Spotlight on Exchange 2010: Call Answering Rules (Part I) – Creating your first Call Answering Rule


One of the core functionalities provided by Exchange UM is call answering, i.e., to answer phone calls and record voice mails on your behalf. With the introduction of Call Answering Rules in Exchange UM 2010, you can dictate how incoming phone calls should be handled, thus enriching the call answering experience of your callers. In this article, we walk through the steps of creating a simple "default" call answering rule - one that is applied to all inbound phone calls.

I don't have any Call Answering Rule. So what?

Out-of-the-box, there are no Call Answering Rules created for you. All your callers will get the same default, call answering experience provided by UM 2007, i.e., callers will be prompted to leave you a voice message. Users who are satisfied with the default experience can continue to retain the same experience without the need to create any rule.

Creating a Default Call Answering Rule

As illustrated in Figure 1, the control for managing Call Answering Rules is located under ECP > Phone > Voice Mail tab. To create a new call answering rule, click on "New Rule".

Figure 1: Call Answering Rule Control

Anatomy of a Call Answering Rule

Each Call Answering Rule comprises two key aspects:

  • Conditions - what criteria must be met before the rule can be applied to an inbound call.
  • Actions - what options should be presented to the caller when all the conditions are met. These actions will be read to the caller over the phone and users can then pick an action using the phone keypad.

Figure 2 shows the form for creating a Call Answering Rule, which is divided into two columns. The right column displays the list of available conditions and actions you can use to build the rule. The left column displays the list of conditions and actions which have been added to the rule.

Figure 2: Call Answering Rule Form



Conditions

There are 4 classes of conditions supported by Call Answering Rules, including:

  • Caller ID
  • Time-of-the-day
  • Free/busy status
  • Automatic email reply is enabled/disabled

By using a combination of these conditions, you can create multiple Call Answering Rules and have them triggered for different phone calls. To create a default rule that will be applied to every call, you create a rule does not contain any condition. Since we are not adding any condition, I will not delve further into these conditions but leave them to my follow-up article.

Actions

There are 3 kinds of actions supported by Call Answering Rules, including:

  • Find-Me
  • Call Transfer
  • Leave a voice mail

Adding a Find-Me action

When a caller selects Find-Me action, UM will attempt to locate you on up to 2 different phone numbers, and then connect you to the caller. To add a Find-Me option, click on "Find me at the following numbers". In the Find-Me dialog and with reference to my example in Figure 3 :

  • You can optionally specify a context that will be read to the user. In my example, I have entered "important matters" to inform my callers that they should only select this action if they have important things to discuss.
  • You need to associate the Find-Me action with a number on the keypad. This is the key which the caller has to press to select this action. In my example, I have also specified "1" as the DTMF key to be used.
  • You also need to specify 1 to 2 phone numbers to be dialed. If 2 numbers are specified, they will be dialed in a sequential fashion, i.e., one after the other. Each phone number has an associated duration. This indicates how long UM should try dialing the phone number before moving on to the next number or revert back to the options menu.
  • Click on Apply to add the Find-Me option and close the dialog.

Figure 3: Find-Me Dialog

Adding a Call Transfer option

By configuring a Call Transfer action, you provide callers with the option to be transferred to someone else. To add a Call Transfer option, click on "Transfer the caller to..." link. In the Call Transfer dialog and with reference to my example in Figure 4.

  • You can optionally specify a context that will be read to the caller as part of this option. In my example, I have entered "Unified Messaging" to inform my callers that they can choose this option if they have questions around "Unified Messaging."
  • You need to associate the Find-Me action with a number on the keypad. I have specified "2" as the DTMF key to be used for this option.
  • You need to specify a transfer target for this option. This can be in the form of a phone number, or you can select an AD contact for the call transfer. When specifying the AD contact, UM will attempt to transfer the call to the UM extension of the AD contact. If the AD contact is not UM-enabled, the AD business phone number field will be used. In my example, I have selected my manager "Michael Wilson" as the transfer target.
  • Click on Apply to add the Call Transfer option and close the dialog.

Figure 4: Call Transfer Dialog

Adding Voice Mail action

By default, the Voice Mail option is automatically added to each Call Answering Rule. If you do not wish to offer this option, you can remove it by clicking:

 

To add the option back, simply click "Leave a Voice Message."

Saving the rule and trying it out

Prior to saying the rule, you need to give a meaningful name to the rule you've created. After which, you click on the SAVE button to create the rule. Next, you should test to see if the call answering rule is working as desired by trying to call your UM-enabled phone extension and wait for the call to be answered by UM.

Optional: Record a customized greeting

You can record a custom greeting for each rule. By default, UM will generate a default greeting based on the actions you have configured. To record a custom greeting, you can click on:

 

in the Call Answering Rule form and UM will call you up to record a greeting.

Note: In your recording, you should include any actions you have configured on the rule itself. UM will not list the actions if a custom greeting is present.

-Chun Yong Chua


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Comments (3)
  1. suresh nayak says:

    great – love to download the beta

  2. Gavin Zimmer says:

    Thanks for the screen shots. Are faxes handled the same as voicemail? love to see some screen shots on setting up the fax server as part of the unified messaging.

  3. Katarzyna Puchala says:

    Hi Gavin,

    No, faxes are handled differently from voice mail. In Exchange 2010, when a fax call arrives at UM server and the server detects that the call is for a UM-enabled user, who is enabled to receive faxes, then the call is referred to a partner fax server. The fax server needs to be set up by the administrator via a UMMailboxPolicy attribute called FaxServerURI. More details are forthcoming in a blog posting, which you will find here soon. So, check back! :)

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