BRK3036: Understanding Call Queues and Auto Attendant
Published Sep 28 2017 08:16 PM 25K Views

A good understanding of the Microsoft Phone System Cloud Services capabilities in Office 365 for incoming call routing is required to properly and quickly route callers to the correct destination, all without human intervention. These services, Auto Attendants and Call Queues, are the main interfaces for the callers to reach people and departments in your organization over the phone.


Key Microsoft Phone System Cloud Services concept for this session are:

  • Call Queues: Provides automatic call distribution that allows organizations to handle calls at scale and distribute incoming calls based on customized rules.
  • Auto Attendant: Provides automated call answering and route calls using numeric keypad entries and voice recognition, offering features like Directory Search and multi-level menu options.

Marina Kolomiets and Irena Andonova walked you through design, provisioning, licensing requirements, and use Call Queues and Auto Attendant concept across online and hybrid topologies.




Marina started the presentation with an important news - the support of the hybrid tenant configurations coming soon. It’s a great news, as presently a lot of environments are hybrid, with many voice features kept on premises. This announcement will enable such  organizations to also benefit by using these online features, and also remove the dependency on Exchange for Auto Attendants.





It’s possible to enable Online Users for Call Queues and Auto Attendants (Queue Agents, Operators) in two different ways:

  • Using calling plan licenses that are available presently in only few countries;
  • Enable users to be eligible for azure Phone System voice services at no extra cost by enabling them for Enterprise Voice with PowerShell cmdlet Set-CsUser -identity "User Name" -EnterpriseVoiceEnabled $true;

Note that a user without calling plan license assigned cannot have a PSTN Number and cannot place calls to external PSTN.


Marina introduced the concept of protecting the identity of users by customizing the Caller ID for outbound Calls. Available since July, it’s possible to mask or change the callback number by granting a user a certain Caller ID policy:


New-CsCallingLineIdentity -Identity "UKSalesQueue" -CallingIdSubstitute "Service"

-ServiceNumber 14258828080 -EnableUserOverride $False Verbose


Grant-CsCallingLineIdentity -PolicyName UKSalesQueue -Identity User Name


Call Queues


Call Queues are part of  Azure cloud Voice services available in Phone System, giving organizations the ability to handle calls at scale and be sure that all call is answered.


Even though right now each Call Queue is required to have a tolled or toll-free service number assigned to it, Marina announced that soon, a service number will be an optional parameter and Call Queue would be able to receive VOiP calls on their SIP-addresses.


Marina introduced Greeting, Music-on Hold, Queue size and maximum allowed call wait time parameters, routing for Agents (Attendant), and the ability for over-capacity and calls that timed-out waiting be handled in several ways. A lot of features are available in Call Queues to create customized experience to the callers.


Each Call Queue service number can handle up to 200 concurrent calls, and a single tenant can have multiple Queues.




Next, Marina talked about the Call Queue Agent capabilities. Agent can be added  using distribution list or security groups, with support for Office 365 groups upcoming. Agent list can have 50 Agents maximal, and an Agent can be a member of multiple Queues and take calls on Desktop Client, Mac, Mobile (iPhone, iPad and Android) or IP Phones.


All IP Phone certified for Skype for Business Online are compatible with Call Queues and can be used by Agents.


Marina and Irena finished this part of the presentation with a live demonstration of how Call Queue calls can be received on Mobile Clients.


Auto Attendant


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.


Marina introduced through the possible multi-level IVR configuration created using Office 365 Auto Attendant and showed us how to use this service to create a customized menu system that lets external and internal callers move through the options using Speech Recognition or keypad entry (DTMF) to reach a specific user or service in an organization.


blog 1.png


Office 365 Auto Attendants give the capabilities to upload pre-recorded customized voice prompts or use text-to-speech to create them, have different route calls based on business hours or perform directory search to locate users by using a phone keypad (DTMF) or voice inputs using speech recognition.


All the configuration can be done with the O365 portal and with PowerShell.


You can have 80,000 users in Directory search scope for Speech Recognition. Interesting that you can exclude specific users from the directory search which will be hidden from dial by name using Exclusion List.


blog 2.png


Integration with Teams


Irena announced the upcoming Teams support for any calls placed to Auto Attendant or Call Queues, with was followed by a demonstration of a user receiving a call routed through Office 365 Auto Attendant on the Teams client.


Upcoming features


  • On premise environnement support

Customers using on premises deployments will be also able to use Microsoft Phone System Cloud Queues and Auto Attendants.


blog 3.png



  • Discoverability in Contacts and optional service numbers

Call Queue and Auto Attendants will be discoverable for all users in Contacts, and users will be able to add them to their Contact Lists. They can also call or transfer calls to Call Queues and Auto Attendants using their Contact List in Skype for Business client.

This discoverability in Contacts will be also available for on premise environments, for users homed on premises:


blog 4.png


  • Agents Opt In And Out with Call Queues

Admins will be able to grant Call Queue Agents an ability to Opt in and out of taking Call Queue calls at will. Agents will be able to see what Call Queues they have been added to, and Opt out of taking calls from certain Call Queues.


blog 5.png


  • Serial routing method with call queues

A new, Serial routing method will be available and will offer a new call to the Agents one by one, as determined by the order defined by the Admin.


blog 6.png


  • Holidays in Auto Attendants

It will be possible to define Holidays in Auto Attendants using the portal or PowerShell. Up to 10 date ranges can be defined for each Holiday, and Amins can choose to start and end a Holiday at a certain hour of the day.


blog 7.png


  • Speech Recognition and Text To Speech

Turkish and Catalan language support is upcoming in Auto Attendants.

as part of the conitnous effot for improve voice recognition and text to speech in Phone System, high quality voices will be rolled out for French, Spanish and German.


blog 8.png


  • New UI for Auto Attendants and Call Queues

blog 3.png



Marina and Irena covered many topics, giving an insight into the sheer amount of services and development that goes into delivering the best user experience during incoming call.


You can learn more about Call Queues and Auto Attendant here:

Auto Attendant:

Call Queues:


The recorded session will be available here within 2 days :


More about Marina and Irena:

I’m really glad I attended this session. If you like to reach out to me, many way to find me:



Blog (french):


Version history
Last update:
‎Sep 28 2017 08:16 PM
Updated by: