Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Building an IVR System

20130718_100144An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system is one great way to help call centres automatically direct incoming calls. It may even help reduce staffing requirements if some call issues can be resolved automatically. We envisioned a slightly different use of IVR, and that is to direct the handling of after hours “emergency” calls. You see, we don’t currently have any sort of a centralised 24×7 emergency contact number.

This idea isn’t actually even new for us. I had this idea like maybe over a decade ago. That’s how we ended up exploring VOIP gateways, Asterisk software PBX, and other interesting SIP and Skinny gadgets. We did build something. At that time, the plan also involved equipping some users with soft-phones so that they can still be reachable away from office through the IPTel network at work.

But there was no specific requirement or business case driven from the user end. It was merely a fun project that we cooked up ourselves. Eventually, we got overwhelmed by other projects, and this one died a natural death.

We seem to have a renewed interest in it now, so I’m re-looking at all these old stuffs that we used to have. Surprisingly, Asterisk hasn’t changed that much in a decade. But I’ve forgotten so much about Asterisk that I pretty much need to give myself a crash course. Asterisk is still a really powerful software PBX, and I’m sure we’ll be able to do lots of interesting things with it.

Fortunately we already have all the hardware to enable us to get working right away. After tinkering for a couple of days, with some unproductive time wasted figuring out and isolating hardware that was broken, we sort of have a proof-of-concept of an IVR system for our needs.

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