Managing Unified Messaging Auto Attendant (Part 3)

by [Published on 19 Aug. 2008 / Last Updated on 19 Aug. 2008]

We will go through the scenario of creating an Auto Attendant infrastructure.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

In order to demonstrate the Auto Attendant feature we are going to use a common company scenario where they are going to use UM Auto Attendant instead of a secretary to receive external calls and redirect to the correct department according to the rules that will be created in this article. Let’s start simple, our Auto Attendant will ask the customer if he wants Support, Sales or Business hours and locations.

From the Exchange point of view the configuration that we will have can be shown in Figure 01, where with a single Auto Attendant we will see how to configure it to meet our company scenario requirements.


Figure 01

The example above is quite simple. We can add Auto Attendants to that infrastructure to provide more flexibility for the callers. For example: by default a new Auto Attendant allows you to speak the name of any user that has a dial plan and the caller will be redirected to the user extension. Let’s say that you have a huge Sales department, you can create a specific Auto Attendant for that department, and the Auto Attendant will be responsible only for hearing the name of the salesperson and then redirecting the caller to the appropriate salesperson. In this particular example we can create an Address List containing only the Sales personnel.

Deploying the proposed scenario

So far in the series we have seen how to record and create the Auto Attendant, we reviewed the configuration involved to set up a UM Auto Attendant, and now in this article we are going to put it all together in practice.

First of all, record all greetings, main menu prompts and holiday voice prompts using the Audio format accepted by Exchange Server 2007 and put all together in a local UM Server folder.

Now let’s create our proposed scenario following these steps:

  1. Create the Auto Attendant called MainAA and define it as speech enabled and assign an extension number.
  2. In the Greetings tab. Configure the Greetings using the recorded custom voice prompts, in Figure 02 we can see that our Auto Attendant is totally personalized with our greetings, informational announcement and Main menu Prompt.


Figure 02

  1. In the Times tab. Configure the company business hours and if required special prompts for holidays.
  2. In the Features tab. We can define the operator extension number, if the caller can choose between calling the user extension or leaving a voice message; who the caller can contact if it is a specific Address List, users with a Dial Plan assigned or the default GAL, and finally we can define if we will allow a transfer to operator in business and non-business hours.
  3. In the Key Mapping tab. We will create the structure following our proposed plan, where the user can type or say the menu option and an action will be taken.

For our article we will create 4 menu items for business hours:

  • Type 1 or say Sales and be redirected to extension 670.
  • Type 2 or say Support and be directed to extension 680.
  • Type 3 or say Information, Business Hours and a specific audio file will be played (Figure 03).
  • Time-out, the call will be redirected to the operator.


Figure 03

We are also going to create a small menu prompt for non-business hours where the caller can contact a 24x7 support and the caller still will be able to listen to the business hours and locations. The final result can be seen in Figure 04.


Figure 04

Note:
Remember that only after enabling Key Mapping will the Main Menu Prompts be available for callers.

So far so good, we have a UM Auto Attendant configured properly using Greetings, Times, Features and Key Mapping. Now we have to avoid any problem that the caller might get if the speech recognition does not work for him. We can configure a fall back Auto Attendant to help any user where the voice commands are not recognized.

In order to do that we have to create a new Auto Attendant and configure it as DTMF and after that associate it with the current UM Auto Attendant.

  1. Create a new UM Auto Attendant but do not define it as speech enabled. This UM Auto Attendant will have the same configuration of the MainAA Auto Attendant but it will not use speech recognition only touchtone input. If the caller has any problem with the voice recognition the UM Sever will use this DTMF Auto Attendant to help the caller.
    Note:
    You might want to change the Main Menu prompts in the DTMF Auto Attendant and configure customized greetings and main menu prompts. These voice prompts should not have information about voice commands since this Auto Attendant will use only touchtone as input. Following the same idea the Key Mappings entries do not need to use voice information within the configuration.
  2. After that we must configure the failback in the MainAA, as properties of the MainAA and in the General Tab check the option Use this DTMF fallback auto attendant, and select the DTMF Auto Attendant as shown in Figure 05


Figure 05

Time to validate the UM Auto Attendant that we have just created. We can start calling the Auto Attendant to test the fail back configuration. Just call the Auto Attendant and say something that does not make sense a couple of times and you will be redirected to the fallback Auto Attendant.

In order to test our Key Mapping configuration, you can use the default greetings in the Main Menu Prompt, it will force Exchange Server to use TTS (Text-to-Speech) and we will be able to validate all the available options that one caller can use in the Auto Attendant. After validating everything we can configure the customized menu prompt and validate if it fits with the Key Mapping entries.

There are also a couple of common questions about the features tab that can come up during the deployment. Here are some answers to these before testing.

Auto attendant keeps asking if you want to be redirected to the extension or leave a message. How can I disable this?

This is normal behavior when you have Allow caller to transfer to users and Allow Callers to send voice messages selected in the Features tab. In order to avoid this just disable one of them.

Note:
Leaving only transfer to users’ extension will not block the leave message feature. If the redirection user’s extension is not picked up by the user, the caller will be able to leave a Voice Message as well.

How can we stop callers searching through the users using Auto Attendant?

Click on the Features tab, and then disable both options Allow caller to transfer to users and Allow Callers to send voice messages.

Conclusion

In this article we used the previous articles to create a simple scenario using UM Auto Attendant.  In the next and final article we are going to play with UM Language packs and Auto Attendant and how to use performance monitor to gather some information about our Auto Attendant infrastructure.

 If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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