4 Ways You Can Mess Up Your Phone Tree


Even though the whole idea behind a phone tree, or auto attendant, for your phone system is to simplify things and minimize errors, you can still mess it up before you even start using it; that is—when you set it up. This post will point out all of the common mistakes that people make when they’re setting up the phone tree for their phone system.


1. Too Many Options

People just don’t want to stick it out if you have a ton of different menu selections, especially if their option ends up being the last one in the list. Try to keep your phone tree down to as few options to choose from as possible.

If you have a situation where you need one option for each of your employees, and there are a lot of them, then it’s best to create an actual extension for them. Then, you can just create one menu option for a company directory, so that when the caller presses the number of that option, only then will they hear the list of your employees’ extensions, or instructions for “dial-by-name”.


2. TMI Before You Tell Them the Options

The keystone of a phone tree is the main menu audio prompt, which gives the caller just what they need to know to press the correct number that will send them to the right place, and nothing more.

What you don’t want to do is get carried away with company information or promotional materials before you even start listing your menu options. It will suffice to say a quick hello, identify the company, and then start listing the options they have to choose from.


3. Being Vague in the List of Options

You also have to be really clear in your main menu audio prompt when you’re describing the options the caller has to choose from. Think about how crucial it is that they understand what this audio prompt is saying.

If you say, “Press 2 to be connected to a representative,” but they heard, “Press 2 to be c…#$%&!???…,” then they will never reach someone and possibly move on to your competitor. Make sure to take care when recording the audio, and review it multiple times to ensure that it’s clear and audible.


4. No Option to Speak to a Real Person

It’s all well and good to list every department you have in the phone tree menu prompt; however, if none of them lead to a live person, you’re going to end up with a lot of frustrated callers on your hands. At the very least, leave one option that you label as the “operator” so that if they don’t hear the option they feel they need, then they can still connect to someone for help.

You’re already going to serve your customers a great deal better just by making use of a phone tree in the first place, so there is immediately a huge benefit to it. The point of this article is simply to call attention to a few things that may confuse or deter callers.




Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.

Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.

Stephanie4 Ways You Can Mess Up Your Phone Tree