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Understanding Operator Transfers in Unified Messaging

 

Applies to: Exchange Server 2007 SP3, Exchange Server 2007 SP2, Exchange Server 2007 SP1, Exchange Server 2007

Topic Last Modified: 2007-10-22

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging includes functionality that enables callers to be transferred to an operator if the caller is unable to correctly navigate the system or must speak to a human operator. There are several types of operators that you can configure. These operators allow callers to be forwarded to the extension number of a receptionist, administrative assistant, operator, or auto attendant instead of the calls being transferred. This topic discusses the different operators that you can configure in Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging and how incoming calls can be transferred to each type of operator depending on how the caller dials into the Unified Messaging system.

In Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging, you can configure one or all the following kinds of operators:

  • A dial plan operator
  • An auto attendant operator
  • A personal operator

The following figure illustrates the different types of operators found in Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging.

Unified Messaging Operators

With Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging, you have the option to configure an operator extension on UM dial plans, UM auto attendants, and on a UM-enabled user's mailbox. If you have configured an operator extension number on a UM dial plan or on a non-speech enabled UM auto attendant, the caller will hear a voice prompt that says "To reach an operator, press 0". When a caller calls in to a speech-enabled UM auto attendant and an operator extension number is configured, the caller will have the option to press 0 or say "operator" or "reception" and be transferred to an operator extension number.

When you configure an operator extension number for a UM dial plan, auto attendant, or personal operator, you can configure the operator extension number by using one of the following:

  • An internal telephone extension number   This can be an extension number for a specific user such as a receptionist, administrative assistant, or another person within the organization that is available to answer the call. Generally, this will be an extension number where a person is always available to answer an incoming call.
  • An extension number for a UM auto attendant   This can be used when you want to allow the caller additional menu options before they are transferred to a human operator or when your organization does not have a human operator. In this case, you can configure an extension number that transfers the incoming call to the extension number that is associated with a UM auto attendant. The auto attendant can be either speech-enabled or not speech-enabled.
  • An external telephone number   This can be used when a vendor or external answering service is used to answer incoming calls for your organization. If you choose to configure an operator extension number with a telephone number that is external to your organization, you must verify that you have correctly configured your outdialing rules on the UM dial plans and Private Branch eXchanges (PBXs) so that the call transfers will be successful.

At a minimum, we recommended that you configure either the UM dial plan or a UM auto attendant that is associated with the dial plan to have an operator extension number to help callers find the user they are trying to reach or navigate the menu system. For more information about how to configure an operator extension on a UM auto attendant, see How to Configure an Operator Extension on a Unified Messaging Auto Attendant. For more information about how to configure an operator extension number on a UM dial plan, see How to Configure an Operator Extension on a Unified Messaging Dial Plan.

Although Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging has many Active Directory objects that must be created and configured during deployment, UM dial plan objects are the central component of the Unified Messaging system. A UM dial plan object is an Exchange 2007 organization-wide object that is created in the Active Directory directory service.

The Unified Messaging dial plan is an Active Directory container object that logically represents sets or groupings of PBXs that share common user extension numbers. In practical terms, user extensions that are hosted on PBXs share a common extension numbering format. Users in the same dial plan can dial one another's telephone extensions without appending a special number to the extension or dialing a full telephone number. Therefore, a UM dial plan is a logical representation of a telephony dial plan that is created on a PBX or IP PBX.

There are two types of callers who will access the Unified Messaging system by using the subscriber access number that is configured on a UM dial plan: unauthenticated callers and authenticated callers. When a caller dials the subscriber access number that is configured on a dial plan, the caller is considered anonymous or unauthenticated until they input information. This information includes their voice mail extension and a PIN. The only option that is available to anonymous or unauthenticated callers is the directory search feature. However, if an operator extension number is configured on the dial plan, the unauthenticated user can use the directory search feature and can also press 0 to be transferred to the operator's extension number that is configured on the dial plan.

After the caller inputs their extension number and their PIN, they will be authenticated and given access to their Exchange 2007 mailbox. After the caller gains access to their mailbox, they will use Outlook Voice Access. Outlook Voice Access is a series of voice prompts that allow the authenticated caller to access their e-mail, voice mail, calendar, and contact information by using a standard analog, digital, or cellular telephone. Outlook Voice Access also enables authenticated callers to navigate their personal information in their mailbox, place calls, locate users, and navigate the system prompts and menus by using dual tone multi-frequency (DTMF) or voice inputs.

When a UM-enabled user uses Outlook Voice Access, they can perform the following tasks:

  • Listen to new and saved e-mail and voice mail messages.
  • Forward, reply, save, and delete e-mail and voice mail messages.
  • Interact with their calendar.
  • Locate a person in the global address list (GAL) or personal contacts.
  • Send a voice message to a person.
  • Change their PIN, spoken name, or greetings.

When an Outlook Voice Access user dials the subscriber access number that is configured on a UM dial plan and an operator extension is configured on the dial plan, when the caller presses the 0 key or says "operator" or "reception", they will be transferred to the telephone number that you have configured on the UM dial plan. If no telephone number is configured for an operator extension on the dial plan, the user will not be given an option to reach an operator and will be politely disconnected from the Unified Messaging system. The following figure illustrates the operator transfer options that are available to an Outlook Voice Access user when they dial in to a subscriber access number.

Outlook Voice Access Operator Transfers

For more information about subscriber access in Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging, see Understanding Unified Messaging Subscriber Access.

For a printable copy of the menus and options that are available with Outlook Voice Access, see the Microsoft Download Center for a copy of the Outlook Voice Access Quick Reference Guide.

In Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging, many Active Directory objects must be created and configured during and after deployment. UM auto attendants are not required objects. They are an optional component of the Unified Messaging system that you can configure. A UM auto attendant object is an Exchange 2007 organization-wide object that is created in Active Directory.

Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging enables you to create one or more UM auto attendants, depending on the needs of your organization. UM auto attendants can be used to create a voice menu system for an organization. This voice menu system lets external and internal callers locate users in an organization and place or transfer calls to users, departments, or to an operator extension number that has been configured on the UM auto attendant.

You can configure an operator extension number on speech-enabled and non-speech enabled UM auto attendants. Configuring an operator extension number on a UM auto attendant allows callers to press 0 or say "operator" or "receptionist" to transfer to a human operator or another auto attendant if they cannot navigate the auto attendant menu. There are three types of UM auto attendants that you can configure to use an operator extension number:

  • A non-speech enabled auto attendant
  • A speech-enabled auto attendant that does not have a DTMF fallback
  • A speech-enabled auto attendant that has a DTMF fallback

You can configure the operator extension number on a UM auto attendant to be the extension number of a human operator, another auto attendant, a UM-enabled mailbox, or a telephone number that is external to an organization. An internal or external telephone number from 1 to 20 digits can be entered for the operator's extension number. If you use an external telephone number, you must verify that you have correctly configured the appropriate outdialing rule groups and entries to enable this functionality. For more information about how to configure outdialing entries, see How to Create a Dialing Rule Entry on a Unified Messaging Dial Plan.

If you have created a speech-enabled auto attendant and have configured an operator extension on the speech-enabled auto attendant, when the caller says "operator", the auto attendant will forward the call to the number that is configured on the speech-enabled auto attendant. If the speech-enabled auto attendant is configured to have a DTMF fallback auto attendant but not to have an operator extension number and the DTMF auto attendant is configured to have an operator extension number, the operator extension number on the DTMF fallback auto attendant will be dialed. If no extension number is configured on the speech-enabled auto attendant or the DTMF fallback auto attendant and the caller says "operator", the system will call the operator extension that is configured on the dial plan that is associated with the auto attendant. If neither of the auto attendants or the dial plan is configured to have an operator extension, the system will respond by saying "Sorry. Neither the operator or the touchtone service are available".

noteNote:
At a minimum, we recommend that you configure either the auto attendant or the dial plan that is associated with the auto attendant to have an operator extension number to help callers.

For UM auto attendants, you can configure business hours operator transfers on the properties for the UM auto attendant. However, by default, business hours transfers are enabled. You can also configure non-business hours operator transfers on the UM auto attendant. However, by default, the business hours for a UM auto attendant are 24 hours a day. This means that non-business hours or after hours operator transfers will not be available. To configure operator transfers after business hours, you must first configure the business hours schedule on the UM auto attendant properties and then enable or disable operator transfers during business or non-business or hours.

The following figure illustrates the operator transfer options that are available to a caller when they dial in to a UM auto attendant that is not speech-enabled. For more information about how to create a UM auto attendant, see How to Create a New Unified Messaging Auto Attendant.

Non speech-enabled auto attendant

The following figure illustrates the operator transfer options that are available to a caller when they dial in to a UM auto attendant that is speech-enabled but does not have a DTMF fallback auto attendant configured. For more information about how to speech-enable a UM auto attendant, see How to Speech-Enable a Unified Messaging Auto Attendant.

Speech Enabled AA without a DTMF fallback

The following figure illustrates the operator transfer options that are available to a caller when they dial in to a UM auto attendant that is speech-enabled and also has a DTMF fallback auto attendant configured. For more information about how to configure a UM auto attendant that has a DTMF fallback auto attendant, see How to Configure a Unified Messaging Auto Attendant with a DTMF Fallback Auto Attendant.

Speech Enabled AA with a DTMF fallback

Although UM auto attendants are an optional feature that can be created and configured when you are deploying Unified Messaging, we recommended that, if you make the choice to create and configure a single UM auto attendant or multiple auto attendants, you take the time to plan them carefully. One of the most important factors when planning for auto attendants is to make sure that callers can contact a human operator or another auto attendant to correctly direct their calls. If you do not plan and implement the auto attendants for your organization correctly, the system could frustrate callers enough that they will not call in to the system again.

Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging enables you to configure a personal operator extension number on a user's UM-enabled mailbox. As the administrator, you can configure a personal operator for a UM-enabled user. However, the UM-enabled user will be unable to configure this setting. If the UM-enabled user were to have access to configure this setting, they could potentially forward all their calls to another UM-enabled user or to an internal extension number that is not valid. This could be very frustrating for the user to whom the calls were being forwarded for callers. Callers would be unable to leave a voice message for the UM-enabled user they were trying to contact and could lose their place in the menu system, and eventually give up without reaching the user they were trying to contact.

The personal operator extension setting on a UM-enabled user's mailbox can be used when an administrative assistant or personal assistant will answer incoming calls for a specific user instead of a voice mail being generated for the user. By default, a personal operator extension number is not defined.

For a caller to be transferred to a personal operator, the caller must enter 0 on the telephone keypad when the user's custom voice mail message greeting is being played. Therefore, we recommended that, if a user is going to use a personal operator, they include information in their custom voice mail greeting to give the caller instructions about how to access their personal operator.

However, if the user has not configured a customized voice mail greeting, the default system greeting will be used and the system will add the operator prompt automatically. For example, "Please leave a message for Tony Smith. To speak to an administrative assistant and leave a message, press 0". If the caller does not press 0 during the voice mail greeting, the caller will be able to leave a voice message for the user.

If you have not configured a personal operator extension for a UM-enabled user's mailbox, the Unified Messaging server will use the operator extension number that is configured on the UM auto attendant or UM dial plan, depending on which number the caller has called. If the caller has called an auto attendant telephone extension number, they will be forwarded to the operator, if one has been configured on the UM auto attendant. If they have called the subscriber access number that is configured on a UM dial plan, the caller will be forwarded to the operator extension number that is configured on the UM dial plan. If an operator extension has not been configured, the caller will be politely disconnected from the system. For more information about how to configure a personal operator, see How to Configure a Personal Operator for a UM-Enabled User.

In most cases, an internal extension number for an administrative assistant, receptionist, or operator will be configured as a personal operator. A personal operator extension number can be configured as an internal or external telephone number that ranges from 1 to 20 digits. However, if you use an external telephone number, you must verify that you have correctly configured the appropriate outdialing rule groups and entries to enable this functionality. For more information about how to configure outdialing entries, see How to Create a Dialing Rule Entry on a Unified Messaging Dial Plan.

To ensure that you are reading the most up-to-date information and to find additional Exchange Server 2007 documentation, visit the Exchange Server TechCenter.
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