IVR: Phone Tree with Ruby and Rails

Download the Code

ET Phone Home

This Ruby on Rails sample application is modeled after a typical call center experience with an IVR but with more Reese's Pieces.

Stranded aliens can call a phone number and receive instructions on how to get out of earth safely or call their home planet directly. In this tutorial we'll show you the key bits of code to make this work.

To run this sample app yourself, download the code and follow the instructions on GitHub.

Read how Livestream and other companies built IVR phone trees with Twilio. Find examples and sample code for many web languages on our IVR application page.

Answering a Phone Call

To initiate the phone tree, we need to configure one of our Twilio numbers to send our web application an HTTP request when we get an incoming call.

Click on one of your numbers and configure the Voice URL to point to our app. In our code the route will be /ivr/welcome.

IVR Webhook Configuration

If you don't already have a server configured to use as your webhook, ngrok is a great tool for testing webhooks locally.

With our Twilio number configured, we are prepared to respond to the Twilio request.

 

Respond to the Twilio request with TwiML

Our Twilio number is now configured to send HTTP requests to this controller method on any incoming voice calls. Our app responds with TwiML to tell Twilio what to do in response to the message.

In this case we tell Twilio to Gather the input from the caller and Play a welcome message.

Loading Code Samples...
Language
require 'twilio-ruby'
require 'sanitize'


class TwilioController < ApplicationController

  def index
    render text: "Dial Me."
  end

  # POST ivr/welcome
  def ivr_welcome
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new
    gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: menu_path)
    gather.play(url: "http://howtodocs.s3.amazonaws.com/et-phone.mp3", loop: 3)
    response.append(gather)

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  # GET ivr/selection
  def menu_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "1"
      @output = "To get to your extraction point, get on your bike and go down
        the street. Then Left down an alley. Avoid the police cars. Turn left
        into an unfinished housing development. Fly over the roadblock. Go
        passed the moon. Soon after you will see your mother ship."
      twiml_say(@output, true)
    when "2"
      list_planets
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end

  end

  # POST/GET ivr/planets
  # planets_path
  def planet_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "2"
      twiml_dial("+12024173378")
    when "3"
      twiml_dial("+12027336386")
    when "4"
      twiml_dial("+12027336637")
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end
  end

  private

  def list_planets
    message = "To call the planet Broh doe As O G, press 2. To call the planet
    DuhGo bah, press 3. To call an oober asteroid to your location, press 4. To
    go back to the main menu, press the star key."

    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: planets_path)
      gather.say(message, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB', loop: 3)
      r.append(gather)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_say(phrase, exit = false)
    # Respond with some TwiML and say something.
    # Should we hangup or go back to the main menu?
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.say(phrase, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB')
      if exit
        r.say("Thank you for calling the ET Phone Home Service - the
        adventurous alien's first choice in intergalactic travel.")
        r.hangup
      else
        r.redirect(welcome_path)
      end
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_dial(phone_number)
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.dial(number: phone_number)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end
end
app/controllers/twilio_controller.rb
Respond with TwiML to gather an option from the caller

app/controllers/twilio_controller.rb

After playing the audio and retrieving the caller's input, Twilio will send this input to our application.

Where to send the caller's input

The gather's action parameter takes an absolute or relative URL as a value. In our case, this is the menu route.

When the caller has finished entering digits, Twilio will make a GET or POST request to this URL including a Digits parameter with the number our caller chose.

After making this request, Twilio will continue the current call using the TwiML received in your response. Any TwiML verbs occurring after a <Gather> are unreachable, unless the caller doesn't enter any digits.

Loading Code Samples...
Language
require 'twilio-ruby'
require 'sanitize'


class TwilioController < ApplicationController

  def index
    render text: "Dial Me."
  end

  # POST ivr/welcome
  def ivr_welcome
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new
    gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: menu_path)
    gather.play(url: "http://howtodocs.s3.amazonaws.com/et-phone.mp3", loop: 3)
    response.append(gather)

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  # GET ivr/selection
  def menu_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "1"
      @output = "To get to your extraction point, get on your bike and go down
        the street. Then Left down an alley. Avoid the police cars. Turn left
        into an unfinished housing development. Fly over the roadblock. Go
        passed the moon. Soon after you will see your mother ship."
      twiml_say(@output, true)
    when "2"
      list_planets
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end

  end

  # POST/GET ivr/planets
  # planets_path
  def planet_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "2"
      twiml_dial("+12024173378")
    when "3"
      twiml_dial("+12027336386")
    when "4"
      twiml_dial("+12027336637")
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end
  end

  private

  def list_planets
    message = "To call the planet Broh doe As O G, press 2. To call the planet
    DuhGo bah, press 3. To call an oober asteroid to your location, press 4. To
    go back to the main menu, press the star key."

    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: planets_path)
      gather.say(message, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB', loop: 3)
      r.append(gather)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_say(phrase, exit = false)
    # Respond with some TwiML and say something.
    # Should we hangup or go back to the main menu?
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.say(phrase, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB')
      if exit
        r.say("Thank you for calling the ET Phone Home Service - the
        adventurous alien's first choice in intergalactic travel.")
        r.hangup
      else
        r.redirect(welcome_path)
      end
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_dial(phone_number)
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.dial(number: phone_number)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end
end
app/controllers/twilio_controller.rb
Send caller input to the intended route

app/controllers/twilio_controller.rb

Now that we have told Twilio where to send the caller's input, we can look at how to process that input.

The Main Menu: Process the caller's selection

If our caller chooses '1' for directions, we use the twiml_say helper method to respond with TwiML that will Say directions to our caller's extraction point.

If the caller chooses '2' to call their home planet, we need to gather more input from them. We'll cover this in the next step.

If the caller enters anything else, we respond with a TwiML Redirect to the main menu.

Loading Code Samples...
Language
require 'twilio-ruby'
require 'sanitize'


class TwilioController < ApplicationController

  def index
    render text: "Dial Me."
  end

  # POST ivr/welcome
  def ivr_welcome
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new
    gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: menu_path)
    gather.play(url: "http://howtodocs.s3.amazonaws.com/et-phone.mp3", loop: 3)
    response.append(gather)

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  # GET ivr/selection
  def menu_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "1"
      @output = "To get to your extraction point, get on your bike and go down
        the street. Then Left down an alley. Avoid the police cars. Turn left
        into an unfinished housing development. Fly over the roadblock. Go
        passed the moon. Soon after you will see your mother ship."
      twiml_say(@output, true)
    when "2"
      list_planets
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end

  end

  # POST/GET ivr/planets
  # planets_path
  def planet_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "2"
      twiml_dial("+12024173378")
    when "3"
      twiml_dial("+12027336386")
    when "4"
      twiml_dial("+12027336637")
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end
  end

  private

  def list_planets
    message = "To call the planet Broh doe As O G, press 2. To call the planet
    DuhGo bah, press 3. To call an oober asteroid to your location, press 4. To
    go back to the main menu, press the star key."

    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: planets_path)
      gather.say(message, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB', loop: 3)
      r.append(gather)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_say(phrase, exit = false)
    # Respond with some TwiML and say something.
    # Should we hangup or go back to the main menu?
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.say(phrase, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB')
      if exit
        r.say("Thank you for calling the ET Phone Home Service - the
        adventurous alien's first choice in intergalactic travel.")
        r.hangup
      else
        r.redirect(welcome_path)
      end
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_dial(phone_number)
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.dial(number: phone_number)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end
end
app/controllers/twilio_controller.rb
Main menu and return instructions

app/controllers/twilio_controller.rb

That was only the main menu and the first option. If the caller chooses '2', we will take them to the Planet Directory in order to collect more input.

 

The Planet Directory: Collect more input from the caller

If our callers choose to call their home planet, we will read them the planet directory. This is similar to a typical "company directory" feature of most IVRs.

In our TwiML response we use a Gather verb again to receive our caller's input. This time, the action verb points to the planets route, which will switch our response based on what the caller chooses.

The TwiML response we return for that route uses a Dial verb with the appropriate phone number to connect our caller to their home planet.The current numbers are hardcoded, but we can also set those numbers using environment variables.

Loading Code Samples...
Language
require 'twilio-ruby'
require 'sanitize'


class TwilioController < ApplicationController

  def index
    render text: "Dial Me."
  end

  # POST ivr/welcome
  def ivr_welcome
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new
    gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: menu_path)
    gather.play(url: "http://howtodocs.s3.amazonaws.com/et-phone.mp3", loop: 3)
    response.append(gather)

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  # GET ivr/selection
  def menu_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "1"
      @output = "To get to your extraction point, get on your bike and go down
        the street. Then Left down an alley. Avoid the police cars. Turn left
        into an unfinished housing development. Fly over the roadblock. Go
        passed the moon. Soon after you will see your mother ship."
      twiml_say(@output, true)
    when "2"
      list_planets
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end

  end

  # POST/GET ivr/planets
  # planets_path
  def planet_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "2"
      twiml_dial("+12024173378")
    when "3"
      twiml_dial("+12027336386")
    when "4"
      twiml_dial("+12027336637")
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end
  end

  private

  def list_planets
    message = "To call the planet Broh doe As O G, press 2. To call the planet
    DuhGo bah, press 3. To call an oober asteroid to your location, press 4. To
    go back to the main menu, press the star key."

    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: planets_path)
      gather.say(message, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB', loop: 3)
      r.append(gather)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_say(phrase, exit = false)
    # Respond with some TwiML and say something.
    # Should we hangup or go back to the main menu?
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.say(phrase, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB')
      if exit
        r.say("Thank you for calling the ET Phone Home Service - the
        adventurous alien's first choice in intergalactic travel.")
        r.hangup
      else
        r.redirect(welcome_path)
      end
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_dial(phone_number)
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.dial(number: phone_number)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end
end
app/controllers/twilio_controller.rb
Route users to a new phone number via the Planet Directory

app/controllers/twilio_controller.rb

That's it! We've just implemented an IVR phone tree that will delight and serve your customers.

Where to Next?

If you're a Ruby developer working with Twilio, you might enjoy these other tutorials:

Automated Survey

Instantly collect structured data from your users with a survey conducted over a voice call or SMS text messages.

Click-to-call

Click-to-call enables your company to convert web traffic into phone calls with the click of a button.

Did this help?

Thanks for checking out this tutorial! If you have any feedback to share with us, we'd love to hear it. Connect with us on Twitter and let us know what you build!

Jarod Reyes
Justin Pirie
Paul Kamp
Kat King
Andrew Baker
Agustin Camino

Need some help?

We all do sometimes; code is hard. Get help now from our support team, or lean on the wisdom of the crowd browsing the Twilio tag on Stack Overflow.

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Loading Code Samples...
require 'twilio-ruby'
require 'sanitize'


class TwilioController < ApplicationController

  def index
    render text: "Dial Me."
  end

  # POST ivr/welcome
  def ivr_welcome
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new
    gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: menu_path)
    gather.play(url: "http://howtodocs.s3.amazonaws.com/et-phone.mp3", loop: 3)
    response.append(gather)

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  # GET ivr/selection
  def menu_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "1"
      @output = "To get to your extraction point, get on your bike and go down
        the street. Then Left down an alley. Avoid the police cars. Turn left
        into an unfinished housing development. Fly over the roadblock. Go
        passed the moon. Soon after you will see your mother ship."
      twiml_say(@output, true)
    when "2"
      list_planets
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end

  end

  # POST/GET ivr/planets
  # planets_path
  def planet_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "2"
      twiml_dial("+12024173378")
    when "3"
      twiml_dial("+12027336386")
    when "4"
      twiml_dial("+12027336637")
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end
  end

  private

  def list_planets
    message = "To call the planet Broh doe As O G, press 2. To call the planet
    DuhGo bah, press 3. To call an oober asteroid to your location, press 4. To
    go back to the main menu, press the star key."

    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: planets_path)
      gather.say(message, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB', loop: 3)
      r.append(gather)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_say(phrase, exit = false)
    # Respond with some TwiML and say something.
    # Should we hangup or go back to the main menu?
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.say(phrase, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB')
      if exit
        r.say("Thank you for calling the ET Phone Home Service - the
        adventurous alien's first choice in intergalactic travel.")
        r.hangup
      else
        r.redirect(welcome_path)
      end
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_dial(phone_number)
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.dial(number: phone_number)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end
end
require 'twilio-ruby'
require 'sanitize'


class TwilioController < ApplicationController

  def index
    render text: "Dial Me."
  end

  # POST ivr/welcome
  def ivr_welcome
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new
    gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: menu_path)
    gather.play(url: "http://howtodocs.s3.amazonaws.com/et-phone.mp3", loop: 3)
    response.append(gather)

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  # GET ivr/selection
  def menu_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "1"
      @output = "To get to your extraction point, get on your bike and go down
        the street. Then Left down an alley. Avoid the police cars. Turn left
        into an unfinished housing development. Fly over the roadblock. Go
        passed the moon. Soon after you will see your mother ship."
      twiml_say(@output, true)
    when "2"
      list_planets
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end

  end

  # POST/GET ivr/planets
  # planets_path
  def planet_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "2"
      twiml_dial("+12024173378")
    when "3"
      twiml_dial("+12027336386")
    when "4"
      twiml_dial("+12027336637")
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end
  end

  private

  def list_planets
    message = "To call the planet Broh doe As O G, press 2. To call the planet
    DuhGo bah, press 3. To call an oober asteroid to your location, press 4. To
    go back to the main menu, press the star key."

    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: planets_path)
      gather.say(message, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB', loop: 3)
      r.append(gather)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_say(phrase, exit = false)
    # Respond with some TwiML and say something.
    # Should we hangup or go back to the main menu?
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.say(phrase, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB')
      if exit
        r.say("Thank you for calling the ET Phone Home Service - the
        adventurous alien's first choice in intergalactic travel.")
        r.hangup
      else
        r.redirect(welcome_path)
      end
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_dial(phone_number)
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.dial(number: phone_number)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end
end
require 'twilio-ruby'
require 'sanitize'


class TwilioController < ApplicationController

  def index
    render text: "Dial Me."
  end

  # POST ivr/welcome
  def ivr_welcome
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new
    gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: menu_path)
    gather.play(url: "http://howtodocs.s3.amazonaws.com/et-phone.mp3", loop: 3)
    response.append(gather)

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  # GET ivr/selection
  def menu_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "1"
      @output = "To get to your extraction point, get on your bike and go down
        the street. Then Left down an alley. Avoid the police cars. Turn left
        into an unfinished housing development. Fly over the roadblock. Go
        passed the moon. Soon after you will see your mother ship."
      twiml_say(@output, true)
    when "2"
      list_planets
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end

  end

  # POST/GET ivr/planets
  # planets_path
  def planet_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "2"
      twiml_dial("+12024173378")
    when "3"
      twiml_dial("+12027336386")
    when "4"
      twiml_dial("+12027336637")
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end
  end

  private

  def list_planets
    message = "To call the planet Broh doe As O G, press 2. To call the planet
    DuhGo bah, press 3. To call an oober asteroid to your location, press 4. To
    go back to the main menu, press the star key."

    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: planets_path)
      gather.say(message, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB', loop: 3)
      r.append(gather)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_say(phrase, exit = false)
    # Respond with some TwiML and say something.
    # Should we hangup or go back to the main menu?
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.say(phrase, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB')
      if exit
        r.say("Thank you for calling the ET Phone Home Service - the
        adventurous alien's first choice in intergalactic travel.")
        r.hangup
      else
        r.redirect(welcome_path)
      end
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_dial(phone_number)
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.dial(number: phone_number)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end
end
require 'twilio-ruby'
require 'sanitize'


class TwilioController < ApplicationController

  def index
    render text: "Dial Me."
  end

  # POST ivr/welcome
  def ivr_welcome
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new
    gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: menu_path)
    gather.play(url: "http://howtodocs.s3.amazonaws.com/et-phone.mp3", loop: 3)
    response.append(gather)

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  # GET ivr/selection
  def menu_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "1"
      @output = "To get to your extraction point, get on your bike and go down
        the street. Then Left down an alley. Avoid the police cars. Turn left
        into an unfinished housing development. Fly over the roadblock. Go
        passed the moon. Soon after you will see your mother ship."
      twiml_say(@output, true)
    when "2"
      list_planets
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end

  end

  # POST/GET ivr/planets
  # planets_path
  def planet_selection
    user_selection = params[:Digits]

    case user_selection
    when "2"
      twiml_dial("+12024173378")
    when "3"
      twiml_dial("+12027336386")
    when "4"
      twiml_dial("+12027336637")
    else
      @output = "Returning to the main menu."
      twiml_say(@output)
    end
  end

  private

  def list_planets
    message = "To call the planet Broh doe As O G, press 2. To call the planet
    DuhGo bah, press 3. To call an oober asteroid to your location, press 4. To
    go back to the main menu, press the star key."

    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      gather = Twilio::TwiML::Gather.new(num_digits: '1', action: planets_path)
      gather.say(message, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB', loop: 3)
      r.append(gather)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_say(phrase, exit = false)
    # Respond with some TwiML and say something.
    # Should we hangup or go back to the main menu?
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.say(phrase, voice: 'alice', language: 'en-GB')
      if exit
        r.say("Thank you for calling the ET Phone Home Service - the
        adventurous alien's first choice in intergalactic travel.")
        r.hangup
      else
        r.redirect(welcome_path)
      end
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end

  def twiml_dial(phone_number)
    response = Twilio::TwiML::VoiceResponse.new do |r|
      r.dial(number: phone_number)
    end

    render xml: response.to_s
  end
end