After long previews (and a few delays), Microsoft is finally adding Auto Attendant and Call Queues to Skype for Business Online.
Skype for Business drives digital transformation – Office Blogs
Microsoft adds new calling features to Skype for Business – ZDNet
Let’s do a quick rundown on the new features first. I’m glad to see Skype for Business Online users getting these…even though Skype for Business Server users have had them for a while.
What the Auto Attendant and Call Queues Do
Auto Attendant is an automated system to answer and route inbound calls using dial pad inputs and speech recognition. You’ve encountered these plenty of times, when calling ISPs, telecom providers, or enterprise companies.
“To speak with Sales, press 1. To access a dial-by-name directory, please press Pound.”
Call Queues route incoming calls to the next available live attendant in the order they are received. Same deal as Auto Attendants…in fact, I don’t recall any instance where I’ve encountered one without the other. Creating both together is standard practice for all of our Skype for Business (Server) customers.
“Yes, I know you were calling for Alice, but she’s on the other line right now. My name’s Bob, how can I help you?”
Doesn’t Skype for Business Server have these features?
The question a lot of people (including some of our readers) have asked. Yes, these calling features already exist for Skype for Business Server users.
In fact, we’ve discussed them a few times here on the blog. These are the Auto Attendant-related posts:
The Two Types of Response Group Management (and When to Use Them) Examining Lync’s Connection Tools: OCSUMUtil Auto Attendant Failing? Your UM Dial Plan Can’t Have Spaces in its Name Software Review: Attendant Pro (Part 1) Software Review: Attendant Pro (Part 2) – Quick Access Shortcuts
Noted Skype for Business expert (and longtime friend to the blog!) Jeff Schertz has an excellent post addressing Auto Attendant as well: Skype for Business and Exchange UM Integration – Jeff Schertz’s Blog
Here are the Call Queues-related posts (not as many, but it’s hard to focus on one without the other): The Two Types of Response Group Management (and When to Use Them) Examining Lync’s Connection Tools: OCSUMUtil (Gee, sensing a pattern here…) Lync Updates for January 2014: Server 2013, Phone Edition and Lync for iPhone All Updated How to Create a Response Group: 20 Tasks Every Lync Administrator Must Know
Why the Delay?
These features integrate with Cloud PBX. Which, as you’re aware, creates a telephony system in the cloud to replace your PBX-based on-site phone system.
Adding more calling features to the existing Cloud PBX – while it’s in use, no less! – would require a good chunk of engineering. Field testing them rigorously is necessary (hence the preview). Given all that, I understand the slow development pace.
What I don’t understand is why they weren’t integrated when Cloud PBX was first deployed. The functionality did exist, as part of Skype for Business Server’s voice routing capability.