Set up a Cloud auto attendant

Auto attendants let people call your organization and navigate a menu system to speak to the right department, call queue, person, or an operator. You can create auto attendants for your organization with the Microsoft Teams admin center, or with Powershell. To create an auto attendant, go to Voice in the left navigation, and then select Auto attendants > Add new.

If you want to learn more about auto attendants, see What are Cloud auto attendants?

Note

This article applies to both Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business Online.

Phone numbers are not directly assigned to the auto attendant, but rather to a resource account that is associated to the auto attendant.

Auto attendant implementations often involve several auto attendants. A first-level auto attendant usually has a resource account with an assigned phone number. A nested auto attendant is used as a second-level menu that the first-level auto attendant connects as call to. A nested auto attendant isn't required to have a phone number assigned to its resource account.

Step 1 — Get started

  • An auto attendant is required to have an associated resource account. See Manage resource accounts in Teams for details on resource accounts and all licenses required.

Tip

To redirect calls to an operator or a menu option that is an Online user with a Phone System license, you will need to enable them for Enterprise Voice. See Assign Skype for Business licenses or Assign Microsoft Teams licenses. You can also use Windows PowerShell. For example, run: Set-CsUser -identity "Amos Marble" -EnterpriseVoiceEnabled $true

Step 2 — Create auto attendants

Important

Every auto attendant is required to have an associated resource account. You must create the resource account first, then you can associate it to the auto attendant.

With the Microsoft Teams admin center

In the Microsoft Teams admin center, click Voice > Auto attendants, then click + Add:

General info page

Screenshot of the My Auto Attendant page


Icon of the number 1, a callout in the previous screenshot Name Enter a display name for your auto attendant. The name is required and can contain up to 64 characters, including spaces. The Name you designate here is listed in a column on the Auto attendants tab.


Icon of the number 2,  a callout in the previous screenshot Operator This is optional (but recommended). You can set the Operator option to allow callers to break out of the menus and speak to a designated person.

The 0 key is assigned to Operator by default.

If you set an Operator, tell people who call about the option in Edit menu options on the Call flow page. If you set an operator on your auto attendant, you enter the corresponding prompt text in the Callers will hear box or change your audio file to include this option. For example, "For the Operator, press zero."

You have several ways to set the Operator:

  • No operator disables the "Operator" and "Press 0" options. This is the current default.

  • Person in your organization assigns a person with a Phone System license that is enabled for Enterprise Voice or assigned Calling Plans in Office 365. You can also set it up so the caller is sent to voicemail. To send a caller to voicemail, select Person in your organization and set that account's settings to send calls directly to voicemail.

    Note

    Person in your organization can be an Online user or a user hosted on-premises using Skype for Business Server.

  • Voice app Select the name of the resource account linked to an auto attendant or call queue that has already been created. Callers that request an operator are redirected there.


Icon of the number 3,  a callout in the previous screenshot Time zone You are required to set the time zone for your auto attendant. The setting can be the same as the time zone of the main address listed for your organization, or a different time zone. Each auto attendant can have a different time zone. The business hours set for the auto attendant also use this time zone. Make sure to set the right timezone to avoid business-hours discrepancies since not all regions have Daylight Saving.


Icon of the number 4,  a callout in the previous screenshot Language Select the language that you want to use for your auto attendant. The auto attendant uses that language with callers, and all system prompts are played in this language.


Icon of the number 5,  a callout in the previous screenshot Enable voice inputs Speech recognition is available if this option is selected. Callers can use voice input in the language you set. If you want to only let people use their phone keypad to make selections, you can leave speech recognition set to Off.


When you finish with your selections, click Next.

Call flow

Tip

You can choose to set up a custom business hours schedule, with different call flow behaviors during and after business hours. To set a custom schedule, set the optional Call flow for after hours. By default, an auto attendant uses business hours call flows.

You can set up customized greetings, prompts, and menus that people hear when they reach your auto attendant.

Screenshot: call handling page Greeting section


First play a greeting message A greeting is optional and can be set to No greeting, Play an audio file, or Type a greeting message.

Note

A greeting is most valuable for a first-level auto attendant. A nested auto attendant often doesn't need a greeting.

Icon of the number 1,  a callout in the previous screenshot If you select No Greeting, the caller doesn't hear a message or greeting before the call is handled by one of the actions you select later.

Icon of the number 2,  a callout in the previous screenshot If you select Play an audio file you can use the Upload file button to upload a recorded greeting message saved as audio in .WAV, .MP3, or .WMA format. The recording can be no larger than 5 MB.

Icon of the number 3,  a callout in the previous screenshot Type a greeting message If you choose this option, enter the text you want the system to read (up to 1000 characters) in the field provided. For example, enter "Welcome to Contoso. Your call is important to us." Output is created by text-to-voice software.


You can select what happens next to calls from the following actions in the Then route the call section. Settings are Disconnect, Redirect call, or Play menu options.

If you select Disconnect, the caller is disconnected after the greeting plays.

Icon of the number 4,  a callout in the previous screenshot Redirect call sends the caller to the chosen destination without choosing from options. The possible settings are:

  • Person in organization The account you choose must have a Phone System license enabled for Enterprise Voice or have an assigned Calling Plan in Office 365. You can set it up so the caller can be sent to voicemail: select Person in organization and set that account to have calls forwarded directly to voicemail.

Note

Person in organization can be an Online user or a user hosted on-premises using Skype for Business Server.

  • Voice App Select an auto attendant or call queue that has already been set up. You search for the auto attendant or call queue by the name of the resource account associated with the service.

Screenshot: call handling page Actions section

Icon of the number 1,  a callout in the previous screenshot When you select Play menu options You can select whether to use an audio file or enter text that will be rendered as text to speech to give dialpad menu options to callers. Select this instead of the Redirect call to or Disconnect options.

Icon of the number 2,  a callout in the previous screenshot Play an audio file lets you set up a prompts and options for the caller to choose.

  • If you select Play an audio file you can use the Upload file button to upload a recorded greeting message saved as audio in .WAV, .MP3, or .WMA format. The recording can be no larger than 5 MB.

  • Type a greeting message If you choose this option, enter the text you want the system to read (up to 1000 characters) in the field provided. For example, enter "Welcome to Contoso. Your call is important to us." Output is created by text-to-voice software.

Set menu options Telephone keypad or voice commands can be added or removed in this dialog. To delete a menu option, remove the voice command entry and set Redirect to back to Select.

Tip

Update menu prompt text or re-record the audio prompts when you remove options. The menu prompt played for callers isn't automatically updated.

Any menu option can be added and removed in any order, and the key mappings don't have to be continuous. It is possible, for example, to create a menu with keys 0, 1, and 3 mapped to options, while the key 2 isn't used.

Note

The keys * (Repeat) and # (Back) are reserved by the system and can't be reassigned. If speech recognition is enabled, pressing * will correspond with "Repeat" and # will correspond with the "Back" voice commands.

Icon of the number 3, a callout in the previous screenshot To set up a menu option, click on the +Assign a dial key and enter information for the following options:

Icon of the number 4, a callout in the previous screenshot Voice command column for an option can be up to 64 characters long, and can contain multiple words like "Customer Service" or "Operations and Grounds." If speech recognition is enabled, the name is automatically recognized, and the caller is able to press 3, say "three," or say "Customer Service" to select the option mapped to key 3. This text is also rendered by text to speech for the service confirmation prompt, which might be something like "Transferring your call to the Operator."

Icon of the number 5, a callout in the previous screenshot The Redirect to option sets where the call goes if the corresponding key is pressed, or the option is selected using speech recognition. The call can be sent to:

  • Operator If an operator is already set up, the option is automatically mapped to key 0, but can also be deleted or reassigned to a different key. The caller who selects this option is sent to the designated Operator. If Operator isn't set to any key, the voice command "Operator" is also disabled.

  • Person in organization can be an Online user or a user hosted on-premises using Skype for Business Server. The user must have a Phone System license that is enabled for Enterprise Voice or assigned Calling Plans in Office 365. Search for the person in the Search by name field.

    • Voice App Select an auto attendant or call queue that has already been set up. You search for the auto attendant or call queue by the name of the resource account associated with the application.

Icon of the number 6, a callout in the previous screenshot Directory search In this section, you can enable Dial by name and Dial by Extension for the auto attendant. You can set who is and is not included in these services in the optional Dial Scope page. Directory search is set to None by default.

Dial by name If you enable this option, callers can search for people in your organization using Dial by name. They say the user's name and voice recognition matches them to a user. You can set who is and is not included in these services in the optional Dial Scope page. Any online user with a Phone System license, or any user hosted on-premises using Skype for Business Server, is an eligible user and can be found with Dial by name.

This is a preview or early release feature.

Dial by extension (This preview feature is not yet available to the general public) If you enable this option, callers can connect with users in your organization by entering their phone extension. You can select which users are listed as available or not available for Dial by extension in the optional dial scope page. Any online user with a Phone System license, or any user hosted on-premises using Skype for Business Server, is an eligible user and can be found with Dial by extension.

Important

Please observe the following:

  • Users you wish to make available for Dial By Extension need to have an extension specified as part of their phone number or mobile phone number assigned in the Microsoft 365 admin center. The required format to enter the extension in the user phone number field is is either +<phonenumber>;ext=<extension> or x<extension>.
  • Assigning an extension in Teams Admin center is not currently supported. You must either use the Set-MsolUser powershell command or the Microsoft 365 admin center.
  • It can take up to 12 hours before changes to the AAD PhoneNumber and MobilePhone attributes are available.
  • Please do NOT define an extension for the LineUri of a user. This is not supported currently.
  • An auto attendant can be configured for either dial by name or dial by extension, but not both.

Note

If you want to use both the Dial by name and Dial by extension features, you can create main auto attendant (enabled for Dial by name) that prompts callers to choose a menu option if they know the extension of the user, and set that option to transfer the call to an auto attendant enabled for Dial by extension.


When you are finished with your selections, you can click Next if you want to change advanced settings, or click Submit if you want to use default settings for things like:

  • Call flow for after hours
  • Call flow for holidays
  • Dial Scope
  • Resource accounts

Since your auto attendant is required to have a resource account, you have a choice of proceeding to the Resource account page and associating a resource account you've already configured, or creating a resource account and associating it to the auto attendant as described in Manage resource accounts in Microsoft Teams. You won't be able to use this auto attendant until it has been associated to a resource account. to do this, click the Next button at the bottom of the screen and then click on Resource accounts in the left navigation to go straight to the Resource accounts page and associate your auto attendant to a resource account.

Advanced settings (optional)

There are four additional screens that you can configure or leave at defaults as you choose.

Call flow for after hours

By default, an auto attendant's business hours are set to 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday , and the call flow options for after hours calls are disabled because all hours are considered business hours. When you select the Setup custom business hours option, the Call flow for after hours page configures the call handling rules used by the auto attendant after hours. The options available are the same, the difference is the ability to set a schedule for different menus and behaviors.

A system of auto attendants may only need to set after hours call handling behavior for the first-level auto attendant. Nested auto attendants may not even be called by the first-level auto attendant, but alternately the system can define after-hours behavior for each auto attendant it uses.

Initially, the business hours are defined to start at 12:00 am and end at 12:00 pm, Sunday through Saturday. All hours that aren't during business hours are considered after hours.

screenshot of the after hours call flow settings


Icon of the number 1,  a callout in the previous screenshot You can click Select 24/7 to make all hours business hours for this auto attendant.

Icon of the number 2,  a callout in the previous screenshot Select the Reset to default option to revert all changes in the schedule and return to the default definition of business hours as 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday.

Icon of the number 3,  a callout in the previous screenshot Select Clear all hours to completely clear the schedule. Selecting this and leaving the hours unset is not recommended, so use this option only if you want to completely redo your business hours.

Icon of the number 4,  a callout in the previous screenshot Icon of the number 5,  a callout in the previous screenshot To customize start or end time for a day of the week, click on Start at or End at time you wish to reset and select the new time from the list that appears. The list allows you to select business hours in 15-minute intervals, and the business hours you select here are based on the time zone that you set on the General info page.

Icon of the number 6,  a callout in the previous screenshot To set up a break (a lunch break, for example), select Add new time for that day of the week to create anew table row, and select new start and end times. You can set multiple breaks within business hours.

The Call flow options available after hours are the same as the options available during business hours. Scroll down on the information entry page to set after hours call flow options.


When you are finished with your selections, click Next. You can also click on Resource accounts in the left navigation to go straight to the Resource accounts page and associate your auto attendant to a resource account.

Call flow during holidays

You can add up to 20 scheduled holidays to each auto attendant. Your organization may already have defined holidays as described in Set up holidays in Microsoft Teams. If not you will see the following screen:

Screenshot: no holidays configured

Icon of the number 1,  a callout in the previous screenshot To set a custom call flow for a holiday on the auto attendant, click + Add the see the New holiday call flow screen.

Tip

To create Holidays you can go to the screen at Org-wide settings > Holidays.

Screenshot: add a call handler


Icon of the number 1,  a callout in the previous screenshot Enter a Name for your new call flow.

Icon of the number 2,  a callout in the previous screenshot If you've already created holidays, you'll see them in the Holiday pull-down menu and can select them. You might see an unused option that you can edit into what you need. If not, click on Add at the bottom of the pull-down list to create a new Holiday. See Set up holidays in Microsoft Teams for the steps used to create a holiday.

A holiday call flow name can be up to 64 characters long and must be unique for the organization. For example, you can't have two holiday call flows named "Thanksgiving" in the same organization. Your auto attendant can have a call flow for each Holiday you've set up, but you might want to have a common set of behaviors planned other than a customized greeting.

Icon of the number 3,  a callout in the previous screenshot The Greetings options available for a holiday call flow are the same as the options available during business hours. The Actions performed after the greeting plays is also similar, except that the only available actions are to Disconnect or Redirect to, and when choosing the Redirect to option the Operator is not one of the available choices. You can't set up a menu specific to a Holiday flow.

Note

By default, all calls received during a holiday period are set to Disconnect after the greeting (if any), so you must specify a redirect if you want a custom behavior.

Screenshot of the call flows during holidays page

Click on Save to finish creating the Holiday call flow. Once you have created a Holiday call flow, it will show up on the Call Flows during holidays screen.

Click on Next to set Dial scope, Back to make changes to after hour call flows, and Submit if you are finished. You can also click on Resource accounts in the left navigation to go straight to the Resource accounts page and associate your auto attendant to a resource account.

Dial scope

Screenshot showing the Dial scope page

On this page, you can set who is listed in your directory and available for Dial by Name when a person calls your organization. Dial by name is set to Off by default in an earlier screen. All users with an extension will be available if Dial by extension was selected earlier.

Icon of the number 1,  a callout in the previous screenshot Include The options in this section are either All online users or Custom user groups

If you select All online users, all eligible users are included in directory search.

Custom user groups This option lets you search for and select an Office 365 Group, distribution list, or security group already created in your organization. Users are added to the directory if they are in the chosen Office 365 Group, distribution list, or security group and they are Online users with a Phone System license or hosted on-premises using Skype for Business Server. You can add multiple Office 365 Groups, distribution lists, and security groups to the directory.

On this page, you can set up which users in your organization will be listed in your directory and available for Dial by Name when a person that calls in to your organization.

Icon of the number 2,  a callout in the previous screenshot Exclude The options in this section let you exclude specific users or groups of users from the organization's directory.

If you select None, all eligible users are included in directory search.

Custom user group You can search for an Office 365 Group, distribution list, or security group that has been created in your organization. Users in that group are excluded from directory search. You can add multiple Office 365 Groups, distribution lists, and security groups.

If you leave settings at their default when Dial by Name is enabled, all eligible users are included in directory search.

Note

It might take up to 36 hours for a new user to have their name listed in the directory. When someone uses Dial by Name with speech recognition, new accounts may not be available for this feature.

After you enter all the required fields and set up call handling menus and options, click Next to proceed to associating a resource account.

Resource accounts

All auto attendants must have an associated resource account. First level auto attendants will definitely need at least one resource account that has an associated service number. If you wish, you can assign several resource accounts to an auto attendant, each with a separate service number.

If you haven't already configured a resource account to your auto attendant, you would see the following screen:

screenshot: optional resource account management

Icon of the number 1,  a callout in the previous screenshot To add one or more existing and unassigned resource accounts to the auto attendant, click Add accounts and search and select them from the provided dialogs.

screenshot of the new attendant summary view

Icon of the number 1,  a callout in the previous screenshot To add an additional resource account, click on + Add account.

Icon of the number 2,  a callout in the previous screenshot The resource account or accounts assigned to this auto attendant are shown in a list.

Edit auto attendants

After you save your new auto attendant, it is listed on the Auto attendants page. That page allows you to quickly see some of the options that you have set up, including the name, associated resource account, language, and assigned Operator.

screenshot of the attendant list

If you want to change auto attendant settings, select the auto attendant, and then in the Action pane click Edit.

Create an auto attendant with Powershell

You can also use PowerShell to create and set up auto attendants. Here are the cmdlets that you need to manage an auto attendant:

More about Windows PowerShell

Here's what you get with Phone System in Office 365

Getting service phone numbers

Country and region availability for Audio Conferencing and Calling Plans

New-CsOrganizationalAutoAttendant

What are Cloud auto attendants?

Small business example — Set up an auto attendant