Is A Multi Level Auto Attendant Worth Upgrading For?


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If you’ve ever called a company and been greeted by a friendly automated voice offering you a menu of options, you’ve encountered an auto attendant. Without a live agent, this automated system directs you to the right department or person by having you select options from a menu.

Multi-level auto attendants enhance the caller experience by offering a sophisticated and in-depth menu system, fully customized to a customer’s needs. Unlike standard attendants with a single layer of options, multi-level systems provide a hierarchy of choices, allowing callers to drill down to the exact service or department they need.

This results in more precise call routing, decreasing wait times, reducing caller frustration, and improving overall efficiency.

While the benefits of multi-level auto attendants are clear, the question remains: is it worth upgrading to this advanced system? For some companies, overhauling their current auto attendant may not seem necessary, especially at a higher cost.

To make the best decision for your team, we’ll explore the features and advantages of multi-level auto attendants and important considerations to keep in mind if you decide to take the plunge.

Why Companies Outgrow Basic Auto Attendants

Basic auto attendants are the unsung heroes of modern business communication and have been standard practice since the 1980s. They’re often customers’ first point of contact, and their main job is to efficiently route calls to the appropriate line. They greet callers with a pre-recorded message and a simple menu of options, like “Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 for Customer Service,” ensuring every call is directed where it needs to go.

This automation is invaluable for both remote and in-house customer service teams. It streamlines call handling, reduces the need for a live receptionist, and ensures a professional first impression to callers.

However, as businesses shift and scale in size, the simplicity of basic auto attendants can limit organizations.

They typically offer limited options and lack the flexibility to adapt to more complex organizational structures or varied customer needs. For example, a basic auto attendant cannot direct a call to multiple departments or individuals based on caller input beyond the first layer of information.

A basic auto attendant would not be sufficient if a company needed to accommodate multiple languages or offer custom options for different product lines.

For growing companies, this can lead to several specific issues:

  1. Inadequate call routing: With only a basic menu, calls may not be directed to the right department, leading to customer frustration and longer call times.
  2. Limited personalization: Basic systems don’t offer personalized experiences based on caller history or specific needs, missing an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction.
  3. Scalability issues: As a company expands, it might outgrow the capabilities of a basic auto attendant, leading to poor program functionality.
  4. Increased hold times: With all calls funneled through a single, simplistic menu, callers might experience longer hold times, which means more dropped calls.

Thinking it might be time to ditch the basic auto attendant? Here are some telltale signs that your company would benefit from a multi-level auto attendant upgrade:

  • Increased call volume: If your contact center is receiving more calls than it can efficiently handle, it’s time to consider a multi-level system. These systems allow for greater call routing options and ensure every caller is directed to the right agent.
  • Frequent caller complaints: If customers often express frustration about getting lost in your call menu or not reaching the right department, it’s a clear indicator.
  • High call abandonment rates: An increase in callers hanging up before reaching their desired destination suggests your current system may be too cumbersome.
  • Employee feedback: If your staff report difficulties managing incoming calls or an increase in misrouted calls, your current system might fall short.

Upgrading to a multi-level auto attendant can address these challenges by offering deeper menu structures, better customization, and more advanced routing options, ensuring your business communication keeps pace with your growth.

Advantages of a Multi-Level Auto Attendant

A multi-level auto attendant, paired with one of the best VoIP phone services, refines the traditional system with an advanced menu. It works much like an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system for seamless and intelligent navigation.

A multi-level auto attendant offers the following advantages over a basic system:

  • Efficient navigation: Callers can quickly navigate through menus carefully designed with IVR scripts and get directed to the appropriate department or agent in record times.
  • Tailored call flows: Multi-level solutions allow for deep customization, enabling businesses to craft call flows that reflect their structure and customer interaction needs, adding a personal touch.
  • Streamlined operations: Multi-level auto attendants automate call routing, cutting down on transfers and wait times, which boosts contact center efficiency and speeds up issue resolution.
  • Professional image: Incorporating a multi-level system into your organization enhances your business’s image and makes customers feel comfortable interacting with your team.
  • Scalable growth: With the scalable nature of VoIP services, integrating multi-level auto attendant features allows for easy expansion of services or locations, keeping pace with business growth.

The most salient benefit of transitioning to a multi-level auto attendant system is enhancing the overall customer experience. This technology makes the first point of contact with your company more efficient, which keeps callers and agents alike happy.

Considerations Before Upgrading An Auto Attendant

While the benefits of upgrading to a multi-level auto attendant are clear, there are several factors to consider before making the switch. Firstly, you’ll want to decide what type of system you need.

Cloud phone providers

Many businesses today leverage cloud-based VoIP phone services for their telecommunication needs. They work by digitizing and routing your phone calls online rather than using a dedicated phone line.

Many VoIP providers, including RingCentral and Nextiva, often offer multi-level auto attendant features in their service packages.

Upgrading through your existing cloud phone provider is usually the most straightforward path. It’s not only convenient, but it’s also cost-effective to work with the same company.

With cloud services, adding a multi-level auto attendant feature can often be done with a simple plan upgrade or new feature activation, avoiding the need for new hardware or extensive system reconfigurations.

Cloud-based options are ideal for small to medium businesses prioritizing ease of use and scalability without significant infrastructure changes.

On-premise PBX systems

Integrating a multi-level auto attendant can be a bit more complex for businesses operating with an on-premise PBX (Private Branch Exchange).

These systems require hardware and software that reside within your business premises, and upgrading them can involve additional hardware, software updates, or even a complete system overhaul.

It’s a more traditional route that offers control and customization but comes with challenges and costs. Prices can range from a few thousand dollars for small businesses to tens of thousands or more for larger enterprises, depending on the complexity and scale of the system.

This option is best for larger organizations with an existing on-premise PBX infrastructure and the resources to manage it.

Considerations for upgrading

Here are some things to keep in mind when upgrading to a multi-level auto attendant:

  1. Cost: Adding a multi-level auto attendant feature might be included in a higher-tier plan or available as an add-on service for cloud-based systems. This often results in a marginal increase in your monthly bill. On-premise PBX upgrades can vary widely in cost, depending on the complexity of the new setup and the existing infrastructure. It’s not uncommon for on-premise upgrades to involve significant investment in new hardware or software.
  2. Technical requirements: Upgrading to a multi-level auto attendant on a cloud platform is typically user-friendly, with many providers offering support and guidance throughout the process. For on-premise systems, consider the technical expertise required for installation and maintenance. It might necessitate professional installation and training for your staff.
  3. Scalability and flexibility: Cloud solutions can scale and adapt to your business needs with minimal fuss. On-premise systems, while highly customizable, may require additional resources and time to scale or update.
  4. Long-term value: Evaluate the upgrade by comparing immediate costs to the potential for improved customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and the professional image it projects.
  5. Analytics and reporting: Consider the level of analytics and reporting provided by your current system versus what a multi-level auto attendant can offer. Advanced systems often include real-time data, efficiency metrics, and more.

Multi Level Auto Attendant Pricing

With cost being one of the biggest considerations for businesses, here’s a breakdown of the pricing models for multi-level auto attendants.

VoIP Phone Services with Multi-Level Auto Attendant

For VoIP phone services, the cost of adding a multi-level auto attendant feature often falls within the service provider’s subscription plans. On average, businesses can expect to:

  • Pay an additional $10 to $30 monthly on top of their regular VoIP service fees for basic multi-level auto attendant capabilities.
  • Decide if they want to upgrade to premium plans that include advanced auto attendant features, which may range from $30 to $50+ per user per month, depending on the provider and specific features required.

On-Premise Multi-Level Auto Attendant Solutions

Due to hardware and installation requirements, on-premise solutions tend to be more capital-intensive upfront. For a mid-sized business, an on-premise PBX system with multi-level auto attendant functionality can range from $5,000 to $20,000 for the initial setup, including hardware, software, and installation.

Ongoing maintenance and potential upgrades can add additional costs, which vary widely based on the system’s complexity and contractual terms with service providers.

Cost Comparison and Value Proposition

Cloud-based multi-level auto attendants offer a lower entry point with their monthly subscriptions, making them ideal for small to medium-sized businesses or those looking for flexibility.

On-premise systems provide more control and customization, which may suit larger organizations with specific needs and dedicated IT teams.

When weighing the costs of a multi-level auto attendant, you should consider not only the initial investment or monthly fees but also the long-term efficiencies, cost savings, and customer satisfaction benefits. These factors combined can provide a compelling return on investment, making the upgrade a worthwhile consideration for businesses aiming to enhance their communication systems.

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