work correctly. While "AA" is often used as a synonym for "Phone Tree," technically an AA is part of a Phone Tree (it is the greeting you hear when you call a phone number set up as a Phone Tree).
Put metaphorically, a phone tree consists of:
- The trunk: The main Auto Attendant (AA) Greeting
- The caller dials the main office number and hears this greeting: "Thank you for calling this organization. Press 1 for office hours, Press 2 for puppies."
- The branches: Sub-AA Greetings
- The caller presses 2 for puppies, so now the caller hears another greeting: "Press 1 for corgies, Press 2 for pitbulls, Press 3 for shiba inus."
- The twigs and leaves: Response Groups (The group of people that actually pick up the calls)
- The caller then presses 2 again, so now they are directed to a Pitbull Response Group (RG) that rings several staff members.
- If no one picks up, the caller is then typically redirected to a shared voicemail box. Usually the members of the Response Group will have access to this voicemail box via Outlook, but sometimes other people are given permissions to access the voicemail box without being part of the Response Group (i.e. they can check voicemails, but they don't receive calls when people want to inquire about pitbulls).