Choosing the best automated phone system for small businesses

Automated & Auto-attendant Phone System for Small Businesses in 2024

Clémentine RobineLast updated on January 11, 2024
9 min

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Are you tired of being constantly interrupted by phone calls while trying to run your small business? Do you struggle to direct callers to the right department or individual? An automated phone system could be the solution to these problems. But with so many available options, choosing the right one for your business can be overwhelming. 

In this blog, we'll guide you through the process of setting up an auto-attendant system and introduce you to the best phone systems with auto-attendant feature on the market. You'll learn how to improve customer experience, save time, and increase efficiency with the help of automated phone systems. Let's get started!

What is an Auto Attendant Phone System?

An auto-attendant system is an automated phone system that answers incoming calls and directs callers to the appropriate department or individual within the organization. This system uses pre-recorded voice prompts to guide callers through a menu of available options, allowing them to select the appropriate department or person they wish to speak with. Automated phone and auto-attendant systems are often used interchangeably since both offer the same features.

Benefits of an Auto Attendant Phone System for a Small Business

In today's competitive business environment, it has become imperative for many businesses to find ways to improve their operations, increase efficiency, streamline their communications and enhance customer satisfaction. One way to achieve these goals is by setting up an auto attendant phone system. Here are some of the benefits of using automated customer service for your small businesses:

Increased Customer Satisfaction

Studies have shown that many customers prefer to deal with businesses with an efficient and professional automated phone system. Auto-attendant systems provide small and medium-scale businesses with a more organized and streamlined approach to handling customer calls, leading to higher customer satisfaction. Auto-attendant systems also reduce wait times and ensure customers are directed to the appropriate department or representative, increasing the likelihood of resolving their inquiries quickly and effectively.

Reduced Costs

For small businesses, reducing costs is essential to maintaining profitability. Auto-attendant systems can help by reducing the need for a dedicated receptionist or operator. With an auto-attendant system in place, calls can be routed automatically, reducing the workload on employees and allowing them to focus on other important tasks. With features like voicemail, businesses can ensure they never miss a call, even outside business hours.

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Improved Efficiency

Auto-attendant systems can help small businesses improve their operational efficiency. By automating call routing, companies can reduce the time and resources required to handle calls manually. This can free up employees to focus on other tasks, such as providing customer support or completing important projects. Auto-attendant systems can also provide valuable insights into call volume and call duration, allowing businesses to identify areas where they can improve their operations further.

Small businesses that use automated phone systems can increase customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and improve efficiency. Auto-attendant systems are valuable for small businesses looking to improve their operations and customer satisfaction.

Disadvantages of an Auto Attendant Phone System

While auto attendant phone systems have many benefits, there are also a few potential drawbacks to consider when setting it up for your business. Here are some of the most common disadvantages and how you can address them:

Lack of Personalization

One of the main disadvantages of using an auto-attendant system for your business is the inability to personalize the greeting or message. Customers who are greeted by an automated system instead of a human may feel like they are not getting personalized attention. This can lead to frustration and decreased customer satisfaction.

Frustration for Customers

Another potential drawback of having an auto-attendant system is the risk of frustrated customers who may not follow through with the process. If the system is not set up properly or is too complex, customers may struggle to navigate it and feel frustrated. This can result in a negative customer experience and could even lead to lost business.

Lack of Flexibility

Another disadvantage to anticipate is that auto-attendant systems may lack flexibility. If you run a business with unique and customized needs that are not easily accommodated by an automated system, you may discover that you have limited options to incorporate. This could result in a less-than-ideal customer experience.

There are a few steps you can take to address the drawbacks. First and foremost, ensure that your system is set up correctly and is easy for customers to navigate. This may require some testing and tweaking to get it just right. 

Another way to address the potential drawbacks of an auto-attendant system is to ensure you provide opportunities for personalization where possible. For instance, you could include an option for your customers to speak with a live representative if they need additional assistance. While there are some potential drawbacks to using an auto-attendant system, you can minimize these or avoid them altogether with proper planning and execution.

Auto Attendant or IVR?

Auto-attendant and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems are valuable tools that enhance a business's phone system. However, these two have different features and are suited to different purposes. Auto-attendant systems are simple menu-based systems that allow callers to direct themselves to the appropriate department or individual. IVR systems, on the other hand, are more complex and can handle more complicated interactions, such as processing payments, making reservations, and more.

FeatureAuto AttendantIVR (Interactive Voice Response)
Answers incoming calls and directs callers to the right person
Interacts with callers provides information, and gathers data
Call routing
Offers simple call routing to specific extensions or departments
Provides sophisticated call routing based on caller input and data
Voice recognition
Limited or no voice recognition capabilities
Advanced voice recognition capabilities for natural language input
Menu Options
Pre-recorded menu options
Dynamic menu options based on caller input and data
Call handling
Basic call handlings, such as call transfer and hold
Advanced call handlings, such as call routing and data collection
Basic integration with phone systems
Advanced integration with CRM, databases, and other systems

When deciding which system is right for your business, it is essential to consider your needs carefully. An auto-attendant system may be the best choice if you only need a simple system to direct callers to the right department or individual. However, an IVR VoIP system may be better if you require a more complex system to handle payments or reservations. Therefore, deciding whether to go for auto-attendant or IVR systems depends on your business's specific needs. 

How to Set Up an Auto Attendant for Small Businesses?

Setting up an auto attendant for your small business is easier than you might think. With the right tools and proper guidance, you can create a professional phone system to impress your customers and help streamline your communication.

Here is a five-step process to set up an auto attendant for your small businesses:

Step 1: Choose an Auto Attendant Provider

The first step is to choose an auto-attendant provider that suits your business needs. Several options are on the market, including Aircall, RingCentral, Grasshopper, Dialpad, and Cloudtalk. Consider each provider's features, pricing, and ease of use before making a decision.

Step 2: Define Your Call Flow

Next to that, you need to define your call flow. This involves deciding the options you want to provide the callers, such as press 1 for sales, press 2 for support, or press 3 for billing. You should also determine what happens if a caller doesn't select an option.

Step 3: Record Your Greetings

Your auto-attendant greeting is the first thing callers will hear when they contact your business. Recording a professional and informative greeting that explains your options and sets the right tone for your business communications is important.

Step 4: Set Up Your Extensions

Once you've defined your call flow and recorded your greetings, you will need to set up the extensions. Assign each option to the appropriate department or individual handling the queries. For example, press 1 for sales might be assigned to your sales team, while press 2 for support might be assigned to your support team.

Step 5: Test Your System

Before you launch your auto-attendant system, it's essential to test it thoroughly. Call your business from different numbers and try other options to ensure everything works perfectly. Ensure your team is familiar with the system and knows how to handle calls from the auto-attendant system.

What are the Best Auto Attendant Telephone Systems for Small Businesses?

When choosing the best auto attendant telephone system for your small business, several options are available in the market. The top five choices include Aircall, RingCentral, Grasshopper, Dialpad, and Cloudtalk. Let's take a closer look at what each of these options has to offer.


Aircall is an advanced phone system designed to help small businesses manage their calls more efficiently. With features like auto-attendant, call forwarding, call queuing, and call recording, Aircall is a complete phone system that can handle all your communication needs. Its intuitive dashboard allows you to manage your team and track your performance in real time, while its seamless integrations with tools like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zendesk help you streamline your workflow.


RingCentral is a cloud-based communication platform offering various features, including auto-attendant, call forwarding, and call queuing. It also has a mobile app that allows you to make and receive calls on the go. With RingCentral, you can set up virtual meetings, send messages, and share files with your team. However, its pricing can be a bit higher compared to some of the other options on this list.


Grasshopper is a virtual phone system allowing you to make and receive calls from your devices. Its auto-attendant feature can direct callers to the appropriate department or individual, and its call-forwarding feature can route calls to your mobile phone or other devices. Grasshopper also offers a range of other features, including voicemail transcription, business texting, and custom greetings.


Dialpad is a cloud-based communication platform that offers features like auto-attendant, call recording, and call routing. Its AI-powered Voice Intelligence (Vi) technology allows you to transcribe calls, take notes, and get real-time insights into your conversations. Dialpad also integrates with tools like Salesforce, Zendesk, and G Suite, making it easy to streamline your workflow.


Cloudtalk is a cloud-based phone system that offers a range of features, including auto-attendant, call forwarding, and call queuing. It also has a mobile app that allows you to make and receive calls on the go. With Cloudtalk, you can set up virtual meetings, send messages, and share files with your team. Its pricing is also competitive compared to other options on this list.

Out of all these options, Aircall stands out as a top choice for small businesses. Its user-friendly interface, advanced features, and seamless integrations offer everything you need to streamline communication and boost productivity. Don't just take our word for it - try Aircall for yourself and see the difference it can make in your business. Sign up for a free trial today!

Auto attendant phone systems have become increasingly popular for small businesses due to their many benefits, including increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved customer satisfaction. While there may be some potential drawbacks, such as reduced personalization, these can be mitigated with the right strategies in place. 

If you're interested in experiencing the benefits of an auto-attendant phone system for your small business, we highly recommend signing up for Aircall. Aircall provides a user-friendly interface, robust features, and exceptional customer support. Don't miss this opportunity to enhance your business communication and take your customer service to the next level.

Sign up for Aircall now to see the difference it can make in your business.

Published on July 18, 2023.

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