Configuring Digital Receptionist / Auto Attendant

3CX Version 15

The digital receptionist feature allows 3CX to answer phone calls automatically and present callers with a menu of options. For example, “For sales press 1. For support press 2 or wait on the line to be transferred to the operator.” A digital receptionist is also known as an auto attendant or IVR.


You can configure many different digital receptionists each with their own extension number. Depending on your preferences you may configure these to answer calls based on which line the call comes in from, as well on whether the call is received inside or outside office hours. For example, you can have a different prompt for outside office hours that does not include the options to be transferred to groups/queues that do not have agents available to take calls.

Recording a Menu Prompt

Before you create your digital receptionist, you must first write down the menu options you wish to offer the caller and then record the announcement. A simple example would be, “Welcome to Company XYZ, For sales press 1. For support press 2 or stay on the line for an operator.”

Note: It is generally recommended to put the number the user should press after the option, i.e. “For sales, press 1,” rather than “press 1 for sales.” This is because the user will wait for the desired option and only then “register” what number to press.

Creating a Digital Receptionist


To create a digital receptionist:

  1. In the 3CX Management Console menu, select Digital Receptionist > Add.
  2. Specify a name for the digital receptionist.
  3. Now click on the Record button and enter your extension number and the “Audio File Name”. You will be called to record the prompt.
  4. Alternatively click on the Upload button and specify a file that you previously recorded. You must save the file in WAV format in PCM, 8 kHz, 16 bit, Mono format. (In Windows Sound Recorder you must use the “Save As” option to save this format) Do not use MP3 format. 
  5. Select a custom prompt language if required.
  6. Now specify the menu options. Select the appropriate key, and then select from the available actions. Specify the extension number or virtual extension number (virtual extension number in the case of Ring Group, Call Queue or to another Digital receptionist.)
  7. Optionally you can link a DID number to this digital receptionist.
  8. In “Destination for No or invalid input,” specify the timeout and where the call should go if no valid input is received.
  9. When ready, click OK to save the digital receptionist.

Allowing Callers to Dial an Extension Directly

Whilst a digital receptionist prompt is playing, a caller can enter the extension number directly to be connected to an extension immediately. This allows callers who know their party’s extension to avoid going through a receptionist. This option is enabled by default. If you wish to make use of this feature simply instruct your callers by explaining this in the voice prompt. For example, “Welcome to Company XYZ. If you know your party's extension number, you may enter it now, otherwise, for sales press 1. For support press 2.”

Call by Name

You can also direct callers to the call by name function. This allows them to find the person they wish to speak to by entering the first letters of the person’s last name on the phone dial pad. The call by name function requires:

  1. A self-identification message for the user. Users without a self-identification message are not accessible via the call-by-name feature.
  2.  Users can not have a last name with Unicode characters.
  3. The Call-by-name menu feature must be made available from a Digital Receptionist as one of the menu options.

The Call-by-name feature uses the last name of the user and compares it with the input (that has been entered on the phone keypad). The following rules are used:

  • The last name is converted to uppercase.
  • All symbols except [2-9] and [A-Z] are ignored.
  • The following translations for symbols are used:
  • 'ABC2' => '2'
  • 'DEF3’ => '3'
  • 'GHI4' => '4'
  • 'JKL5' => '5'
  • 'MNO6' => '6'
  • 'PQRS7' => '7'
  • 'TUV8' => '8'
  • 'WXYZ9' => '9'

The caller has to type a minimum of three digits (‘0’ – ‘9’) to call to a user. Digits ‘0’ and ‘1’ are ignored, but can be used to call users with short last names (for example, to access someone with the last name ‘Li’, you can type ‘540’).

After the user has entered three digits, IVR queries the phone system database for matching users. If there are no matching users, you hear “extension not found.” If there is only one matching user, the IVR plays “Please hold while I transfer your call” and redirects the call to the chosen extension. If there are more than one matching user, the IVR will wait for additional digits to be entered by the caller, for 2 seconds.

  • If IVR waits for additional digits (more than one matching user) and caller presses any digit, the IVR will add this digit to the current input and check currently matching users. If there are no matching users, the IVR will play “extension not found.”
  • If the user does not input any more digits (2 seconds elapsed or ‘#’ has been pressed) and more than one user is matched, then the IVR will play: “To call Van Damme press 0. To call Van Halen press 1. To exit press pound, (#).” In this example ‘Van Damme’ and ‘Van Halen’ are the self-identification prompts of the matching users.

Self-Identification Message

To record your self-identification message through your IP phone:

  1. Go to your voicemail menu (Default 999).
  2. Enter your voicemail PIN number.
  3. Go to the options menu (‘9’ key).
  4. Press ‘5’ key to record the self ID message.
  5. Record your name only, i.e. “Sarah Jones.”

Exchange Server IVR Integration

Note: Requires 3CX Pro Edition License.

Exchange Server 2013 SP1 includes a voicemail and an IVR feature that can be interesting to use for companies that deploy Microsoft Exchange Server. The Exchange IVR feature allows you to leverage speech recognition in your company’s IVR. The voicemail feature allows you to convert voicemails to text and forward them via email.