Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What is a Virtual Assistant?

An automated attendant or auto attendant is a way to utilize technology to assist callers.  Auto attendants typically provide greetings and allow callers to choose between several or more routing options. The virtual assistant is much more than a simple auto attendant.  It is a virtual feature package that can be programmed as needed.  For example, the virtual assistant can transfer calls to any phone extensions including those that are located in the office as well as out of the office and even mobile numbers and virtual phones.  The “Call me Now” feature allows calls to be initiated through a special hyperlink.  These and other features offer advanced solutions to creating an innovative office phone system.
The virtual assistant enterprise provides a management toolbar through Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox to let users manage in and outgoing messages, set up availability information and organizes call controls. The virtual assistant is literally a combination of IVR and auto attendant functions rolled into one. The IVR (integrated voiceresponse) is a more complex way to allow interaction while the auto attendant offers a way to route calls and replaces a live operator. The IVR generally performs additional functions and is used for such things as account inquiries and online banking.
An auto attendant offers a phone directory that allows callers to connect with people based on their name rather than extension number. You can often set up the system to use first name, last name, or both. Some of the most common routing options include:
  • Extension transfer
  • Voicemail transfer
  • Offer a message (such as directions or hours)
  • Transfer to another menu for more options
  • Repeat option choices
  • Reach a live operator
  • Send callers to a default mailbox
  • Provide an option for callers who do not make a choice
The virtual assistant is utilized with a hosted PBX to provide the solution that works best for your specific needs. The office phone system is becoming a more integrated solution that can help rather than hurt your business. You can use the virtual assistant in any number of ways to provide callers with the best possible options. Use hosted solutions with SIP trunking to give you the most comprehensive business solutions possible. Office managers should consider using a virtual assistant to improve business communications. The new virtual assistant offers a much more sophisticated approach to call processing than traditional auto attendants provide. A virtual assistant will provide you with a high degree of help while keeping callers happy, saving you money and improving customer relations. 

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