Software Review

In the days of Lync Server 2010, we had a little app called Auto Attendant.  Made by Microsoft, it gave receptionists & office managers enhanced abilities to manage Lync calls.

You could still use Auto Attendant with Lync 2013.  But once Skype for Business Server came along, Auto Attendant faded away.  No longer needed, I heard some industry chatter say.

But I also heard many complaints about the missing Attendant Console. Businesses who’d used Lync liked it, and wanted to keep using it.  Would the old Lync Attendant Console still work with Skype4B?  If not, what would?

It didn’t take us long to find an alternative.  In fact, it was closer than we realized.

Attendant Pro from Landis Computer

You may recognize the name from Matt Landis, author of the stellar we’ve cited many times.  Matt’s company, Landis Computer, has created a new Attendant Console for Skype for Business.  They call it Attendant Pro.

Attendant Pro – Landis Computer

We have a Skype for Business customer which has a high-traffic front desk.  Four locations, one acting as a central hub, lots of people back and forth…it adds up to a bunch of calls every day.  Skype for Business can handle it, but the front desk team had problems managing calls almost immediately.

It’s the sort of situation for which Attendant Pro was created.

We reached out to Matt’s team for some advice on implementing Attendant Pro. They did more than just give us advice.  Paul from Landis kindly gave us a bunch of his time, going through Attendant Pro’s feature set and capabilities with our IT Consultants.

Once he was done, we had no problem recommending Attendant Pro to our customer.  Or becoming a Landis Partner!

I’m happy to share the story here, so you’ll have an idea of what Attendant Pro can do.  Bottom line: This client blows the old Lync Auto Attendant away in EVERY respect.  Landis went above & beyond Microsoft itself!

Attendant Pro’s Purpose: Do Call Management Simple, Do it Right

The basics of call management are pretty universal. With the calls coming in, the business needs:

  • A way for high-volume users (receptionist) to do their job more efficiently.
  • A method to route lots of calls, transfer/forward calls throughout the organization
  • A management system that makes handling the front desk easier

When using Skype for Business, your call management needs to stay consistent with the Skype4B system.

What Landis did was build a single-window app to organize calls, contacts, transfers, and shortcuts.  And here’s a bonus: it’s a 1-minute install.  No servers required, no configuration necessary.  Attendant Pro hooks into your existing Skype for Business client.  Any changes made in either your client or Attendant Pro?  The other reflects them automatically.

Here’s the Attendant Pro interface.

  1. The “Me Area.”  You control your Presence status from here.
  2. Incoming Calls pane.
  3. Current Call pane.
  4. Handled Calls pane.
  5. Quick Access Shortcuts pane.
  6. Contact Groups list. The Contact Details pane also appears here, which displays a contact’s details.
  7. Caller Information pane.
  8. Contact Search & Dial Pad pane.
  9. Hotkey/Quick Commands bar (along the bottom).  Has quick-reference keys for several commands (ex. Hit F9 to do a Blind Transfer), and clickable options like “Start Recording.”

YouTube Walkthrough of Attendant Pro Main Screen

Looks pretty straightforward, right?  That’s the point.  Everything’s right here in terms of activity.  The app’s configuration sits right behind these panes, making management tasks easy.  Let’s see just how easy with the feature set.

Features of Attendant Pro

Fair warning—this is a long list! (And I’ll bet I’m missing a few, as well!)

  • One Click Design: Perform many of the management tasks (forward calls, send to voicemail, start IM) with only one click.
  • Choose between a Skype-like interface or a Lync-like interface. It’s a checkbox under Options.
  • Multiple organization methods for contacts within Attendant Pro’s UI (groups, lists, etc.).  Attendant Pro will pull in contact groups from your own Skype client. If you make changes to contact groups within Attendant Pro, it will communicate that contact change back to your client as well.
  • Powerful Right-Click: Right-click any contact in the Contact Groups pane, and you have plenty of Skype-related options to use.
  • Surface-Friendly: You can use Attendant Pro on a Surface tablet as easily as a laptop. Manage calls while walking around!
  • 1 Click Call Transfer. You set the default transfer type (Blind, Consult, Safe) in Options. But, you can switch transfer modes right in the call as needed.
    • Perform a 1 Click Call Transfer (Video)
    • Do a Safe (No Redirect) Transfer (Video)
    • Do a Consult (Attended) Transfer (Video)
  • Add notes to a call before transferring, to inform users at a glance (like a Presence status for the call).
  • Send an Email Call Back Reminder: This feature creates a pre-filled email with the date/time of the original call, and a clickable number link. You can pass a note along to the intended recipient before you’ve even finished the original call!
  • Global Hotkeys. In Options, there’s a list of Shortcut Keys (not to be confused with Quick Access Shortcuts) you can set. A shortcut key to answer a call, put it on hold, transfer…and if you check the “Global” box, it becomes a global hotkey. Then it doesn’t matter which app you’re looking at–type in the shortcut keys and Attendant Pro does what you want.
  • Hold on Transfer – an option that automatically places a call on hold the moment the receptionist clicks Transfer. That way they can look up the contact they need for the transfer, and the caller’s not talking in their ear the whole time.
  • Day/Night Mode using Shortcuts (see the next bullet). Once “modes” like this are set up, you click once and you’re ready to go home.
  • Quick Access Shortcuts: Create shortcuts for frequent actions. Send an IM. Generate a pre-filled email. Change Presence status. Transfer calls. Forward all calls to voicemail. And many more. There’s a HUGE amount of timesaving capability here.

In fact, the Quick Access Shortcuts feature is so powerful, I want to dedicate a post just to its functions. Look for that next time.

Using Skype for Business? Have a Front Desk? You Need Attendant Pro.

Still using the old Lync Attendant–or worse, no call management system? Make the switch to Attendant Pro right now. You’ll be blown away by the improvements. There’s a 30-day free trial available: Download Trial of Attendant Pro. You do need Skype for Business or Lync Server installed.

If you’d rather get straight to using Attendant Pro, or you need help installing Skype for Business first, call us! (PlanetMagpie is a Landis Partner.)

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