How to set up your school telecoms auto-attendant

What kind of first impression does your auto-attendant give of your school? Your auto-attendant could be the first thing parents, carers, Ofsted inspectors and prospective members of staff hear when they contact your school. So you’ll want to make it sound as welcoming as possible, whilst keeping it brief.

Some schools invite pupils to record their auto-attendant message, which is a nice touch. However, should you choose to do this do make sure that the message is audible and clear.

Could your school’s auto-attendant do with an update? Try our top tips for writing an engaging auto-attendant message:

  • Start with a welcome/thank you message. Keep it brief - simply “welcome to... “ or “thank you for calling…” is fine
  • Give the most important information first
  • If callers can dial by extension, let them know straight away
  • If your options have recently changed, let callers know at the start
  • Try to limit your menu to no more than five options
  • Avoid using the word ‘please’ before each menu option as it quickly sounds repetitive. Simply say ‘press’ instead.
  • Always reserve the 0 key for being transferred to the operator or reception
  • Ask someone to read your script through
  • Time how long the message is - try to keep it under 30 seconds if you can
  • Have a separate out-of-hours message for when the school is closed, giving the usual opening times
  • Make sure you point callers to where they can access school information when reception is closed (website, Facebook Group or school app)

Here is an example script, which takes approx. 20 seconds.

Thank you for calling/Welcome to [NAME OF SCHOOL].

If you know the extension number of the person you wish to speak to, please dial it now.

To report a child absent press one.

For staff absence press two.

For finance press three.

For all other enquiries please press zero.

Proof-listening to your school's auto-attendant

Finally, listen back to your message once it’s recorded and check it is:

  • Welcoming
  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Informative