Configuring the Digital Receptions / IVR / Auto attendant
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Configuring the Digital Receptions / IVR / Auto attendant

Configuring Digital Receptionist / Auto Attendant

On this topic

Configuring Digital Receptionist / Auto Attendant


Recording a Menu Prompt

Creating a Digital Receptionist

Allowing Callers to Dial a Known Extension Directly

Call by Name

Self-Identification Message

How it Works

Exchange Server IVR Integration

See Also


The digital receptionist feature allows 3CX Phone System to answer phone calls automatically. When a call comes in to the phone system the caller is presented with a list of options. The caller can then choose the appropriate option using the numbers on their phone keypad. Using this feature you can implement a menu.

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.

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

Digital Receptionist.PNG

You can create multiple digital receptionists and link them to a particular line. To create a digital receptionist:

  1. In the 3CX Management Console menu, select “Digital Receptionist” > “Add Digital Receptionist”.
  2. Specify a name and virtual extension number for the digital receptionist.
  3. Now click on the “Record” button and enter your extension number.
  • You will be called so that you can record the prompt. The file will be copied into the %allusersprofile%\3CX\Data\Ivr\Prompts or C:\ProgramData\3CX\Data\Ivr\Prompts directory depending on your OS.
  • Alternatively click on the browse 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. 
  1. Specify the menu options. Select the appropriate key, and then select from the available actions. Then specify the extension number or virtual extension number (virtual extension number in the case of Ring Group, Call Queue or to another Digital receptionist)
  2. The last option, Timeout, allows you to specify how long the system should wait for an input. If it receives no input, it will automatically perform this action. This is handy for callers who did not understand the menu or who do not have a DTMF capable phone. When ready, click “OK” to save the digital receptionist.

Allowing Callers to Dial a Known 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

Using a Digital Receptionist, 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.

Self-Identification Message

To record your self-identification message:

  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”.

How it Works

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.

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.

More information on Configuring MS Exchange Server 2013 Unified Messaging with 3CX Phone System is available on this page.

See Also

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Ask a Question

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  1. Annette Roman

    Is there a way to setup the Call by Name feature to search both first and last names or, if not, by first name?

    August 4, 2015 at 11:37 pm Reply
    • @Annette no only last name. first 3 digits that represent first 3 letters of the last name

      August 5, 2015 at 9:07 am
  2. Eric Rice

    I have a digital receptionist that needs more key options so that I can add extensions. The system only has key options 0 – 9, I need at least 3 more. Please help

    August 6, 2015 at 4:16 pm Reply
    • Charalambos Eleftheriou

      @Eric, Thanks for your question. For access to extensions you can use the dial by name feature. Also you could use a VAD script if you have a particular app that the IVR is needed for. Thanks.

      August 7, 2015 at 9:30 am
  3. Ryan

    where do I set the open and close times for my PBX

    September 3, 2015 at 10:32 am Reply
    • Charalambos Eleftheriou

      @Ryan, Thanks for the question. To configure the global office hours, from your 3CX Management Console, expand settings > General and under the general tab you will see the section to configure office hours.

      September 3, 2015 at 11:49 am
  4. Michelle

    What list does the digital receptionist use to search for the last name? is there any setup required other than that list? Does that person need to have their voicemail set up for them to be found?

    September 29, 2015 at 11:06 pm Reply
    • Charalambos Eleftheriou

      Hi Michelle, thanks for the question. The digital receptionist uses the last name to search by name as configured in the extension settings. The extension must have a self identification recorded for this to work.

      September 29, 2015 at 11:24 pm
  5. For instance if I have some extensions 1xx and I set number 1 for my sales department, is there a conflict when a customer dials extension 1xx directly, that is, the phone call gets forwarded to sales as soon as the customer dials “1”?

    February 29, 2016 at 11:30 am Reply
    • Charalambos Eleftheriou

      @Jiahuai, thanks for question. There should be no conflicts here. The inter digit time out is around 1.5 seconds so if a user dials the next digit within 1.5 seconds they will not be transferred to your sales department.

      February 29, 2016 at 6:15 pm
  6. Is there anyway to disable “Allowing Callers to Dial a Known Extension Directly” through Digital Receptionist?

    March 5, 2016 at 1:14 am Reply
    • Charalambos Eleftheriou

      @Nuri S, Thanks for the question. This is possible but it needs to be done by our technical support team. Please contact your 3CX reseller/partner or distributor to open a ticket with our support team on your behalf, if you do not have a support contract to do this yourself, so that they can look into this for you.

      March 7, 2016 at 3:33 pm
  7. kevin

    hi,we recently installed 3cx and have been using the system, however we have a issue, when a caller calls in the digital receptionist activates and the options are given to press 1 for sales, 2 for accounting, when the caller press 1, they are then transfered to the sale department, however during the time before the sales department pick up the call, the caller gets a very loud beeping sound, is there anyway we can change this loud beeping sound to something else.

    April 4, 2016 at 2:29 am Reply
    • Charalambos Eleftheriou

      @Kevin, this should not be the case unless a change was made to the default prompts. Check that the prompts have not been changed and using the default ones. If you need further assistance please post this in our user forums or contact your 3CX Partner / distibuter to open a ticket on your behalf, if you do not have a support contract with us yourself, to help you to resolve this. Our forums can be found here :

      April 5, 2016 at 3:37 pm
  8. Sherrie Sharp

    How can I delete a recording from the prompt repository?

    April 8, 2016 at 9:10 pm Reply
    • Charalambos Eleftheriou

      @Sherrie, You can delete unwanted prompts within the IVR prompts directory from the 3CX phone system server C:\ProgramData\3CX\Instance1\Data\Ivr\Prompts.

      April 8, 2016 at 9:48 pm
  9. Thomas

    In the example you mention “For sales press 1. For support press 2 or wait on the line to be transferred to the operator”. We’re looking for a way to play an introduction prompt, but we don’t want to play the on hold prompt and instead of playing on hold music while connecting to a ring group we just want to keep the phone ringing. Is that possible or am I trying to accomplish something with the wrong features?

    April 11, 2016 at 4:52 pm Reply
    • Charalambos Eleftheriou

      @Thomas, You can achieve this simply replace the global music on hold with the USProgresstone.wav file from ‘Settings’ > ‘PBX’ > ‘Music On Hold. Please note though that this will also be the Music On hold played to callers when calls are place on hold.

      April 11, 2016 at 7:41 pm
  10. Juraj

    Hallo, is it possible to turn of the voice which saying “Hold on while i transfer your call” when i´m calling??

    April 21, 2016 at 8:58 pm Reply
    • Charalambos Eleftheriou

      @Juraj, To be able change prompts from the management console navigate to Settings > System prompts, click ‘Manage promptset’ then from the pop up window click ‘Copy Promptset’. Give the promptset a new name and choose to ‘Set as current promptset’. Then from the main screen hold the ‘CTRL’ key down on the keyboard and press f to bring up the search box, type ‘Please’ in the search box, locate the actual prompt (make sure to choose the correct one) that is played and press ‘Browse’, click ‘Add’ and ‘Choose File’, locate and replace this prompt with the one you need, choose the Empty.wav to have nothing played, press OK to apply the setting.

      April 22, 2016 at 4:59 pm
  11. Keith Sorbo

    How do I configure so that when a call comes in after hours or during holiday, the system
    1. Plays a message. I.e., do not give options as in a digital receptionist.
    2. Go straight to voice mail of a specified extension.

    I.e., can I configure the Digital receptionist to offer no options?

    June 18, 2016 at 12:23 am Reply
    • Charalambos Eleftheriou

      @Keith, Configure the DID being dialled to send the call to the voicemail required during out of hours. See this guide for the details: For holidays configure a prompt in the HOL IVR, which will then play after the prompt configured in the Holiday settings. Set a low time out so that the call is immediately sent to the voicemail chosen under the Timeout option.

      June 20, 2016 at 4:04 pm
  12. cedrick plante

    Hi can we modify the transition time between 2 digital receptionist. When i use the option If no input within seconds:0 the transition is almost instantly but when i choose an option the transition take 5 sec and it too long for us.

    August 11, 2016 at 5:54 pm Reply
  13. When dial by last name is used, the prompt plays does not inform the users to add “0” to the two letter names, how can that be added to the prompt played.

    August 17, 2016 at 9:19 pm Reply
    • Charalambos Eleftheriou

      @Saad, You can change the prompt:

      1. Navigate to Settings > System prompts and click ‘Manage Promptsets from the top menu and click ‘copy’
      2. Give the Promptset a new name and click OK.
      3. From the drop down in the manage promptset box choose the new promptset and click ‘Set As Current Promptset’
      4. Press and CTRL & F to bring up the search box and search for ‘username’ this will find a prompt ID called ‘Username’
      5. Select this line and Click ‘Browse’ from the top menu.
      6. Press ‘Add’ then ‘Choose file’. Choose the file to replace this one with that you have recorded to include the required content.
      Note: The files are stored by default in C:\ProgramData\3CX\Instance1\Data\Ivr\Prompts (folders in this directory relate to the prompt sets that have been downloaded for example, Standard English, Uk English ect…will have different folders related to them with the wav files inside.)
      7. Press OK and save then restart the services.


      August 18, 2016 at 5:04 pm
  14. Johnny Romeo

    Is there a way I can setup a number to press for mailing and fax number? For example, I would like the recording to say (For Our Mailing Address and Fax Number Please Press 4).

    October 25, 2016 at 2:39 am Reply