Customers around the world are replacing their traditional phone systems with our modern voice solution delivered in Office 365 with Skype for Business Online. Skype for Business Online provides end-users the ability to make and receive business calls in the office, at home and on the road using their phone, PC, or mobile device. As part of Office 365, we are able to innovate rapidly to deliver new capabilities to customers without the need to build out new servers or install software updates.
This week at Enterprise Connect, we announced exciting new capabilities that are now available for our cloud voice customers. Generally grouped under the category of “media services”, these new features operate completely out of Office 365 and provide new experiences for the management of phone calls, from answering to call treatment to queueing to routing. What it means is that Office 365 customers everywhere now have an option for a truly powerful set of communications capabilities all driven out of the cloud.
Auto Attendant provides an automated system to answer inbound phone calls to a company, play prompts to interact with the caller and determine the destination of the call. Prompts can be made from uploaded pre-recorded material or using text-to-speech in 27 languages while replies from callers can be captured using DTMF (touchtone) or speech recognition in 14 languages. Callers can speak the name of an end-user in the tenant directory to be routed directly to that person or they can be presented with a customized menu to support routing to different departments.
Call Queues implement an automated distribution system for calls that includes playing licensed music on hold for the caller and matching the caller with an available agent. Custom music on hold and custom prompts can also be uploaded to Office 365 for use with a customer’s Call Queue. Agents can be quickly configured for handing calls from a queue by using a simple distribution list, with calls routed in parallel to all agents who are signed in and configured to handle calls from the queue.
Both Auto Attendants and Call Queues are managed from Office 365 and allow customers to have powerful call management functionality homed completely out of the cloud. To support this capability, customers can acquire both toll and toll-free phone numbers from over 90 countries around the world, all without additional subscription cost. The system administrator then simply associates the numbers to the Auto Attendants and Call Queues directly from the Office 365 Admin Center or automates the process through PowerShell scripting.
One of our first partners to take advantage of this new functionality with Skype for Business Online is Enghouse Interactive with their new attendant console. Utilizing the Skype for Business Client SDK, Auto Attendant, and Call Queues, their TouchPoint Attendant solution natively integrates into Microsoft’s Skype for Business Online and Office 365.
With these new capabilities, now is the time to upgrade your legacy phone systems and/or to start with new users in the cloud. If you aren’t using our cloud voice solution, you can upgrade your existing Office 365 subscriptions to Office 365 Enterprise E5, add Cloud PBX to any other Office 365 Enterprise plan, or you can get your own tenant with Cloud PBX at http://aka.ms/e5trial.
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