Hello Readers, I hope you are well. Happy New Year!
First post of the year and it’s a quick one. I will do a new post on Teams Auto Attendants and Call Queues because a lot has changed since I wrote my last post. This post is just to call out one new feature that I know will be popular with some.
Microsoft Teams Auto Attendants now support routing and redirection to voicemail.
And when I say voicemail, I mean specifically cloud voicemail for an Office 365 Group. For those that didn’t know, Office 365 Groups are voicemail enabled by default. Surprise! I didn’t know until I started looking at this. Or maybe I did, but forgot because it never occurred to me that there’d be a point to it.
How to do it
There are a few ways to route or redirect calls to voicemail but the most obvious workflow is for out of hours call handling.
You’ll need an Office 365 Group to use for a shared voicemail box. You can create a new group just for shared voicemail or pick an existing one. The important thing is that the users that you want to give access to these voicemails is a member or owner of the Office 365 Group you’re going to use.
Groups are listed in Outlook at the bottom of the folder list. If you have a lot of folders, you won’t see it. If you need easy access to it, add it to your favourites.
Next, either create a new auto attendant or open an existing one. Open the auto attendant and navigate to Call flow for after hours
Scroll down to set up after hours call flow and select redirect call.
Then choose voicemail in the drop down list and search for a group
After you’ve selected the group, enable transcription if you want to.
Then submit to save the changes. If you also have holidays set up and you also want your call flow during holidays to redirect to voicemail, you can do the same thing there.
In this example, I have created a holiday
Then I specify the call flow for this holiday and save it
Then submit once I’m happy. As you can see, my call action says redirect call.
If you want to wait until your auto attendant is out of hours to test redirection, that’s up to you. I decided to see what I could do during the day and it turns out you can also redirect calls to voicemail from a menu prompt.
And you can have voicemails transcribed.
Now, call your AA and press 3 when prompted to make a choice. In my testing, I got silence for about 2-3 seconds before I heard the voice telling me to leave a message. Then I left a message and hung up.
The voicemail was delivered to the Office 365 Group folder in my mailbox.
If you listen in Outlook for the web, you get an embedded player for listening to the message. You get caller ID if available and transcription which understood me perfectly.
I started thinking about other use cases for shared voicemail and one I thought of is for a busy call queue. In an ideal world, you’ll redirect to another queue to make sure calls are answered as quickly as possible. But I can think of one customer that likes for calls to go to voicemail if they don’t pick up during the day. Setting this up is a little clunky, but possible.
You’ll need a Group like before. A new auto attendant which is set to redirect all calls to voicemail and a resource account to use with the new auto attendant.
The reason you need a resource account is because call queues can only redirect calls to a person or a voice app.
And the only way to direct to a voice app is by using an associated resource account. Now just change what happens when calls time out and redirect to a voice app and search for the resource account which is associated with the new auto attendant that redirects to voicemail.
Clear? I said it was clunky, but at least it works. It would be better if Microsoft added support for redirecting to voicemail to call queues. Would be a lot more straightforward.
I think you’ll agree that this is a nice new feature. And possibly the best (only?) use of voicemail in a UC world where presence almost eliminates the need for personal voicemail. Obviously, this is subjective and debatable. Would love to hear your thoughts.