The company that I work for has a field office with a basic IP Office phone system that only has Embedded Voicemail. There are two support people in the office that act as operators. When the system was originally set up, the Auto Attendant would give the caller the option to press 3 to leave a message or 0 to go to the operator. When a caller pressed 3, they would go to an empty hunt group called “General Mail”, with voicemail on so that the caller could leave a message. When the caller would press 0, it would go to a hunt group called “Main” with the two office workers in it. The problem was, if no one in the Main Overflow hunt group answered the call, the caller had to leave a message. This would mean that the two office workers would have to check for voice mail in two separate voicemail boxes.
This was not an ideal situation. The consensus was that if a caller left a message after dialing 3, or 0, the voicemail should end up in the same voicemail box. After a fair amount of tinkering, I got this to work pretty well. Here’s how I did it:
1. Set up a forwarding user
Calls that go to a hunt group cannot be set up to forward to another hunt group’s voice mail. A hunt group can be set as an “overflow” hunt group but if a call ends up in the overflow group, the phone system won’t dump the caller into the overflow hunt group’s voicemail box; it will ring until the caller hangs up. However, a user can be set up to automatically forward all calls to any short code or extension.
The phone system that I was working on had several unused users with extensions already set up. I renamed one of the users “FWDGeneral Mail”.
2. Create a short code that allows the caller to leave a voicemail message in a specific voicemail box
Create a new short code. Set the code to one that is not already taken. I set mine to *23. Set the feature to “Voicemail Collect”. Set the Telephone Number to “#Ext”. Be sure to include the quotation marks and change Ext to the extension number of the hunt group that you want to direct the caller to so that they can leave a message.
3. Set the user to forward to the new short code
In the user’s settings, select the “Forwarding” tab and add a check mark next to “Forward Unconditional”, “Forward Hunt Group Calls”, and “Forward Internal Calls”. In the field next to “Forward Number”, type in the short code number that was set up in step 2.
4. Add the user to the hunt group that you want to route the call from
This is the hunt group that you want to set up so that if no one answers the call, the caller is redirected to the extension that the short code points to. Create or modify an existing hunt group. Set the ring mode to “Sequential” and add your new user to the bottom of the User List.
So now that you’ve set everything up, this is how it should work:
When the caller ends up in the Main hunt group, the phone system will route the call to each person on the list in sequence. If no one in the hunt group answers the call, the call is routed to the last user in the group (the one that was created in step 1) and is automatically forwarded to the voicemail box that was specified in the short code.
While the solution is far from elegant, it’s the best one that I could find outside of coughing up the extra money for Voicemail Pro.