Interactive voice response (IVR) systems let incoming callers access information and find contacts via a menu of prerecorded messages, without having to speak to an agent, and let you automate polling via outgoing calls. Callers and call recipients can respond to prompts via Touch-Tone keypad presses or speech recognition. IVR systems can handle larger call volumes than operators and reduce costs associated with customer service.
Common IVR use cases include:
This guide shows how to build an IVR menu system on the Plivo platform, either by using our PHLO visual workflow builder or our APIs and XML documents. Follow the instructions in one of the tabs below.
You can create and deploy a workflow to implement an IVR system with a few clicks on the PHLO canvas.
To get started, you need a Plivo account — sign up with your work email address if you don’t have one already. To receive incoming calls, you must have a voice-enabled Plivo phone number. You can rent numbers from the Numbers page of the Plivo console, or by using the Numbers API.
To create a PHLO, visit the PHLO page of the Plivo console. If this is your first PHLO, the PHLO page will be empty.
Click the Start node to open the Configuration tab, then enter information that other nodes can retrieve in the API Request section — in this case, the From and optionally To numbers for the IVR system.
From the list of components on the left side, drag and drop the IVR Menu component onto the canvas. When a component is placed on the canvas it becomes a node.
Draw a line to connect the Start node‘s Incoming Call trigger state to the IVR Menu node.
In the Configuration tab at the right of the canvas, configure the choices for the IVR menu. For this example, select 1 and 2 as allowed choices. Enter a message to play to the user in the Speak Text box.
Drag and drop two instances of the Call Forward component onto the canvas. Rename them Connect_to_Support and Connect_to_Sales. Draw lines to connect the IVR Menu node‘s 1 and 2 trigger states to the new nodes.
Configure each Call Forward node to select the From number using a variable. PHLO will get the number from the key/value pairs set in the Start node. Enter two curly brackets to view all available variables, and choose the appropriate one. For the To number, either enter a fixed number directly into the To field, or use a variable that you configured in the Start node.
Drag and drop two instances of the Play Audio component onto the canvas. Rename the two nodes No_Input_Prompt and Invalid_Input_Prompt and configure each to speak a fixed message for callers to hear when they enter no input or invalid input. Draw lines from the IVR Menu node‘s No Input and Wrong Input trigger states to the respective nodes, then draw lines from the Prompt Completed trigger states of the new nodes back to the IVR Menu node, to give callers another chance to enter a menu choice.
Your complete PHLO should look like this.
Once you‘ve created and configured your PHLO, assign it to a Plivo number.
You can now call your Plivo phone number and see how the IVR system works.
For more information about creating a PHLO application, see the PHLO Getting Started guide. For information on components and their variables, see the PHLO Components Library.
Here‘s how to implement an IVR system using XML.
To get started, you need a Plivo account — sign up with your work email address if you don’t have one already. You must have a voice-enabled Plivo phone number to receive incoming calls; you can rent numbers from the Numbers page of the Plivo console, or by using the Numbers API. If this is your first time using Plivo APIs, follow our instructions to set up a Python development environment and a web server and safely expose that server to the internet.
Create a file called
ivr.py and paste into it this code.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 # -*- coding: utf-8 -*- from flask import Flask, Response, request, url_for from plivo import plivoxml # Message that Plivo reads when the caller dials in ivr_message1 = "Welcome to the demo. Press 1 to contact sales. Press 2 to contact support" # Message that Plivo reads when the caller does nothing noinput_message = "Sorry, I didn't catch that. Please hang up and try again" # Message that Plivo reads when the caller enters an invalid number wronginput_message = "Sorry, that's not a valid entry" # Sales Phone number salesphone_number = "+15671234567" # Support Phone number supportphone_number = "+15671234578" app = Flask(__name__) @app.route('/ivr/', methods=['GET','POST']) def ivr(): response = plivoxml.ResponseElement() response.add(plivoxml.GetInputElement(). set_action(url_for('firstbranch', _external=True)). set_method('POST'). set_input_type('dtmf'). set_digit_end_timeout(5). set_redirect(True).add( plivoxml.SpeakElement(ivr_message1))) response.add(plivoxml.SpeakElement(noinput_message)) return Response(response.to_string(), mimetype='application/xml') @app.route('/ivr/firstbranch/', methods=['GET','POST']) def firstbranch(): response = plivoxml.ResponseElement() digit = request.values.get('Digits') if digit == "1": response.add(plivoxml.DialElement().add( plivoxml.NumberElement(salesphone_number))) elif digit == "2": response.add(plivoxml.DialElement().add( plivoxml.NumberElement(supportphone_number))) else: response.add_speak(wronginput_message) return Response(response.to_string(), mimetype='application/xml') if __name__ == '__main__': app.run(host='0.0.0.0', debug=True)
Save the file and run it.
You should see your basic server application in action at http://localhost:5000/ivr/.
Set up ngrok to expose your local server to the internet.
Associate the Flask application you created with Plivo by creating a Plivo application. Visit Voice > Applications in the Plivo console and click on Add New Application, or use Plivo’s Application API.
Give your application a name — we called ours
Phone IVR. Enter the server URL you want to use (for example
https://<yourdomain>.com/ivr/) in the
Answer URL field and set the method to
POST. Click Create Application to save your application.
Navigate to the Numbers page and select the phone number you want to use for this application.
From the Application Type drop-down, select
From the Plivo Application drop-down, select
Phone IVR (the name we gave the application).
Click Update Number to save.
Make a call to your Plivo phone number and see how the IVR application works.