We often refer to Auto Attendant (AA) and Phone Tree interchangeably. While technically different, it's okay to refer to them similarly. In this guide, we aim to outline the various features and functions of a Phone Tree to give you a better idea of how it all works and what the possibilities are for your organization.
Auto Attendants, Call Queues, and Call Agent Groups
Auto Attendant (AA)
There's lots of customization available - just let us know what kind of workflow you'd like callers to follow and we'll see what we can do.
How do people reach the AA?
People can reach an AA several different ways, depending on your desired setup. They could dial one or more phone numbers associated with the AA. They might reach it from a keypress on another AA. Or they might be redirected to it from a Call Queue or another AA.
What happens once a caller reaches an AA?
Once the AA is reached, a caller typically hear an audio greeting detailing the available keypresses for them (an audio greeting is an optional part of AA setup). Audio greetings can either be text-to-speech (the automated voice isn't half bad and it can read in a few different languages, though it cannot read a combination of languages) or we can upload an audio file, depending on your preference (text-to-speech is the easiest to maintain).
AAs are the only part of a Phone Tree that feature alternative workflows based on date/time. If you'd like callers to be redirected during or after business hours to a specific Call Queue, voicemail box, another AA, or a different greeting, we can make that happen.
AAs are the only part of a Phone Tree that feature keypresses. Keypresses can go to a staff member, a Call Queue, another AA, a voicemail box, or an external number.
Call Queue and Call Agent Group
- Call Queues (CQ, sometimes just Q)
- Call Agent Groups (formerly referred to as Response Groups, or RG)
There's lots of customization available - just let us know what kind of workflow you'd like callers to experience and we'll see what we can do.
How do people reach the CQ?
Just like an AA, people can reach a CQ several different ways, depending on your desired setup. They could dial one or more phone numbers associated with the CQ. They might reach it from an AA keypress. Or they might be redirected to it from another Call Queue.
What happens once a caller reaches a CQ?
And just exactly like an AA, a CQ can play an audio greeting.
CQs are the only part of a Phone Tree that feature call agent groups. Typically when someone reaches a CQ, the CQ acts as an operator:
- The CQ transfers the caller to the call agent group and they typically all see the call notification at the same time (whoever picks up first gets the call).
- If no one picks up the call after a certain amount of time, or if there are too many callers, the CQ then redirects the caller to a timeout target.
- The timeout target can be another CQ, an AA, a staff member, or a voicemail box.
- We can adjust the amount of time call agents have to answer a call, as well as the maximum number of callers waiting in the queue.
Shared Voicemail Box
It's worth mentioning shared voice mailboxes here since they're most commonly reached via an AA or CQ.
For any organization that's on the cloud, we set these up as Office 365 Groups. These work a little differently than the old shared mailboxes you might be used to. We've outlined how to access and use them here >>
Just like an AA or CQ, you can send us text for a text-to-speech greeting, or you can send us an audio file.
As for permissions, we can grant permission to the shared mailbox to whoever you prefer. You may want all call agents to have access to the voicemails, or you may want to have additional staff (who don't receive calls) to check the voicemails. Just let us know what you're looking for and we'll see what we can do for you. 😎👉👉
If it's helpful, you can think of a Phone Tree literally like a tree. Here's an example:
- The trunk: The main 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."
- Keypress 2 goes to another AA.
- 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."
- Keypress 2 goes to a Call Queue associated with the Pitbull call agent group.
- The twigs and leaves: Call Agent Group (The group of people that actually pick up the calls)
- The caller presses 2 for pitbulls, so now they are directed to a Pitbull call agent group that rings several staff members.
- If no one picks up, the caller is 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 call agent group (i.e. they can check voicemails, but they don't receive calls when people want to inquire about pitbulls).