Understanding Call Answering Rules


Applies to: Exchange Server 2010 SP3, Exchange Server 2010 SP2

Call Answering Rules is a new feature in Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. Using this feature, end users can dictate how their incoming call answering calls should be handled. Call answering rules are applied to incoming calls similar to the way Inbox rules are applied to incoming e-mail messages.

Call answering rules are stored in the mailboxes of users who are enabled for Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging. Nine call answering rules can be set up for each mailbox. These rules are independent of the Inbox rules that are set up by users and don't consume a part of the Inbox rules quota for the user. By default, no call answering rules are configured. If an incoming call is answered by a Unified Messaging (UM) server, the caller can be prompted to leave a voice message or if the caller doesn't prompt the system, the caller will also be able to leave a voice message for the called party.

Anatomy of Call Answering Rules

A call answering rule consists of two parts: conditions and actions. You can associate one or more conditions with a single call answering rule. The call answering rule will only be processed if all the conditions for the rule are met. You can also associate one or more actions with a single call answering rule. These actions determine what options will be offered to the caller when the call answering rule is processed.

Call Answering Rules support the following conditions:

  • Who the incoming call is from

  • The time of day

  • Calendar free/busy status

  • Whether automatic replies are turned on for e-mail

The following actions are supported:

  • Find me

  • Transfer the caller to someone else.

  • Leave a voice message


If a user records a custom greeting for a call answering rule, they must include the menu option as part of the custom greeting when they configure the call answering rule. If they don't, the Unified Messaging server won't generate a menu prompt that lets the caller know what his or her choices are. After UM plays the custom greeting, the server will wait for the caller's input. If the menu option isn't included in the greeting, the caller won't input anything and the server will prompt them, asking "Are you still there?"

For more information on the conditions and actions, see Call Answering Rules for the End User.

Selecting a call answering rule for each incoming call

As shown in the following diagram, when an incoming call is received for a UM-enabled user, UM will:

  1. Determine whether the user has created any call answering rules. If not, UM will offer the caller the option of leaving a voice message.

  2. If one or more call answering rules have been configured, UM will evaluate each of these rules. The first rule whose conditions are met will be processed.

  3. After evaluating all the rules, if UM doesn't find a rule whose conditions are met, UM will ask the caller to leave a voice message.


Dialing Rules

Depending on how a call answering rule is configured, an incoming call may result in a call transfer. When this happens, the transfer target phone number will be subject to the dialing rules and restrictions on the UM mailbox policy that the called party is associated with. For more information about outdialing and dialing rules and restrictions, see the following topics:

Enabling/Disabling Call Answering Rules

By default, call answering rules are automatically enabled for UM-enabled users. However, you can disable call answering rules for users by disabling the feature on a UM dial plan, a UM mailbox policy, or the user's mailbox. For details about how to enable or disable call answering rules, see the following topics:

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