Getting out information on the events and ministries of the Church is one of the many challenges continually faced by Churches today. We create bulletins, newsletters, websites, and email lists for our members, trying to keep them “in the know”. We may be overlooking a simple way of communication that is often more non-threatening to members and non-members alike: a well-designed phone Auto Attendant.
Oftentimes a Church has an answering machine, but getting out anything other than a basic functional message is a challenge. One of the advantages of a VoIP-Hosted PBX system is an advanced Auto Attendant feature that allows a wide range and customization of messages for your intended audience. I realize that some people expect a live answer on the first ring, but in most Church environments this is not realistic. Perhaps your Church can be better served by allowing easy access to phone information, rather than tying up a person and resources for answering phones.
The first step in designing an effective Auto Attendant is to define the purposes of its use. Many people just think of an Auto Attendant as an extended answering machine message. In reality there are so many options and directions you can go. Perhaps your purpose is to give easy access to service schedules, or maybe a quicker way to activate the “Prayer Chain”. It could be to give detailed information about the ministries of the Church. Bottom line, once you have defined your purposes, the actual greeting can be much more effective.
The second step is to outline the greeting. At Wire Speed we have a standard outline (slightly modified below) that we offer to our customers. It is a good starting point, not meant to be the end-all solution. Mapping it out will help you get some of the kinks worked out on paper before you record.
Basic Auto Attendant
Hello, thank you for calling ___________________, (slogan) If you know your party’s extension you can dial it at any time. For the Operator or to leave a message in the general Voice Mail box, press 0 now. For Pastoral Staff, press 1 now. For ____ Ministry, press 2 now. For ____ Ministry, press 3 now. For directions to the Church or hours of service times, press 4 now. Our fax number is ________, our email address is ______________ Please be sure to visit us online at _____________________.
Once you have the main menu you can move on and make multiple menus in depth. Don’t overlook the possibility of using this medium to spread the Gospel as well! The Auto Attendant can be an effective tool for your Church.
Note: People like to get information with minimal steps. The average caller won’t navigate past three trees of depth in a menu. People have been trained already and will press zero repeatedly on their phone if they want to speak to someone in person. Don’t leave out your email and website addresses or forget your fax number even if it is not the primary purpose of your Auto Attendant.