IVR – Interactive Voice Response

A voice response menu allows you to play menus to callers – such as “For sales press one…” – or whatever you want. 

In this article, we will explain how you can set up a voice response menu for your business in a matter of minutes.



To get started, ensure that you have a free Sonetel account. If you have one, go to the Voice app section in the account settings.


Features of a Voice response Menu

A Voice Response menu has the following features:

  • Welcome message
    Plays an optional welcome message such as “Welcome to Donnie’s gift shop”.
  • Menu
    Plays a message offering the caller “Press 1 for sales or 2 for support” or whatever you prefer it to say. Dependent on what the caller selects with their dial pad on their phone (0-9), you can either play some recorded information or forward the call to a user, phone number or other voice app or SIP address. 
  • Action if no choice
    Allows you to define what should happen if caller doesn’t select anything. 
You can create as many Voice response menus as you want.



Create the menu

To create a Cloud IVR menu sign into the Sonetel web app and move to the Voice apps section. If you do not yet have a Sonetel account, create one free here.

This is what the Voice apps section looks like in the Account settings.

A “Main menu” is created by default in your Sonetel account.

You can create as many additional menus as you like by clicking on the “+” icon in the upper right corner of the page.

When creating a new Voice app, you will be asked to give it a name and select type of voice app.

In this case, select “Menu”.

Once you click on “Create”, you will come to the edit view for your new menu.


Voice Response Menu edit view

Here are the configuration options:

  • Menu messages
    Click on this link to view all the voice messages used by your Voice Response menu. You can update existing voice messages (such as the “Welcome” message) with your own recordings and define new voice messages (such as “This week’s special offers”) to be played to callers. (see further explanation in the next section below).
  • Delete
    Delete the entire menu.
  • Menu name
    The name you gave the IVR menu when you created it.
  • Default language
    There are default recorded messages for the IVR menu that are played to callers until you replace them with your own recordings – such as “Please wait while we connect your call”. If you don’t replace these messages, they will be played to callers in the language selected here.
  • Play the welcome message
    If this option is selected, there will be an initial welcome message played before the caller comes to the actual menu. The default message played is simply “Welcome”.
  • Actions
    For each of the possible selections by the caller, using their dial pad (0-9), you can define a corresponding action (see below). For example; If they press 1 you may want to forward the caller to some mobile number. Pressing 2 may trigger playing of an information message. Selecting 3 may divert their call to another menu.
  • If no option is selected
    The action defined here defines what the system should do in case the caller doesn’t select anything after hearing the menu message twice.


Menu actions

The menu actions correspond to the different digits available in the callers dial pad. Dependent on what digit they click on in their phone, a corresponding action can be taken by the menu.

Here are the possible actions that you can take when the caller selects a menu option.

  • Play a message
    Have a voice message played to callers with your open hours, or your special offers or any other type of information that many callers regularly ask about. You can define as many information messages as you want and record them one by one (more information about the recording in the next segment).
  • User
    The caller will be connected to the team member that you select. The user’s personal call settings will define how they receive the call.
  • Phone number
    Enter a phone number – preferably in the +NUMBER format – that the caller should be forwarded to.
  • Voice app
    Connect the caller to another Voice menu, Announcement or Voicemail box.
  • SIP address
    Enter a SIP-address that the call should be diverted to.
  • Disconnect
    Hangs up the call.


Menu messages

Menu messages are the recorded prompts that are played to the caller, such as “Welcome to…” or “For sales press 1…” .

Each Voice Response menu created has default system messages. These are played to callers unless you replace them with your own recordings.

You can access the list of current Menu messages by clicking on Menu messages in the upper right corner when editing a voice menu.

Here you can listen to the currently used recordings and update them.

  • Listen
    Click on the Play icon for the message you want to hear. This will playback what the Caller will hear. This will be whatever recording you have provided or the default system recording.
  • Replace audio
    Replace the current recording with something new. Click on the menu icon (the three dots to the right of the Play icon) to get the options, and then select “Replace audio”. See what to do next below.
  • Delete
    If the message is one that you have defined yourself, there will be an option to Delete the message, in the options menu found under the three dots. Standard messages, like Welcome, cannot be deleted.
  • Rename
    Menu messages that you have defined yourself can be renamed. This option is available in the options menu under the three dots.
  • + New message
    Define a new message that you want to be available to callers if they make a certain selection in the menu.

Options when creating a new message

If you chose to replace the recording in an existing message with a new recording –  or create a new message – you will have the following options:

  • Upload audio file
    Upload WAV files MP3 files etc.
  • Text to speech
    Type a text and have it converted to a recording in the language of choice, using Text-to-speech.
  • Record
    The system will call you on your mobile number (as entered when you created your Sonetel account) allowing you to record the message via your phone.

Below, you can see how the Text-to-speech function works. You can listen to the result before you save it.

The Text-to-speech is free to use – with some fair usage limitations. Read more about this.

The process of creating an IVR menu is described in this video:



How to connect incoming calls to your IVR menu

You can purchase phone numbers from Sonetel and connect these to your Voice Response menu. If you already have a Sonetel account, go to the phone numbers page. Otherwise, sign up here.

You can also send incoming calls from any SIP-based service provider to your IVR apps by redirecting incoming calls to the unique SIP addresses of the apps.



Photo by Siavash Ghanbari and dominik hofbauer on Unsplash