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Automated Phone Directory

Northwestern University Automated Phone Directory utilizes an automated speech attendant with speech recognition capabilities. This automated service complements University Call Center Representatives in call routing during non-working hours or when they are assisting other callers.

The Automated Phone Directory provides twenty-four hour directory assistance and replaces the need for a printed directory.

An auto attendant is the part of an interactive voice response (IVR) system that routes incoming telephone calls based on specific selections or information provided by the caller. When speech recognition software is installed, the auto speech attendant has the ability to recognize the human voice and route calls based on the caller speaking the necessary information.

Hours of Operation

University Call Center Representatives are available during the following business hours:

The automated speech attendant will route calls during non-business hours or when University Call Center Representatives are occupied with other callers.

Automated Phone Directory Numbers

Currently, the Automated Phone Directory is responsible for routing calls coming into the following University telephone numbers:

Directory On Campus Off Campus
Main Chicago Campus 3-8649 312-503-8649
Main Evanston Campus 1-3741 847-491-3741
Student Listings 1-5500 847-491-5500
University Operator "0" 3-1000 312-503-1000

How Does It Work?

The automated speech attendant is a computer software that accesses information from the Northwestern University (NU) Online Directory. As long as the appropriate contact information is listed in the NU Online Directory, the automated speech attendant can effectively route calls to their destination. Prefixes, such as Doctor, first and last names, nicknames, University departments, and schools are all recognized by the automated speech attendant.

The Automated Phone Directory is a dynamic system and it may be possible that the system could mispronounce a name, not recognize a name or department, or incorrectly route a call to the wrong number. In these rare instances, users can contact 847-491-HELP (4357) during Northwestern IT Support Center business hours to report the problem. Calls will be routed based on the primary office phone number listed in the individual's online directory entry.

Members of the University Community can review their contact information for accuracy in the NU Online Directory.

Best Practices

  1. Speak naturally and avoid using extra words such as "please" "could I speak to", etc.
  2. Remember to speak at your normal volume and at a normal pace. The technology is less effective when speaking at a high level or speaking abnormally slow.
  3. Try to avoid using your speakerphone due to background noise. Cell phones are supported but have the same challenges.
  4. The automated speech attendant emulates the conversation you might have with an operator, so if the system does not understand what you've asked on the first try, it will ask additional questions, for example, "repeat the last name".
  5. If the automated speech attendant cannot understand your request, you may be asked to spell. Spell naturally and do not qualify the letters such as "C" as in cat. Don't worry about spelling incorrectly. You will be given choices based on the information you provide.

Last Updated: 20 March 2017

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