Call Answering Rules (Part 2): Call Answering Conditions


In Exchange 2010, users can easily create call answering rules to have a call answered based on the specified conditions. Users can create rules to answer calls from specified callers or Contacts in a certain way, handle calls differently based on their availability (Free/Busy status) or time of day. The call answering rule will only be triggered when all the associated conditions are met. In this post, I will cover:

  • The different classes of conditions supported in UM 2010
  • How does UM go about evaluating a given set of call answering rules

This article assumes that you have read my previous post Call Answering Rules (Part I) - Creating your first Call Answering Rule.

The Call Answering Rule form

The diagram below shows you the Call Answering Rule form. In particular:

  • Condition(s) which have already been added to the rule is located on the left (in green). You can remove them by clicking on the symbol beside the condition.
  • Condition(s) which you can further add to this rule is located on the right (in red). To start adding new condition, simplify click on the condition desired.


Figure 1: The call answering rule form

Different classes of conditions

There are 4 different classes of conditions supported by UM 2010, namely:

  • Caller identity
  • Time-of-the-day
  • Calendar free/busy status
  • When my automated email reply is turned on
  1. Caller Identity

    Users can use different call answering rules for different callers. For example, if you receive a call from an important customer's phone number, you can answer it differently. To answer calls based on caller identity, users can add a caller-ID condition to a call answering rule such that the rule will only be triggered if the calling party matches one of those specified. To configure this condition:

    1. Click on "If the caller is." condition to bring up the following UI control.

      Figure 2: Call answering rule based on caller
    2. Specify 1 or more phone numbers, pick Contacts from the GAL or your Contacts folder, or specify the entire Contacts folder.
    3. Click on "Apply" to close the UI control.
  2. Time of Day

    Users can add a time-of-the-day condition to a call answering rule such that the rule will only be triggered if the time of the call matches the time period specified. For example, during working hours, calls can be answered using the "Follow-Me" action, or routed straight to voicemail during after-hours. To configure this condition:

    1. Click on If it is during this period. condition to bring up the following UI control:

      Figure 3: Call answering rule based on time of day
    2. Specify a period, either working hours, non-working hours or custom hours.
    3. Click on Apply to close the UI control.
  3. Calendar Free/Busy status

    Users can specify a condition for a call answering rule based on their availability (calendar Free/Busy status). To do so:

    1. Click on If my schedule shows that my status is. condition to bring up the following UI control:

      Figure 4: Call answering rule based on Free/Busy Status
    2. Pick one or more Free/Busy status which you want this rule to fire. In the example provided, I have specified that the call answering rule to be triggered if my calendar shows that I am either Busy or Away.
    3. Click on Apply to close the UI control.
  4. When my automated email reply is turned on

    Users can specify that a call answering rule only be fired when their automatic email reply is turned on. To do so, simply click on "If Automatic Replies are turned on" condition.

      Call Answering Rules and conditions

      It is possible to associate the same call answering rule with multiple conditions. All the conditions must be met in order for the call answering rule to be trigger. You can also create call answering rules without specifying any condition. When such a rule is encountered, it will be triggered as though all its conditions are met.

      Multiple Call Answering Rules

      You can create one or more call answering rules. You can also associate each call answering rule with one or more conditions. The diagram below illustrates an example with 3 call answering rules configured. You can enable/disable or reorder the rules.


      Figure 5: Multiple call answering rules

      As illustrated in the flow diagram below, for each call answering call received:

      • No call answering rules configured: If you do not have any call answering rules configured, UM will offer the caller to leave a voice message.
      • One or more call answering rules configured: If there are one or more call answering rules configured, UM will evaluate these rules in a top-down fashion. The first rule, whose conditions are met, will be fired.
      • After evaluating all the rules, if UM is unable to find a rule whose conditions are met, UM will offer the caller to leave a voice message.


      Figure 6: How UM call answering rules are evaluated

      Call answering rules are an Exchange 2010 feature, and only available to UM-enabled users with a mailbox on an Exchange 2010 Mailbox server.

      -Chun Yong Chua

      Comments (2)
      1. PleaseAddGuiFunctionsBack says:

        Are rules triggered only after the phone has already rung multiple times and triggered voicemail, or does it start rule processing as soon as the toast is seen?

        I would like to create a rule that only allows calls from my contact list and my GAL, and pushes all others (and the dreaded "unknown Caller") to voicemail.  This is something many in my company would like, to get rid of cold sales calls, survey requests, recruiter calls, etc.

      2. Answering Rules says:

        I like how you put a very definitive flowchart that really makes it easy to understand how an answering rules function.

      Comments are closed.

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