This chapter covers the following topics:
The chapters thus far in Part II, "Feature Operation and Applications," have discussed how to use the Cisco CallManager Express (CME) call processing and IP phone features and operation. Cisco CME provides Cisco IOS router-based call management and control to the IP phones and public switched telephone network (PSTN) trunks defined on the system. An IP telephony package for a small or medium office or enterprise branch office is, for most installations, incomplete without automated attendant (AA) and voice mail functions, even though not everybody needs these features.
An AA is a voice system feature that automatically answers your business's incoming calls with a welcome greeting (for example, "Thank you for calling company x."). It also provides a menu of choices for the caller to select from. The caller presses the appropriate button on the phone. The AA system then interprets the dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF) tones and redirects the call to the chosen destination based on the menu selection.
This chapter discusses the Cisco IP Communications (IPC) Express options for AA functionality, including an integrated AA application and a Toolkit Command Language (TCL)-based AA. The integrated AA option is a Cisco CME application, Cisco Unity Express (Cisco UE), which includes both an AA and a voice mail component. The AA component is covered in this chapter, and the voice mail portion of the application is discussed in Chapter 10, "Cisco IPC Express Integrated Voice Mail."
The Cisco UE AA is a full-featured, customizable AA application offering an easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) drag-and-drop interface to change the system's AA menu flow. Cisco UE is cost-effective for small and medium standalone or networked offices, or as a distributed AA (and voice mail system) in branch offices of an enterprise network. Cisco UE offers up to five distinct AAs, each associated with an individual pilot number and one or more scripts that can be fully customized.
The second alternative is a TCL-based AA that leverages Cisco IOS built-in TCL capability. Although it can be customized by someone proficient in the TCL language, it is not typically an end-user interface. Instead, it is a tool used by Cisco and Cisco developers to provide ready-made scripts for your system.
Although choosing and understanding an AA for your system is important, it is also important that you understand how a receptionist and an AA can work together to provide the best services for customers calling your business. This is the first topic in this chapter, followed by in-depth discussions of the two AA technology alternatives.
Using an Automated Attendant or a Receptionist in Your Office