One of the great capabilities of Exchange 2007 and 2010 is UM (unified messaging). I've explained before how to set up an Exchange UM server, but there's more to discuss. For example, Exchange UM provides an auto-attendant, which can be voice-enabled and provide users a hands-free way to connect into their company directory to speak with someone or to check their mail, calendar, contacts, and so forth, as well as deliver custom greetings and announcements.
But you'll likely want to do more than set up the default auto-attendant. Exchange lets you create custom auto-attendants, but there are some tricks to be aware of.
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First, why even bother with custom auto-attendants? There are several reasons:
- If a person has a thick accent and/or difficulty speaking, an alternate auto-attendant can provide directory lookup and key mappings through the phone keypad. This is called a DTMF (dual-tone multifrequency) fallback attendant. If a person makes several mistakes when trying to use the voice-enabled auto-attendant, the UM server will switch to the DTMF keypad attendant. In addition, you can provide a separate pilot identifier (the ID for the auto-attendant) so that people can dial the DTMF attendant directly if they prefer.
- If you have employees or customers who speak a variety of languages, you might want auto-attendants for each language. Note that you need to install the proper language pack on the UM server first.
- If you have specialty options for various departments or products, you might want to provide departmental auto-attendants that can be contacted directly either through a specific pilot identifier or through key mappings off the main attendant for a dial plan. So if a person presses 1 or says "sales" (or whatever you determine), he or she is immediately switched to the sales auto-attendant and its sales-specific options.
Although I find it more fun to set up auto-attendants than to use them (my advice: keep them very simple), there are several issues on the recording side that you should know to avoid frustration.