In the current article, we review how to implement a configuration of Automatic Reply by using Exchange mailbox rule.
The mailbox rule engine is part of any Exchange mailbox. In our specific scenario, we will use a Shared mailbox that will serve a “service mailbox” for our Help Desk team.
Article table of content | Click to expand
Article Series table of content | Click to expand
- Automatic replies (Out of office assistant) versus Automatic reply using mailbox rule – Exchange Online |Part 1#7
- Configuring Automatic Replies (Out of office) using Outlook, OWA, and PowerShell |Part 2#7
- Setting up an Automatic Reply in Office 365 using Public Folder | Part 3#7
- Setting up an Automatic Reply in Office 365 using Public Folder | Part 4#7
- Setting up an Automatic Reply in Office 365 using mailbox rule and Shared mailbox | Part 5#7
- Setting up an Automatic Reply in Office 365 using mailbox rule and Shared mailbox | Part 6#7
- Automatic Reply in Office 365 -Dealing with mail loop (mail storm) scenarios |Part 7#7
The Help Desk team, need to have a “department mailbox,” which will be shared between the Help Desk team members.
The Help Desk shared mailbox will be configured to automatically reply with a predefined E-mail template to the organization users’ requests.
Each time that organization user needs to open a ticket for help \ service request, the user will address the Helpdesk team by sending E-mail to the “Help Desk” mailbox.
When the E-mail reaches the “Help Desk shared mailbox,” the shared mailbox, will respond
with a predefined E-mail template (Automatic Reply), notify the organization user that his request was accepted and that soon he will be contacted by the Help Desk.
Why use a shared mailbox and why using Automatic Reply mailbox rule?
1 . The need for sharing information
The Help Desk mailbox is not a “user mailbox” but instead, a mailbox that will be shared between couples of “owners” (the Help Desk members).
2. Saving the costs of acquiring licenses
In the Office 365 environment, we can create and use Exchange Online shared mailbox without the need for purchasing a license.
3. The reason for using mailbox rule
In our scenario, we need to implement the Automatic Reply by using mailbox rule and not by using “Automatic Replies” (Out of office assistant).
The reason for using mailbox rule is because, in our scenario a specific user can open many service request tickets, and we want to send to automatic E-mail reply, for each or the service request.
In case that we would use the option of using “Automatic Replies” (Out of office assistant),
the E-mail response will be sent to each sender only one time.
Implementing the Shared mailbox solution of Automatic Reply using mailbox rule | The task list
To be able to implement the required business need, we will need to complete the following tasks:
- Create the required automatic respond template design
In our example, we will use the following automatic respond template:
|Dear organization user,|
Thank you for contacting o365info Support!
Your request has been submitted, and a Technical Support Engineer will be contacting you shortly.
While you’re waiting, check out the o365info Help Center!
Thank you for contacting us, and we look forward to helping you.
2. Create (or use existing) shared mailbox
In our example, we will create a new Shared mailbox using the Exchange Online admin interface.
3. Configure a shared mailbox “owner” (Full Access permissions).
The process of creating an Automatic Reply mailbox rule is implemented via the Outlook client.
To be able to create a new Outlook mail profile, we will need to use a little trick, in which we provide the identity of the Shared mailbox (the E-mail address of the Shared mailbox) but instead of providing the credentials of the Shred mailbox, we will provide the credentials of “other” Office 365 users who have Full Access permissions on the Help Desk shared mailbox.
4. Create a new Outlook mail profile that will be used to login into the shared mailbox.
The tasks of creating an Automatic Reply mailbox rule (described as – have server reply using a specific message) can be implemented only when using an Outlook mailbox rule wizard (the OWA mail client mailbox rule wizard includes fewer options).
5. Creating the required automatic reply mailbox rule
Implement the required steps for creating the Automatic Reply mailbox rule.
6. Testing the automatic reply mailbox rule
In this step, we verify that the Automatic Reply mailbox rule operating properly – respond by sending the predefined E-mail template, etc.
7. Optional – create a security group and assign the required permissions to the security group on the Shared mailbox.
I described this step as optional because, in reality, it’s not a mandatory step that we need to complete. Instead, this is recommended steps or best practice step.
Setting up an Automatic Reply in Office 365 using shared mailbox | The scenario
We need to create a special “service mailbox” for the Help Desk department.
The Shared mailbox will serve the following purposes:
- Serve as a container for the organization users’ service requests tickets
- The shared mailbox will implement the procedure of automatic respond, for each user that sends a service request.
- The Shared mailbox will be used for scheduling a meeting with organization users, save contacts information, and so on.
The Helpdesk team will use the Shared mailbox as an “additional mailbox.”
Each of the Helpdesk team members will have Full Access permissions to the Shared mailbox.
Each of the Helpdesk team members will have Send As permissions to the Shared mailbox.
The Help Desk shared mailbox automatic response will be implemented by using the following temple:
The Helpdesk Shared mailbox details
- The display name whom we want to use for the Help Desk shared mailbox is-
Help Desk Support tickets
- The E-mail of the Help Desk shared mailbox will be – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Helpdesk Shared mailbox owner
In our example, Bob (The Helpdesk manager) will be assigned with Full Access to the Help Desk shared mailbox
Exchange Online versus Exchange on-Premises
The demonstrating that includes step by step’s description and screenshot, is implemented in Exchange Online (Office 365 based environment).
It is important to mention that – most of the “actions” and the “interfaces” are identical to Exchange on-Premises implementation.
Step 1#8 – Creating a new Shared mailbox
In this section, we review the process of
- Creating a new Shared mailbox using the Exchange Online interface.
- Assign the required management permissions to the Help Desk ticket shared mailbox.” We will assign Bob (Bob is the IT manager) the required management permissions, so he will be able to create the required Automatic Reply mailbox rule. In the next article, we will review the way that we assign permissions to the Help Desk group members.
- Log in to the Exchange Online admin center
- On the left side menu, select the recipients menu
- On the top bar menu, select the shared menu
- In the*Display name box, type the name of the Shared mailbox. In our example, the display name is – Help desk support tickets
- In the *Email address box, type the alias name of the Shared mailbox (email@example.com in our example).
- Select the plus icon for adding user with the required permissions. In Exchange Online environment, the shared mailbox wizard will automatically assign Full Access permissions + Send As permissions to the users that we select from the list. In our example, Bob will have Full Access permissions to the Help Desk shared mailbox.
- Select the required recipient name (In our example, Bob will have Full Access permissions to the Help Desk shared mailbox).
- Click on the add -> button
- Click OK
- Click Save
In the following screenshot, we can see that a new Shared mailbox was successfully created.
In the following screenshot, we can see the permissions that was automatically assigned to the “recipient” that was configure when the Shared mailbox was created (in our scenario – Bob)
Step 2#8 – Creating a new Outlook mail profile for the Shared Mailbox
The Automatic Reply process is implemented by creating a mailbox rule.
To be able to create the required mailbox rule, we will need to use the Outlook mail client.
Sound simple but, there is a “catch” in our scenario.
The shared mailbox is not “attached” to a standard Office 365 user account, and doesn’t have a “standard user password”.
The shared mailbox is a special mailbox that doesn’t have a license, and the password is generated automatically by the Exchange Online.
The problem that we are facing is – how can we create the required Outlook profile for the shared mailbox that will enable us to create the Automatic Reply mailbox rule?
The solution to this problem is implemented by using a little trick.
We will start to process of creating a new Outlook mail profile and provide the E-mail address of the “Help desk Shared mailbox.” We will not provide any user credentials in this phase!
In the next phase, Outlook will try to complete the Autodiscover process, and we will need to provide the required user credentials.
In this step, we will need to provide credentials of Office 365 users who have Full access permissions to the “Help desk Shared mailbox.”
In our scenario, we will use the user credentials of Bob (Bob is a member of the Help Desk security group, and he has Full Access permission to the shared mailbox).
General information – using OWA for “log in” to the shared mailbox
Technically speaking, we can use the option of OWA (the Webmail interface) for “log in” to the Shared mailbox for the purpose of creating a mailbox rule.
The “problem” is that the OWA mailbox rule wizard interface doesn’t include all the options that exist when we use the Outlook mail client.
In our scenario, we need to set mailbox rule that will trigger an Automatic Reply. This option doesn’t include when using the OWA mail client.
Creating a new Outlook mail profile for the HelpDesk shared mailbox
- Go to the control panel and choose the Mail icon
- Select the option – Show Profiles…
- Click on the Add… button
In the Profile name: box, provide a name for the Outlook profile that will be created for the Help Desk shared mailbox. In our example, the name is – Help desk support tickets
- In the Your name box – write the name of the recipient. In our example, the name is – Help desk support tickets
- In the Email address: box – write the E-mail of the Help desk shared mailbox. In our example, the E-mail address is – firstname.lastname@example.org
Notice an important detail – we will not provide the password of the “Shared mailbox” recipient and if we want to be more accurate, we don’t know what is the password of the Shared mailbox user account.
We will leave the “password box” empty.
In the next phase, we will provide the credentials of an Office 365 user who have Full Access permissions to the Help Desk shared mailbox.
- We will not provide a password (because we cannot use and doesn’t know what the shared mailbox user account password is).
The outlook starts to use the Autodiscover process for locating the required Exchange server who hosts the – Help Desk shared mailbox
A prompt window for user credentials appears.
Outlook “assume” that the credentials we need to provide are the credentials of the Help Desk shared mailbox (email@example.com).
Instead of using the Shared mailbox system user credentials, the credentials that we will provide are – “Bob credentials.”
A quick reminder- in the former step, we assign Bob the Full Access permissions to the Help Desk shared mailbox.
- In the next screenshot, we can see that the process of creating the new shared mailbox outlook mail profile was completed successfully.
- Click – Finish
In case that the desktop that you use include a couple of Outlook mail profiles, select the option – Prompt for a profile to be used.
The reason for selecting this option is, that because we want to log in, the Outlook mail profile of the Help Desk shared mailbox for creating the required auto response mailbox rule.
Step 3#8 – Login to the shared mailbox using Outlook and configuring Automatic reply mailbox rules
In this step, we will create the required Automatic reply mailbox rule.
A quick reminder – we want to create a mailbox rule, that will provide us the following requirement- each time that an organization’s user will send a service request to the Help Desk shared mailbox, the Shared mailbox will generate an Automatic Reply answer.
- Open Outlook and choose the shared mailbox mail profile. In our example, the mail profile is – Help Desk Support tickets.
In the following screenshot, we can see that we “login”, to the Help Desk Shared mailbox (firstname.lastname@example.org in our scenario).
- Select the Rules menu and Manage Rules & Alerts…
- Click on the New Rule… and choose: Apply rule on message I receive
- Select the option – Apply rule on message I receive
In this step, we define the “mailbox rule condition”. In the “program language,” this is the part of “IF” (If a specific condition is fulfilled).
- Select the option box – sent only to me
- Click – Next
Choose the option box: sent only to me
- Select the option box – have server reply using a specific message
This is the second part of the mailbox rule which can be described as the “What part”(the former mailbox rule deals with the “IF”).
- At the bottom of the rule window, click on the link – a specific message
As a result, a “New mail” will appear. This is a mail template that will ‘contain” the Automatic reply content.
In our example, I use a predefined text that I have prepared that include a signature, company logo, etc.
All we need to do is just – paste the “content” in the “New mail template,” and to save the template.
- Add the required text, image to the E-mail template
- Select – Save& Close
In the following screenshot, we can see that the update was saved.
In other words, the Exchange mailbox rule “know” what E-mail template to use.
- Click Next
- Provide the require mailbox rule name
- Click – Finish
In the following screenshot, we can see that a “new rule” was created
- Click – OK
Step 4#8 – Testing the Shared Mailbox Automatic Reply mailbox rule
In this step, we would like to verify that the Automatic Reply shared mailbox rule is operating properly.
To be able to test the Automatic Reply shared mailbox rule, we will send E-mail to the E-mail address of the Help Desk shared mailbox, and see if we get the required automatic respond using the E-mail template that was configured in the former steps.
To be able to simulate standard user communication, we will use the Angelina mail account.
- Open the Outlook and create a new E-mail.
- We will send the E-mail to the Help Desk shared mailbox. In our example, the E-mail address is – email@example.com.
In the following screenshot, we can see that the Automatic Reply shared mailbox rule was successfully “activated”.
The Help Desk shared mailbox respond with the E-mail template that was configured.
The next article in the current article series
It is important for us to know your opinion on this article