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IVR: Phone Tree with Node.js and Express

ET Phone Home: IVR Node and Express Example

This Node.js Express 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 other companies built phone trees on IVR with Twilio. Find guides for many web languages on our IVR example page.

Click here to start the tutorial!

Responding to 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 Twilio with TwiML

Respond to the Twilio request with TwiML

Our Twilio number is now configured to send HTTP requests to this route 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 we Say a welcome message.


        After saying the text to the caller and retrieving their 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, the /ivr/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 enters no digits.


              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

              This route handles processing the caller's input.

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

              If the caller chooses '2' to call their home planet, then 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.


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

                    Get more input from your caller

                    The Planet Directory: Connect the caller to another number

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

                    In this route, 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 their home planet.

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


                          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 Node.js developer working with Twilio, you might want to check out these other tutorials:

                          Account Verification

                          Use Twilio and Twilio-powered Authy to implement account verification at the point of registration.

                          Two-Factor Authentication with Authy

                          Use Twilio and Twilio-powered Authy OneTouch to implement two-factor authentication (2FA) in your web app

                          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!

                          Kevin Whinnery Justin Pirie Kat King Andrew Baker Jose Oliveros Paul Kamp
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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 Community Forums or browsing the Twilio tag on Stack Overflow.


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