Implementing a Boss / Secretary Call Screening

I had a situation where a boss wanted all calls to be screened by the secretary. However if the secretary was away/busy or unable to answer the call it would go to the boss’s voicemail. I didn’t find anything here except for an outdated Boss/Secretary module.

After some playing around, I came up with a solution. Here is the scenario:

101 - Secretary’s Extension
102 - Boss’s Extension

The Boss’s extension may or may not be already “published” or otherwise known to the rest of the company or outside callers. That’s ok. To get around that, reassign Boss’s extension, 102, to a Ring Group. Then assign Boss’s phone a new extension, say 103. Now you have the following:

101 - Secretary’s Extension
102 - Boss’s Ring Group
103 - Boss’s New Extension

The Boss’s Ring Group is configured with just one phone to ring, that being the Secretary’s extension, 101. The “Destination if no answer” is set to the Boss’s voicemail.

So the Boss’s Ring Group number is still known as the “published” number. Calls made to that extension will now go to the secretary who can then decide how to handle the call. However, if the secretary cannot answer the call, it goes to the Boss’s voicemail. Now either the Secretary or the Boss can check the voicemail and deal with the call appropriately. Either way, the caller feels like he was able to get his message through.

Boss also has the option to give out his real extension to selected individuals.

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Over-arching thing first: If you are going to start your extension numbers with ‘1’ you’ll need to adjust several functions in the system to not use “*1”. I would move your extensions to the 300, 500, or 600 range to make life simpler later on.

Now, on to your problem. This request comes up several times a year, and I don’t think any three people have solved it the same way.

One of the first 'hurdles" is setting up the “secret” manager’s phone. There’s this article: Hooking for fun and income which may lead you to some interesting ideas.

After that, there are lots of recipes for success on this subject. One of them is to set up a queue with the secretary and the boss as static member, but set the ring-strategy such that the secretary’s phone is always the preferred one. This actually has a couple of interesting side benefits, including not having to do anything if she’s away from her desk and (if she’s already on a call) the boss can answer directly.

Of course, there are a hundred ways to skin this cat, and the forum is full of examples and discussions. If this one doesn’t strike your fancy, perhaps one of those other will.

I strongly disagree. IMO, it’s important to design your system so there are no numbering plan conflicts. Changing the feature codes is the lesser of the evils.

Assuming that the OP’s system has no more than 20 extensions, 100-119 is an ideal range. The device can be set up so that when you dial 101, the call is sent immediately. OTOH, if the extension is 301, the device needs to wait to see whether you are actually calling Maryland. If the delay is short e.g. 2 seconds, then if you pause after 301 to look up the rest of the number, the call will fail. But if the timeout is a generous 5 seconds, that’s really annoying delay on every internal call.

If you still want to avoid extensions beginning with 1, another option is 290-299, 390-399, 490-499, etc.

However, I completely agree with the rest of @cynjut 's post.

The extensions mentioned were purely for example. Obviously, the extensions one uses should fit the scheme.

Assigning extensions is a standard task. I’m not sure what you mean by it being a “hurdle”. Take the manager’s phone and assign it a new extension. Delete old extension then recreate it as a ring group. I tried to keep it simple.

The queue is nice solution except for those calls that ring through (while the secretary is away or on another call) do not get screened, which was the intent.

I would be curious to see some of the other ways to implement this. For a forum to be “…full of examples …”, my search criteria, apparently, did not find them. I would appreciate any links to other solutions. I’m always ready to learn another creative technique.

You will also need to set the boss’ phone to send out 102 as the internal callerid.

Otherwise anyone he calls on an extension will see the real number.

Jared - Excellent point !

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