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Automated Survey with Java and Spark

About This Application

This Spark application uses the Twilio API to create an automated survey conducted over SMS or phone call. Callers will interact with this application over the phone, and you will be able to view the results on a dynamic dashboard.

Check out the source code for this application on GitHub.

In this tutorial, we'll highlight the code that interacts with Twilio and in turn makes the application tick. Check out the project README on GitHub to see how to run the code yourself.

Instacart uses Twilio to power their customer service surveys and integrate that feedback into their customer database. Read more here.

Click here to get started!

Creating a Survey

Before we gather responses, let's specify the questions we would like to ask.

Each question is created as a JSON object with two attributes: text, which holds the question we'd like to ask, and type, which describes the kind of input we expect a caller to provide when asked that question.

Our app reads this JSON into a Java object using Google's Gson library.

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        JSON file containing survey questions


        Our users will need to contact us in order to take our survey. Let's see how to accept a call or SMS.

        Accept a call with Twilio

        Accepting a Call

        Every time your Twilio number receives a call or an SMS, Twilio will send an HTTP request to the application asking what to do next. The application responds with TwiML that describes the action (<Say> a phrase, <Gather> input, <Message> an SMS, among others).

        Your Twilio number must be configured to make requests to the /interview route of this application. Go to your Manage Numbers page, and set up a new TwiML application using one of your Twilio numbers.

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

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              Handle an incoming call


              Now that we can receive a call, let's look at how to ask our user a question.

              Ask a question via SMS or voice call

              Asking a Question

              Once the application receives an HTTP request from Twilio, it uses a different factory based on whether an SMS or phone call generated the request. This factory helps us build the appropriate TwiML response.

              For SMS requests, the application will use the <Message> verb to answer all requests.

              For requests generated by phone calls, the TwiML will use the <Say> verb for the question's text, and <Gather> or <Record> to collect input based on expected user input.

              TwiML verbs have properties that allow you to change the way the verb works. For example, the <Record> verb always collects audio input, but using the transcribeCallback property, you can specify a route to which Twilio will send a transcript of the audio input. For more on TwiML verbs and their properties, check out the TwiML API documentation.

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                    Build TwiML for survey questions


                    Let's see how to work with the transcription of a recorded response.

                    Transcribe voice messages

                    Using a Transcript of a Recorded Response

                    When Twilio finishes transcribing a free-form voice response, the application finds the corresponding survey and updates the response for that question to include the transcription. This makes it easier to skim the responses without listening to the full call.

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                          Update survey question with the transcribed answer


                          Let's take a look at how to store the caller's response.

                          Store survey responses

                          Storing the Caller's Response

                          After each TwiML verb is executed and input is collected, Twilio sends that input to the application along with a request for more TwiML. The
                          /interview route in our controller handles this input and passes it to the model to update the survey. Using MongoDB's Morphia document-object mapper, we can update the question index, responses, and completeness status of the survey.

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                                Update the survey in the database


                                Finally, let's take a look at how to display our survey results.

                                Render survey results

                                Displaying Survey Results

                                In order to view our results, the completed surveys are serialized to JSON which then populates the dashboard. The dashboard is served at the root (/) URL of the application. We use jQuery to call this route via Ajax and display the survey results in charts on the home page.

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                                      Serialize survey questions and answers in a JSON object


                                      Pat yourself on the back! If you have configured one of your Twilio numbers to the application built in this tutorial, you should be able to take the survey and see the results under the root route of the application. We hope you found this sample application useful.

                                      What's next?

                                      Where to Next?

                                      If you're hungry for more ways to work with Twilio APIs in Java, check out one of our other tutorials, like:

                                      Appointment Reminders

                                      Automate the process of reaching out to your customers in advance of an upcoming appointment.

                                      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!

                                      Mario Celi Orlando Hidalgo Kat King Samuel Mendes Andrew Baker Jose Oliveros Jeffrey Linwood Brianna DelValle
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                                      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 by visiting Twilio's Stack Overflow Collective or browsing the Twilio tag on Stack Overflow.

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