Hello readers.  Hope you’re well.  Another quick post for you.

This week is Enterprise Connect in Orlando.  And with most big tech conferences, there are announcements about new and updated stuff, this first one is an update for Cloud PBX in Office 365. 

Auto Attendants and Call Queues are now generally available

First is something that has so far been a big differentiator between server and Cloud PBX and that is the lack of hunt group capability in Cloud PBX.  Microsoft has been cooking something for a while now using a newly developed set of APIs and SDKs.  It has been in preview for several months and they now feel it is ready for prime time.  Auto Attendants and Call Queues is the Cloud PBX “version” of the Response Group Service (RGS) in SfB Server.  These are really just a version 1 of the feature and so what you get is still fairly basic when compared to RGS.

What are Auto Attendants and Call Queues? 

Auto Attendant, or “press 1 for this, press 2 for that”, is used to automatically route calls to people in an organisation.  In Cloud PBX, you start with a Service Number.  A Service Number has more capacity for concurrent calls than a subscriber number (which you assign to an individual).  Service numbers can be acquired as new numbers from Microsoft or ported over from your DID list.  Service Numbers can be used for dial in conferencing, auto attendants or call queues.  New numbers from Microsoft can be toll or toll free.  Toll numbers can be regionalised, so you can reserve a number with the area code of your regional offices. 
Routing options for Auto Attendants:
Dial by name– This is also known as the directory search.  This allows callers to use either DTMF or Speech to search the directory and call someone in an organization.  While in preview, this feature was a little limited in that if you knew the name of anyone, you could place a call to them.  This included everyone in the directory, including executives.  Now, thankfully, there is a way to exclude certain people from the directory search.  You can choose the scope of the search, for instance, you can specify that the dial scope is limited to a specific distribution or security group.  You can also create exclusions by specifying a distribution or security group containing users you want to exclude from the search.  

Dial by name Text to speech supports 27 languages at the moment, including 6 types of English.  

Dial by name speech recognition supports 14 languages, including 5 types of English.

Operator Option– This is a way to route calls to an operator instead or choosing options by number.  For instance, you plat the caller a list of options, 1-5, for instance, and the last option is for the operator.  The operator option accepts the “0” key or the word “operator” in all of the languages available for speech recognition.
Menu Options– This is where you create your “press 1 for this, press 2 for that” list.  These can be assigned numbers 0-9 and accept text to speech and speech recognition.  Calls can be routed to the operator by pressing 0 (The 0 is assigned to the operator by default, but this can be reassigned or removed from the list if you choose), a person, a call queue or (something that wasn’t in preview) another auto attendant (also known as nested auto attendants).
Call Queues, is a way to route a service number or an auto attendant menu option to a group of agents.  Call queues can play callers a company greeting to callers and music while they hold for an agent.  Calls are routed in a first in first out (FIFO) basis to a list of up to 50 Enterprise Voice enabled users or a mail enabled distribution or security group.  You can set maximums for both queue size and wait time.  Max queue size is 50 by default, but can range from 0-200 callers.  Queue wait time can range from 0-45 minutes.  You can also decide what to do if either of these maximums are reached.  You can disconnect the call (imagine waiting 45 minutes and being disconnected) or forward the call.  Forwarding has a few options now (an improvement from preview).  You can forward to an EV enabled user, another Call Queue or an Auto Attendant.

List of supporting URLs

That’s all folks!

As always I hope this has been useful.  If this or any other post has been useful to you please take a moment to share.  Comments are welcome.