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How to Set Up a Friendly Automated Receptionist: Useful Tips

February 16, 2022

In many organizations, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, also known as an automated receptionist, is used to greet callers and send them to the right department or extension. Having the right message sets the tone for the caller's experience. Read on for some tips on how to implement the right messages that will allow you to optimize the efficiency of your automated receptionist.

Greeting Message

In Quebec, the Charter of the French Language requires the greeting message of a business phone system to be in French. It may also include additional languages if deemed necessary. It's standard practice for businesses, and mandatory in public organizations, to begin a greeting message in French since French is the official language in the province, and should take precedence over any other language.

For centralized telephone services, particularly for services provided to customers, the message begins in French. The message switches to English or in another language and provides brief instructions on how to obtain the information service in that language before switching back to French. For example:

Welcome to "Name of your company". If you know the extension of the person you wish to reach, please enter it now. If you need assistance of our operator, dial 0. For information service in English, press 9. Our regular office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

A greeting message should be concise: the shorter the greeting, the shorter the caller will need to wait. An effective greeting confirms that the caller is in the right place and informs the caller of the length of the person's absence. If applicable, the greeting message can also suggest an alternative solution, like contacting a colleague or the reception desk, and invites the caller to leave a message. The staff member responsible must respect his or her commitment to return the call.

The greeting message should be recorded in a quiet place. A warm and welcoming tone with scripted text demonstrates the professionalism of the company or organization.

When using a telephone, an IVR system allows for a two-way communication between a user and a local server. The server, being equipped with a voice recognition system, enables the user to communicate verbally or by using the keys on the telephone keypad.

Telephone Interactive Menu

When setting up an interactive telephone greeting menu for your company, it's best practice to write the message with the different line options. We recommend creating a few message options that you can adapt per your company requirements.

Here are some key factors to keep in mind before creating your greeting message with menu options: 

  • Unilingual or bilingual messaging
  • Name of your company
  • Access to the company directory
  • List of options for the different departments
  • List of options for different employees
  • Opening Hours
  • When the office is opened or closed
  • Website address
  • Emergency extension
    • Extension to contact
  • If a user dials an extension, how many times should it ring before going to voicemail
    • Voicemail and/or return number

Once the menu is written and validated internally, your provider can program the menu for you. You will then receive instructions on how to record the different messages as outlined below:

  • Recording the guide messages (for the menu)
  • What needs to be recorded
    • Last name + first name for the different extensions OR last name + first name + extension
    • Unavailable messages for your company's voicemails
    • Provide your employees with instructions and message examples for when they are unavailable 

Examples of Voicemail Messages

Message for a user's voicemail

Hello, Dominique Bélanger here. I am unable to answer your call at the moment, but please leave me a message after the tone and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you and have a nice day.

 

Temporary messages from a user's voicemail 

  1. Patricia Saint-Germain here. Today, Tuesday, May 17, I will be in meetings all morning and at my office for the rest of the day. Leave me your name, phone number and a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible. To reach the reception desk or in case of an emergency, dial 0. Thank you.
    Note: don't use instructions like "If you need assistance, dial 0", as "0" is not strictly for assistance.
  2. This is Jean-Claude Paradis. I will be out of town until Monday, April 25th inclusive. Please leave me a message as I will be taking them remotely. You can also reach the reception by dialing 0. Thank you.
  3. Marie Blanchard here. I am either already on the phone or away from my desk. Leave me your name and phone number and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. To reach the reception desk or in case of emergency, dial 0. Thank you.
  4. You have reached the voicemail of Gilles Charland. I am currently in a meeting. However, you will be able to reach me between 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. You can also leave me a message after the tone. I will call you back as soon as possible. Have a nice day.
  5. You've reached the Purchasing Department. As we are unable to answer your call at the moment, please leave us a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you!

 

Company voicemail message

Welcome to "Name of your company" and thank you for calling. We're sorry we are unable to answer your call at this time, but please leave us a message and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you!

 

Example of a Company's IVR System

During business hours

Welcome to " Name of your company ". If you know the extension number of the person you wish to reach, please dial it now. To consult our telephone directory, dial 1. To speak to our receptionist, dial 0 or stay on the line.

If 1 is dialed :

  • Dial the extension now.

If 0 is dialed or user waits for reception (after a delay of about 5 rings):

  • "We apologize for the delay. Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line, an agent will be with you shortly. Thank you."
  • Play music or company advertisement;
  • After a longer delay, you can send the user directly to the reception's voicemail or keep the user on hold: "Thank you for your call. We're sorry we can't answer your call right now, but leave us a message and we'll call you back as soon as possible. Thank you and have a nice day."

If 2 is dialed for the directory:

  • Please dial the first three letters of the last name of the person you wish to reach. For the letter Q, dial 7.
  • The letters entered do not match any of the names in the directory (3 attempts after calling reception).

    Or

  • The system will speak the names that correspond to the given letters.

Outside business hours

Welcome to "Name of your company". Our offices are currently closed. Our business hours are Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. If you know the extension number of the person you wish to reach, please dial 1. For a list of telephone extensions, dial 2 or leave a message after the tone.

 

Evening inbox message

Thank you for your call. Leave us your name, phone number and a brief message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you!

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