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IVR: Phone Tree with Java and Servlets

ET Phone Home: IVR Java & Servlets Example

This Servlets sample application is modeled after a typical call center experience, 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 others built phone trees on IVR with Twilio. Find examples for many web frameworks and languages on our IVR application page.

Click here to start the tutorial!

Answering the 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 Twilio with TwiML

Respond to the Twilio request with TwiML

Our Twilio number is now configured to send HTTP requests to this controller action 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.

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        Respond with TwiML to gather an option from the caller


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

        See where to send the caller's input

        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/show route.

        When the caller has finished entering digits, Twilio will make a GET or POST request to this URL that includes 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 enters no digits.

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              Send caller input to the intended route


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

              Process the caller's selection

              The Main Menu: Process the caller's selection

              If our caller chooses '1' for directions, we use the getReturnInstructions 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.

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                    Main menu and return instructions


                    If the caller chooses '2', we will take them to the Planet Directory in order to collect more input.

                    Get more input from your caller

                    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 again use a Gather verb to collect 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.

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                          Collect more input from the caller via the Planet Directory


                          Again we show some options to the caller and instruct Twilio to collect the caller's choice.

                          See how we use the caller's input to call another number

                          The Planet Directory: Connect the caller to another number

                          In this servlet, we grab the caller's selection from the request and store it in a variable called selectedOption. We then use a Dial verb with the appropriate phone number to connect our caller to the correct home planet.

                          The current numbers are hard coded, but they could also be read from a database or from a file.

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                                Connect to another number based on caller input


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

                                What's next?

                                Where to Next?

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

                                Automated Survey (Spark)

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

                                Click-To-Call (Servlets)

                                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!

                                Kat King Andrew Baker Paul Kamp David Baldassari Brianna DelValle Diego Villavicencio
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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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