Auto Attendants and Call Queues have come a long way since their infancy in Skype for Business Online. Although they aren’t perfect, Microsoft has made some great advancements in what they can do and how they function within Skype for Business Online and Microsoft Teams. In today’s article we’ll be discussing the in’s and out’s of both auto attendants and call queues in Microsoft Teams and how you can leverage them in your environment!
Call Queues and Auto Attendants, and Resource Accounts….Oh My! (Hope you got that reference :))
Let’s start things off with Call Queues. The name says it all! A call queue does exactly that, it puts calls in a queue while alerting the group of users/agents with one of the following alerting methods:
- Attendant – First call in the queue will ring all agents at the same time. The first agent to pick up the call gets the call
- Serial – Incoming calls will ring call agents one by one, starting from the beginning of the call agent list
- Round robin – Incoming calls are balanced so each agent will get the same number of calls from the call queue
Call Queues will give you the ability to include greetings that are used when someone calls in to a phone number for your organization, automatically put the calls on hold, or search for the next available call agent to handle the call while the people who call are listening to music on hold. With the latest update in the tenant, all Call Queues (CQ) (and Auto Attendants (AA)) will be created within the Teams admin center as opposed to the (legacy) Skype for Business admin center. Now let’s move on to Auto Attendants. Auto Attendants handle the routing of calls by providing a series of voice prompts or an audio file that callers will hear when they call into an organization. Simply put, think of an auto attendant as a robotic operator. This “robotic operator” will allow you to move through the menu system, place calls, or locate users by using a phone keypad (DTMF) or voice inputs using speech recognition. Last but not least, let’s cover the glue that holds your call queue or auto attendant together, resource accounts! If you are unfamiliar with resource accounts you can think of these accounts as disabled user objects within Active Directory. Assuming you’re running a strictly online deployment you’ll create the resource account in the following manner:
- To create a resource account for an Auto Attendant
- New-CsOnlineApplicationInstance -UserPrincipalName ResurceAccountAA@perficient.com -ApplicationId ce933385-9390–45d1-9512-c8d228074e07 -DisplayName “Resource Account_AA”
- To create a resource account for a Call Queue
- New-CsOnlineApplicationInstance -UserPrincipalName ResourceAccountCQ@perficient.com -ApplicationId 11cd3e2e-fccb-42ad-ad00-878b93575e07 -DisplayName “Resource Account_CQ”
Once the resource accounts have been created you’ll just need to login to your Office365 tenant and get them licensed. To do this, just find the newly created accounts and assign them a “Phone System – Virtual User” license. These licenses are provided by Microsoft for free! If you don’t see these within your tenant please check out the link here on how to obtain these license types within your tenant.
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Note: If you plan on assigning a number to the resource account, either a “Phone System – Virtual User” license or paid “Phone System” license will be required. However, if the resource account is just acting as a nested Auto Attendant or Call Queue, then no license will be required. Also, you no longer need to assign a Calling Plan.
Great, so we’ve created the resource account and licensed it, but how do we assign a phone number to either the resource account? Easy enough….just run the following commands in SFBO PowerShell:
- Set-CsOnlineVoiceApplicationInstance -Identity ResourceAccountAA@perficient.com -TelephoneNumber +12345678901
Note: You can assign multiple resource accounts to a single Auto Attendant or Call Queue. For example, if you had multiple numbers terminating to a single Auto Attendant (provided that AA fulfills the same needs for each number), then you won’t need to create and manage multiple identically configured Auto Attendants with different numbers. Also, if you ever need to make any changes to the existing resource accounts (i.e. changing the LineURI) it is often a better idea to just create a new resource account with a different UPN as changing preexisting resource accounts has often resulted in breaking the account.
With this information I have provided in this blog, you should now have a good starting point and understanding of how AA’s and CQ’s work together. In a subsequent blog I’ll provide a real life example of a CQ and AA as well as explain how the call flow will work in each instance. Until then, I hope you have found this high level overview of AA’s,CQ’s, and resource accounts helpful and I hope to see you in the next blog when we dig in a bit deeper!