Is Your Auto Attendant Driving Away Potential Customers?


A recent research report by Daniel Harris, Market Research Associate, Software Advice , surveying small and mid-sized businesses shows that a poorly designed customer experience using an auto attendant can drive away potential customers. Specifically, the report provides information on how customers respond to poorly designed auto attendants and best practices for designing a great customer experience. The report’s findings and recommendations also apply to your overall customer experience strategy. It is a follow-up to Software Advice’s recent report on IVRs, which was summarized in a Cyara blog post.

Key Findings from the Report

The five points below summarize findings from this report:

  1. Auto attendant design is critical for customer retention: 42% of consumers surveyed say they’ll take their business elsewhere after a frustrating experience with an auto attendant.
  2. Auto attendants have a significant impact on consumers’ first impressions of a business, as 48% of respondents say the phone is their preferred method for contacting a business for the first time.
  3. The top pain points reported with auto attendants are long introductions (29%) and too many options (28%), suggesting that businesses should strive for brevity and simplicity for greetings and menus.
  4. To avoid these pain points, SMBs should try to keep introductions under three seconds long (as does 58% of the sample) and menus shorter than five options (as does 59%).
  5. Many SMBs are using auto attendants to replace receptionists during normal business hours to save money—a trend that is especially common in the property management, retail, banking and healthcare industries.

By the Numbers

Based on the numbers, it’s no surprise that good design drives good customer experiences. While this isn’t news, the numbers for both an auto attendant and an IVR are staggering:

  • 48% of customers prefer phone for their first contact with a company
  • 92% form their impression of a company based on their IVR experience
  • 63% of customers will go to another company because of a poor IVR experience
  • 42% of customers will go elsewhere due to a poor auto attendant experience

So, with new customers showing a strong preference for contacting you by phone, can you afford to potentially lose these buyers from a poor customer experience?

So What Do Your Customers Want?

The diagram below sums up what customers are looking for in an auto attendant—brevity, simplicity and logical order. Again, these are basics for designing a good customer experience, but many companies don’t get these basics right and miss out on potential revenue.



Best Practices to Design a Great Experience

Getting the design right can make or break a business, especially a small or midsized business. To ensure that you are delivering a great customer experience with your auto attendant, here are some best practices covered in this report:

  • Consider replacing your receptionist with an auto attendant. An auto attendant may better address the needs of your callers during business hours—especially in the property management, healthcare, banking and retail industries.
  • Keep overall menu length under one minute. Long menus are a top pain point listed by consumers.
  • Keep introductions under three seconds. Long introductions have more potential to annoy your customers than to spread brand awareness.
  • Aim for five menu options; no more than eight. Respondents in the report cited “too many options” and important options being listed last as top pain points.
  • Provide adequate context for callers to navigate the menu. One-fifth of the sample respondents identified a lack of sufficient context to select the proper option as a major challenge. Options should also be as descriptive as possible.
  • Assign menu options to departments rather than employees. If your organization is large enough to have departments, list options for these departments rather than individual employees.

How Cyara Can Help You Get It Right

Cyara can help you design and deliver a great customer experience by optimizing your network and your auto attendant solution. As the world’s fastest growing provider of an omnichannel customer experience testing, discovery and monitoring platform, millions of flawless customer interactions are delivered every day by organizations of all sizes utilizing Cyara. Named a 2015 Gartner Cool Vendor in CRM Customer Service and Support, Cyara was founded with a focus on making its customers successful.

Quit driving your customers away with poor customer experiences. Contact Cyara today!