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Call queue, auto attendant enhanced in Microsoft Teams calling

The latest enhancements to Microsoft Teams calling improve auto attendants and call queues, but both features still lack some key capabilities.

Microsoft launched several enhancements to auto attendants and call queues in Microsoft Teams this week, the latest advancements in the vendor's push to align the calling features of Teams and Skype for Business.

An auto attendant is a self-service menu that greets callers attempting to contact a business. Call queues automatically direct callers to an available representative or put callers on hold until the next agent is free.

Auto attendants and call queues are now compatible with a Microsoft Teams calling setup known as direct routing, which lets businesses connect third-party calling plans to Teams through a session border controller.

Businesses can now assign multiple numbers to the same auto attendant or call queue. Furthermore, businesses using Teams in a hybrid setup with on-premises Skype for Business can assign hybrid phone numbers to those systems.

Another new feature for call queues is round robin, a configuration that ensures each agent receives roughly the same number of calls from the queue.

Auto attendants have become a must-have telephony feature, especially for small businesses, said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research Group, based in Mokena, Ill. Similarly, call queues have been a widely used feature among Skype for Business users.

"Call queues can enable organizations to use Teams for simple contact center functionality without having to procure a separate service," Lazar said.

This week's enhancement of auto attendants and call queues in Teams highlights the ongoing challenge businesses face in planning a move from premises-based Skype to Teams.

Last year, the vendor announced that Microsoft Teams calling had reached parity with cloud-based Skype for Business Online. However, Teams still lacks some of the advanced calling features available in premises-based Skype server.

Microsoft has yet to bring several other crucial capabilities to auto attendants and call queues, including the ability to transfer out to the public switched telephone network. Teams also doesn't yet support extension dialing from an auto attendant.

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