During the past several months, we’ve seen a plethora of changes within Skype for Business Cloud PBX, meaning we are getting closer and closer to feature parity between on premise Skype for Business Server and Skype for Business Online. Among those changes was the addition of auto attendants. At Enterprise Connect in Orlando (March 2017), Microsoft announced that auto attendants have been moved out of Skype preview and released for general availability. Some of the key benefits of having an auto attendants within Skype for Business Online include:
- Sorting incoming calls which results in freeing up lines
- Providing an interactive virtual receptionist to route the calls for you
- Channeling calls to certain groups or individuals seamlessly
- Relieves operators from doing simple tasks
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Now that you know the benefits of what an auto attendant can provide, I will briefly explain what exactly an auto attendant is and how it can be used within your organization. To put it simply, an auto attendant is an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system for incoming calls to your organization. The auto attendant can:
- Play different greetings and menu prompts (during business hours vs outside business hours)
- Accept DTMF (keypad) as well as speech for navigation and commands
- Provide the caller with interactive menu options (“For Sales press 1, for Marketing press 2”)
- Search on a per-user basis (via FirstName,LastName or LastName,FistName)
- Route the call to an operator or voicemail as a backup
There a few things to consider before implementing an auto attendant within Skype for Business online.
- Requires Cloud PBX licensed users
- Can only route calls to users homed in Skype for Business online with Cloud PBX license (PSTN calling is optional)
- Operators must be Skype for Business Online users with Cloud PBX license (no on-prem Skype for Business users)
- Users with Cloud PBX with on premise PSTN Connectivity (via existing pool or CCE) is not supported
- Service numbers must be available (if it’s a toll-free service number this will also require PSTN consumption billing
Note: Additional scenarios for auto attendants will be released post general availability.
As you can see, auto attendants have come a long way since their first inception and will only continue to gain more traction in the coming months as more features become available. To stay up to date on all things Skype for Business Online, feel free to check out Skype preview. Also, stay tuned, as I will be covering the new addition of Call Queues in Skype for Business Online as well in a separate blog post.