Teams Auto Attendants and Call Queues have the ability to deliver voicemails to Microsoft 365 group mailboxes. Call Queues will also allow you to forward calls directly to a user’s voicemail box. Let’s talk through each option and discuss why you would or wouldn’t want to use each.
First, Call Queue transfers to a user’s personal voicemail box. I rarely see this used. This works when there is a low volume of voicemail, or if you want callers to be able to reach the user’s voicemail but not to actually ring the user – perhaps a municipality? The best case for this is in a boss-admin delegation scenarios, where if the admins in the call queue don’t answer the call, it should go to the boss’s voicemailbox.
The difficulty I see with this option otherwise is that a user’s personal mailbox leaves little option for delegation or access should that user be out for vacation, sickness, or whatever other reason. Usually, if a call hits a Call Queue or Auto Attendant it’s a team, office, or organizational number that was called and so sending voicemails to the mailbox of just one user doesn’t fit this scenario.
Microsoft 365 groups are what I typically see, even if a personal mailbox might make sense in some circumstances. Keeping everything the same makes support easier. Note that Microsoft 365 group mailboxes are not the same thing as Exchange shared mailboxes. Call Queues and Auto Attendants cannot deliver to Exchange shared mailboxes. From the perspective of Teams, you can safely assume that Exchange shared mailboxes have been replaced with M365 group mailboxes.
When an M365 group is created (or modified), there are a few settings that I like to review with customers, as they can have impact ranging from “annoying” to “holy cow what just happened”. They are:
Here, you’ll want to choose Microsoft 365 group. That’s your only option for Auto Attendant and Call Queue voicemail.
Give the group a meaningful name, and expand upon it in the description as you see fit.
You can add group owners on this tab. Be careful here, group owners can modify group membership from Outlook. Make sure that anyone who is made a group owner knows about this.
Add the members of the group here. Owners are also automatically considered members, you don’t need to add them again. Members (and owners) will have access to the group mailbox.
Here you get to select the group email address. If this is a group solely for voicemail for an Auto Attendant or Call Queue, consider using the same naming scheme here as the Resource Account for the AA or CQ, and add “-vm” to the end of it.
You’ll likely want to select “Private” for the privacy type, otherwise anyone in your organization can add themselves to the group, and thus get access to the voicemails.
And lastly, you don’t need to create a Team for the group. If you want to create a team for the group members – this makes sense for IT Helpdesk, for example – I’d suggest creating the team via Teams so you can get that configuration setup properly. Then you can use the group email address for voicemails, without this group creation process. Otherwise, clear this checkbox so that a team is not created.
And you’re done. The Finish step gives you an option to review and correct anything.
A couple of notes here. If you create the group via PowerShell, you will be automatically added as an owner. Be sure to assign owners and remove yourself.
For the email address, note above that I’ve used my torren.ca domain. If I look at this group in Microsoft 365 admin center, I see that the @torren.ca is actually an alias, and the onmicrosoft.com domain is the actual email address. That’s not an issue for voicemail usage. In fact, if you’re in a hybrid environment and you select a vanity domain (like @torren.ca) and your autodiscover DNS points to your on-prem environment, the desktop Outlook client won’t be able to find the mailbox. Outlook web will, however. If you then change the primary address of the group to be the onmicrosoft.com, Outlook will be able to find the group, since onmicrosoft.com is online-only.
And finally, if you now edit the group in M365 Admin Center you’ll find some more settings to configure:
You can see an option to have the voicemail/email for the group delivered to the members’ inboxes as well as to the group mailbox. If the messages are copied to the users’ inboxes, then each inbox has its own “read”/”replied” status within that inbox. This is fine if you need everyone to consume the message. If someone needs to respond to the message or take some action, you will need to either a) implement some way of communicating who has/will deal with a message, or b) don’t copy the messages to users’ inboxes, and use the status in the group mailbox to track if someone has read or responded.
There’s also the “Don’t show team email address in Outlook” which you might want to set for voicemail-only groups, and “Let people outside the organization email this team” which you likely don’t want set for a voicemail-only group, and may or may not want set if you also use the group for email.
Where The Folder Lives
If you don’t copy the message to the users’ inboxes, then you should have them browse to the group mailbox in the Groups folder at the bottom of the Outlook folder list. In that list, Groups are tucked away down at the bottom. You can have users right click on the folder to add it to their favorites. This will help ensure that the group mailbox isn’t hidden out of sight, out of mind from the members.