Policies and Guidelines - University of Houston
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Policies and Guidelines

Voice Mail Guidelines

Must Answer Extensions

PhoneMail boxes should not be the first contact point for the main departmental telephone number during normal business hours. To improve our service image, it is recommended that initial incoming departmental calls should first be answered by an individual.

In addition, each department or entity should identify one or more extensions that are staffed at all times to serve as the referral extension for PhoneMail. It is good customer service to give callers the option to leave a message or speak to someone directly. One of the most frustrating complaints from callers is that they are trapped in "PhoneMail Jail," where each time they press 0# to speak with a person, they are routed to another PhoneMail box.

Answering the Phone and Picking up Messages

PhoneMail was installed to answer phones when the user is away or not able to answer the calls. It was not intended to function as a screening device or something to hide behind. To avoid full mailboxes, Voice messages should be retrieved frequently. Messages may be retrieved from on campus phones, as well as from remote locations.

When an Employee Leaves the University

It should be understood that PhoneMail system and its messages are intended for official business use and are owned by the University, not individual employees. When an employee leaves the University, ether temporarily or permanently, the department should take steps to ensure calls are answered, acted upon, or returned.

             Prolonged Absence/ Illness/Death of Employee
The affected extension should be forwarded to another extension. Department administrators must submit a telephone work request to Telecommunication Services to gain access to the PhoneMail box in the above situations. Every attempt to notify the employee of the need to retrieve messages should be given before requesting that the mailbox password be changed.
Separation of Employment

Upon separation, an employee should be advised they no longer have use of the PhoneMail system. Employees should be given the opportunity to clear existing messages before departure.

Telecommunications should be notified, via a telephone work order, to delete PhoneMail for terminated employees. The terminated employees extension should disconnected or be forwarded to another extension.


Each user is responsible for changing his/her greeting when out of the office for an extended period of time. In the event of an unexpected or prolonged absence, the department administrator should contact Telecommunications to request access to and change the message after all attempts to have the employee do so have been exhausted.

Two different greetings may be recorded: External (formal, for callers outside the UH Telephone System) and internal (informal, for internal callers within the UH phone system.

Greetings should be recorded for all PhoneMail boxes and should include wording that a caller can speak directly to a person by pressing "0#" during regular business hours. This extension will not be forwarded to PhoneMail during normal business hours.

If a caller reaches PhoneMail and does not want to listen to the greeting, pressing 1 will bypass the greeting; and after the beep, may leave a message.

Greetings should be:

Advise callers if you're going to be away from the office (i.e., on vacation, business travel)

Methods of using PhoneMail
  1. If not answered within 4 rings, the internal or external greeting will automatically begin. If the phone is busy, the internal or external greeting will automatically begin.
  1. Calls go to the departmental answering point, and the caller is given a choice of leaving a message with the reception area or being forwarded to the PhoneMail box to leave a message.
Forwarding of Telephones with PhoneMail

When PhoneMail users forward their telephone to another PhoneMail user's telephone, the greeting after 4 rings is that of the forwarder.

PhoneMail users may forward to a non-voice message user at any time.

Retention of Messages

* PhoneMail boxes that have not been accessed for a period of 30 days will be identified and notification sent to the division administrator for action.

Use of VOICE MENUS- Call Processing

Voice Menus are powerful tools for our customers. Considerable thought and design should be undertaken to ensure that callers receive the information they need as quickly and professionally as possible. Telecommunications will assist in the design process. Some general guidelines that will be followed are: The maximum number of choices within a menu or sub menu is four, with the last choice always being a live person.

Proper wording should include the destination first, followed by the instruction of the number to press; for example: "To order a catalog, press 1; to find out your admission status, press 2; to hear a calendar of important dates, press 3; to speak with someone directly, press 4." Since some callers may be using rotary dial telephones, and will automatically be transferred to a reception telephone, the greeting should state the following: "If you are calling from a rotary dial telephone, please stay on the line and your call will be transferred."