I am looking for a computerised telephone call handler.

Posted on 2006-05-05
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I have a requirement for an automated telephone ordering system, but I do not know what equipment I would need.

The basic concept is that a client calls the auto-responder. They are prompted to enter an account number. This is validated, then the caller is asked "how many". This quantity is entered on the telephone keypad, which adds an order to the computer system.

A sample "script" follows:-

Caller dials number

X says:Welcome... Enter Your Account No.

Caller enters 3894374

X looks up 3894374 in the User Database

X says: Account validated, enter quantity required

Caller enters 12#

X logs order

X says: Your order has been placed, goodbye.

x hangs up.

My problem is that I do not know what X is. What equipment do I need to answer a call, and treat the telephone touchpad as data input?  I am just looking for a few brand names that would perform the above.
Question by:MortimerCat
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    I'd look into Asterisk:

    A free, fully featured PABX system.  There is also a LiveCD version, that you can run without installing anything onto your computer, so you can try it out (though you can have it install to a hard drive, if you'd like).  The LiveCD version also has configuration wizards, which make it a lot easier to get going.

    In terms of hardware, you will need to purchase for you computer a "FXP" card or device, so you can connect it to your phone line.  Asterisk supports a range of different hardware that does this job.

    For the ordering system you describe, you'll probably need to do more manual configuration than Asterisk@Home will let you do though its Web UI, but you can log into it and manually tweak configuration files.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Thanks for that.

    I have not had much experience with installing and configuring open source software so I think I would prefer a Windows package solution if there is one.

    I have located some software called Voiceguide. Has anyone had any experience with that?

    LVL 3

    Accepted Solution

    Although there are advantages of just running a windows application, I wouldn't shy away from something just because it has 'open source' somewhere associated with it (which does seem to be the buzzword of the day, at the moment).  Asterisk@home is definitely easy to set up and use, via the web interface.  Admittedly, it does require a dedicated machine to run it, but even an old Pentium-2 machine would be sufficient.

    I don't know of anything that runs on Windows, even for basic voicemail, so good luck with your search!  Hopefully someone else can give you a few pointers.

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