Main Numbers – answered by technology or people

There are two main types of organizations that I come across when it comes to handling a main line. The first are those who strongly prefer a human to answer the calls, and the second are those that would rather have automation handle the call, with humans jumping in only when needed.

Either of these scenarios are easily achieved with Teams. For the first, I create a call queue and assign the main number to it. I have the receptionist(s) added as agents in the queue. I then setup an auto attendant, and user this as a destination for overflow and timeout actions from the queue. I include an option to press 0 to get back to the receptionist queue, in case the caller prefers that versus the options presented in the auto attendant. One of these options can be to leave a voicemail.

For the second scenario, implement the same auto attendant and call queue, but I assign the main number to the auto attendant.

A third scenario that I come across is usually only found in small offices or organizations. Here, the main number for the office is assigned to the receptionist as their personal number. I don’t like this for many reasons, including:

  • The receptionist can’t tell if the call is for them or the main number, and must always answer as if it’s an outside call to the organization.
  • Anyone who covers for the receptionist (too many calls, on a break, sick days, holidays) gets access to the receptionists phone and voicemail – and if this is Teams, everything else too.
  • It doesn’t scale if the organization grows
  • It can’t take advantage of ANY of the features of Teams (auto attendants, call queues, bots…) Sure, bots may be a stretch for a small org or office, but AA and CQ are not.

And so in this scenario, I assign a new number to the user and configure one of the other scenarios for the organization.