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Creating a Phone Menu (IVR Menu Applet) - Call Flows

Step-by-step instructions for building an Interactive Voice Response menu that allows callers to choose their path.

Tudor Deak avatar
Written by Tudor Deak
Updated over a week ago

smrtPhone makes it simple to build phone menus, also known as IVR or Interactive Voice Response, into your business's contact center.

IVR allows incoming voice dialers to navigate a phone menu to access the right information, perform automatic transfers, and find the right person to assist them. You can supplement your human operators or bypass them entirely for common transactions and information requests.

IVR Applet is built for maximum flexibility.

Preparing to Create Your IVR Menu

Because Phone Menus can be complicated, we recommend sketching out your menu selections on paper to work out the logic before you begin programming smrtPhone. This is especially true if you desire numerous tiers of phone menu options within your IVR.

Ask yourself questions like these:

  • What options do I want to give my caller?

  • What will happen when each option is selected?

  • Do I want to direct the call to an individual user or team? Do I want it to ring or go straight to voicemail?

  • What will happen if no selection is made?

  • What happens if a selection is made to dial someone, but no one answers?

  • What happens if the caller wants to do something that is not on the menu of options?

How to Build an IVR using Call Flows

1. Drag and Drop

Once in the Call Flow editor, drag the IVR Menu Applet from the right-hand menu into the main option under When a call begins, what should we do?.

Then, you can navigate the options underneath the IVR Applet. You have choices as to how your callers will hear their menu options. You can input text that will be read by an automated voice, create a custom recording using your phone, or upload an existing MP3 file. 

2. Option Scenario

Select what happens when the caller selects a certain option. You can fully customize the options by adding any applet from the flow creator.

Visual example:

We have set the IVR to call our agents from Finance when the caller presses 1. To do this, we dragged the Round Robin Applet over to the space next to the Keypress 1 option. The chosen Applet window opens up underneath the IVR Applet for you to select exactly which user or team should be dialed at Option 1. (This is where it is helpful to have your IVR mapped out on paper first, so you can make sure your outbound recording and options all match what you want.)

Then, you would drag over what you wanted for Keypress 2, Keypress 3, etc.

Then, the Applet's dialogue box will open underneath, and you need to complete all of the options to make sure it is set the way you want.

3. Description

Add a description of each key press. To save you time from having to open up each applet to see to whom it is pointed or what it does, you can just leave an internal-facing note to clarify.

Make sure that whatever you recorded in the Menu Prompt matches what you program into the actual keypress options.

IVR Menus can Have Multiple Levels

It is possible to have many branches in your phone menu (which is why they are sometimes called phone trees). You can do this by dragging the IVR Menu applet next to one of your keypress options.

If you want to have a full phone tree with multiple levels, we recommend starting with the broadest buckets and letting the callers narrow down who they want to talk with. For example, you can have a general IVR for your company, then offer up each of the departments. If someone selects Accounting, they can then be given options to talk with Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, or even individual names.

To keep your callers from hitting a dead end when they have to navigate a multi-layer IVR tree, consider adding Return to Previous Menu to your sub-IVR applets.

When you add that to your IVR menu, the keypress will send the caller back one level to the previous menu.

What Happens if No IVR Option is Pressed?

At the bottom of the IVR Applet, is an option to drag over what happens if no option is selected. Common options we see are: Dialing a main receptionist, sending to a general voicemail box, or sometimes even hanging up!

You need to tell the system how long to wait until it has determined that no option has been selected. This is based on the number of times the menu is repeated.

Under the Menu Prompt, you can set how many times the menu should repeat until it advances to the next step in the flow if no selection is pressed. This is customizable to match what works best for your callers.

What Happens if an Invalid Option is Pressed?

What happens if someone presses 7, but you only have options 1, 2, and 3? You can let them know that the IVR did not understand their selection.

To do this, create a custom message that will be played if an invalid option is pressed. You have the option to input a text that will be read by an automated voice, to record using your phone or microphone, to choose from the Media Manager library, or to upload an existing MP3 file. 

What if I have More than 10 Menu Options?

The IVR Menu builder defaults to 1, 2, and 3 as your keypress options, but you can override these options. Click into that field and update the keypress number. You can have 12, 14, 160, 200, and so on. Whatever number combination you want.

Keep in mind: too many options will take a lot of time to review, and callers may get bored or frustrated and hang up before their option comes up. An alternative is to nest an IVR within an IVR, so callers can carefully narrow down their selection.

Call Flow Flexibility

The Call Flow Builder is meant to be very flexible to match your business!

If you have questions on how to build a complex call flow, check in on Live Chat, and one of our team members can help you.

Here's an example of a completed IVR:

  • The menu prompt is being read in a robotic voice

  • The Menu will be repeated three times before it assumes no option has been pressed.

  • There are four options: the first two call users, the third plays a recorded message, and the fourth adds the caller to the DNC list.

  • If no option is selected, it goes to voicemail.

  • If an invalid keypress is made, it says a message in a robot voice.

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