The auto attendant functions like a virtual receptionist, connecting incoming calls to extensions and other devices that have been configured to the system. The auto attendant often announces a company’s name, followed by a selection of dialing options. A typical welcome message might be “Thank you for calling Company ABC, “for Sales, press 1,” “for Accounts, press 2,” and “for the dial-by-name directory, press 4.” Callers press the number that corresponds with their selection and are directed accordingly.
Creating an Auto Attendant
- Go to your selected domain in the web interface.
- Go to auto attendants by clicking on Auto Attendants under Accounts as shown above.
- On top, click the tab Create to create a new auto attendant.
- In the Account Name field, enter an extension number and/or alias, i.e., a DID number. When entering an alias in addition to an extension number, use the following syntax: 667/9781234567.
Note: If you use a space instead of a slash (667 9781234567), you will create two separate accounts that will be unrelated to each other.
- To create multiple accounts at the same time, use a space between the numbers: 667 668 669
- Press Create.
- The auto attendant(s) will be created which you can see in the “auto attendant list” or in “all accounts list”, where you can enter each auto attendant just by clicking it, in order to modify it if you want, as explained below.
Configuring an Auto Attendant
Once you’ve created an auto attendant account, use the following information to configure your settings.
- Go to your selected domain in the web interface.
- Go to Auto Attendants.
- Click on any auto attendant from the list that you want to change.
- Here you can configure the settings. You can also go back to the list of Auto Attendants, if you want, by clicking on theList tab above.
Explanation and Use of Some of the Settings
Account Number(s): This field takes extension number(s) and/or DID number(s). The number of DIDs that can be entered into this field is unlimited.
Name: This field allows you to create an alias so that you can quickly identify the Account among other Accounts. For example, when creating aliases for an auto attendant, you might use the names Day Auto Attendant and Night Auto Attendant to distinguish the auto attendants from one another.
Behavior settings allow you to specify a wide range of settings, e.g., dial-by-name settings, recording settings, and monitoring settings.
- Extension Input: This setting allows you to determine when the auto attendant will begin the search for an extension that matches the user’s input. The available options are detailed below:
- —When Extension Matches: The auto attendant will wait until the caller’s digit sequence matches an existing account. Once the auto attendant finds a match, it will call that extension. This mechanism is useful when accounts of varying name length are used; however, it might be annoying to callers who enter a non-existing number since the auto attendant will never begin the search.
- —After 1/2/3/4/5 Digit Input: The auto attendant will wait until the correct number of digits has been entered before it will begin looking for an account that matches. If the account does not exist, the system will play an announcement indicating that the extension does not exist.
- —User Must Hit Pound: The auto attendant will wait until the user hits the # sign before searching for an extension. This mode is useful in variable-length scenarios.
- Say Name: When this setting is enabled, the system announces the name that was recorded for the account being called. If the user did not record a name, the system will play back the extension number.
- Accounts that may record a message: Enter the extensions that are allowed to record auto attendant messages.
- Warning: Leaving this field blank can be risky, as all users will be permitted to record messages, and there is nothing preventing the creation of bogus recordings.
- Dial Plan for outbound calls: Choose the dial plan that you would like the system to use when routing calls to an outside provider. (For more information about dial plans, see Chapter 5, “Dial Plans.”)
- ANI: Automatic Number Identification (ANI) is a mechanism that allows phone companies to determine which account should be charged for a call. The ANI is automatically sent to wherever the call is made, and although ANI seems similar to caller-ID, the two are quite different. Caller-ID often reflects the main number of a business, rather than the actual number that made the call. In addition, the ANI shows the class of service of the phone number, while caller-ID shows only the name and number.
- Send daily CDR report to: The call data record (CDR) lists all calls that come into the auto attendant. The report is sent nightly at midnight to the email address listed in this field (e.g., email@example.com). Only one email address is allowed in this field.
- Set Language: The auto attendant supports multiple-language environments. You may explicitly specify the language that should be used as the primary language. This setting may differ from the default language in the domain.
- Second Language: If you are operating the system in a dual-language environment (for example, Germany and France), you may want to offer callers a second language. To set this up, use direct destinations, as shown in Figure 9-4. The destination that you send the caller to should have the announced language. If you do not enter a destination, the system will switch the language but continue waiting for input. When a hash sign is placed after a direct destination, the system will wait a few seconds to prevent a conflict with extensions beginning with the same number (in this case, a “1,” as shown in the example below).
- Note: Although the system’s language default is limited to two languages, additional languages can be offered by creating multiple auto attendants in different languages. For example, you could set up the first auto attendant to offer a menu of language choices (e.g., “for English, press 1,” “for French, press 2,” or “for German, press 3”). The first auto attendant would be the English auto attendant, the second would be French, and the third would be German. In a scenario such as this, each auto attendant would be set to its respective language. See “Audio Prompts” in Chapter 18 for more information on audio prompts and languages that can be downloaded.
- Permissions to monitor this account: By default, the telephone system allows any phone within the domain to monitor an auto attendant account. The account is monitored through the busy lamp field (BLF). To permit only certain extensions to monitor the account, enter those extensions here.
- Wait before answering the call: This setting determines the number of seconds that will lapse between the time the system picks up the call and the time the welcome message begins playing. Use this setting if the initial part of the greeting is cut off.
- Treat star (*) as special key: This setting allows you to deactivate the functionality of the star key so that it will behave similarly to keys 0 through 9 when the auto attendant is playing a message.
The timeout functionality allows you to provide callers with a way to exit the auto attendant when calling from phones with no dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) signaling (i.e., Touch-Tone). Without DTMF signaling, callers aren’t able to press the auto attendant options and would otherwise be stuck. The timeout functionality lets you specify how long the auto attendant should wait before it redirects the call or hangs up.
- Redirect Number: This setting allows to you to tell the auto attendant where to direct a call when a caller does not enter the required information within the set timeout period. Enter an extension number into this field.
- Timeout(s): The auto attendant will redirect a caller to the redirect number after a specified number of seconds.
- Hangup Timeout: The auto attendant will terminate a call after a specified number of seconds if the user does not enter anything. This feature call help clear a call when the PSTN gateway is not able to detect that the caller has already hung up.
- Number of times to repeat the welcome message: This setting determines the number of times the welcome message is played.
Night service is used to redirect calls to other extensions or phone numbers during certain times of the day/night or other events that are outside normal business hours. Before night service can be used, a Service Flag account must be created for each night service number.
- Service Flag Account: Once you have created the service flag account(s), enter the number of the account(s) as shown below.
- Night Service Number: Once a service flag is in place, the auto attendant can redirect calls directly to the indicated night service number(s). Internal extensions or external number phone numbers may be used in this field.
- Note: You may specify more than one night service flag (separated by a space). The first service flag account will correspond to the first night service number, and the second service flag account will correspond to the second night service number, etc. For example, if you have three service flags “75”, “76” and “77” which should redirect the calls to extension “45”, external number “212-123-4567″ or to the hunt group “71” when active respectively, you would set theService Flag Account to “75 76 77″ and the Night Service Number to “45 2121234567 71″.
Dial By Name
The Dial-by-Name feature allows callers to enter numbers from their telephone keypad. The system will search for corresponding names.
The search will start from all word boundaries (starting from 5.0.4). For example, if a person’s first name is “Klaus Peter” and last name is “van Dueck”, the PBX will translate that into “55287 73837 826 38325″. The PBX does not translate special characters like äöüê.
The following settings are available:
- Input that triggers name search: Specify the number that the user will be required to press in order to access the dial-by-name directory; for example, enter a 1 into this field if you’d like the caller to hear, “For our dial-by-name directory, press 1.” If you put “start” in here, the auto attendant will automatically enter the dial by name mode when it gets started. In this mode, the user will not be able to navigate to the regular auto attendant.
- Start search: This setting determines the number of digits that will be required before the system begins searching for corresponding names. The digits correspond to the letters that are on the keys (e.g., “2” = “ABC,” 3 = “DEF,” and so on). Key “0” maps only to the symbol “0”, and key “1” maps to all other characters. When several matches are available, the system will list the available matches in a menu. The caller can always cancel the search by pressing the star (*) key.
The Direct Destinations feature is somewhat like a built-in version of the IVR system. To direct inbound calls to specified extensions, you can use the pre-configured destination fields and link them to pre-recorded announcements and user input options. Using the sample shown below, the auto attendant’s welcome message will be as follows: “For Sales, press 1. For Support, press 2. For Accounting, press 3. For all other inquiries, press 0.” (The user input options are linked to extensions 555, 518, 511, and 570.)
When configuring straightforward, uncomplicated auto attendants, direct destinations are a great solution. However, when configuring auto attendants that require advanced IVR development and functionality, the IVR node is recommended.
Once the direct destination links have been established, the system will call the destination number whenever a caller enters the number that is associated with it. In the sample shown above, when the caller presses 1, the call will be connected to extension 555.
By placing a pound sign after the direct destination (e.g., “1#”), the system will wait 3 seconds before dialing the direct destination. This is useful if you have extension numbers in the 100 range (101, 102, etc.). The 3-second delay ensures that the caller’s complete input (e.g., 101) will be processed rather than just the first digit.
- Input number: This number can be one or multiple digits; however, the system dials direct destinations immediately after a user has provided keypad input, so overlapping between a direct destination and an extension number can be a problem. For example, extensions starting with “1” would conflict with a direct destination of “1” because the system would be unable to dial the extension number. The best way to avoid this situation is to choose extension numbers that do not overlap with either direct destinations or mailbox and outbound call prefixes. The extension range 4xx through 7xx meets these criteria. Wild cards can also be used in this field.
- —If circumstances render it difficult to change the extension assignments (e.g., business cards with extension numbers already in circulation), a timeout mechanism can be used. By placing a pound sign after the direct destination (e.g., “1#”), the system will wait for 3 seconds before dialing the destination.
- —To redirect fax messages to a specific destination, you can use the direct destination “F”. The CNG tone that announces a fax tone is recognized by the system and is translated into the “F” key.
- Destination: This number can be either an internal number (e.g., an extension or conference room) or an external number.
- When more than ten direct dial options are needed, auto attendants can be nested within one another.
- Gap time: This setting determines the number of seconds that will lapse between the different audio options: e.g., “For sales, press 1” (3 seconds), “For accounting, press 2” (3 seconds), etc.
It is also possible to use patterns in the direct destination. For example, the pattern 2xxx means that all 4-digit numbers which start with the number 2 will match the input. The rules are the same as for the dial plan. The replacement pattern has to be put into the destination field and it may also use the same patterns like in the dial plan; however the destination may not be empty. You may use the star symbol to use the complete input pattern.