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The Twilio cloud communications service available from advertisement for the merchants which support UMoney.An advertisement explaining the use of the UMoney system.
A screenshot of the interactive map displaying the location and contact information for the various merchants throughout Missoula that support the UMoney currency.

Related Projects

The following projects are related:

Off-Campus Merchant Support IVR

This project was done while I was an RTA Coordinator with Student Affairs IT at the University of Montana, Missoula. One of our client departments, the Griz Card Center (GCC), had established a network of partner merchants throughout the city of Missoula to participate in the university's UMoney program. This program allowed these merchants to accepts payments using funds that had been deposited into a customer's UMoney account managed by GCC by simply swiping their Griz Card (the standard ID card used by students, employees, and others affiliated with the university), much like how a traditional debit card works.

GCC was also responsible for providing support to these merchants to ensure problems with the payment process could be resolved quickly. As a result, GCC wanted a more efficient way to handle and route these support requests that eliminated the limitations associated with giving out a phone number than only rang a single phone line in their office which did not have voicemail enabled. Having created several interactive voice response (IVR) solutions for similar support routing problems in the past this was a fairly simple matter of forking one of my existing IVR solution and altering the underlying logic and behavior. This new IVR would allow any client merchant to call in to a single telephone number for support at any time of day and have their call routed to the appropriate support staff even if nobody was available in the main GCC office.

After working with several of the GCC staff members I was able to design and develop an IVR built upon the Twilio cloud communications platform that met all their need and included features such as:

  • The incoming call could be routed to different destinations depending on the current day and time to ensure these calls are routed to the most appropriate individual(s). This feature allowed for different phones to be rang or different voicemail prompts to be given dependent upon if the call was received during standard business hours, extended business hours when on-call staff are available, or during times when no support at all is being offered.
  • Incoming calls could be routed to groups of individuals at the same time. This allows for maximum on-call coverage by causing all phones within this group to ring simultaneously.
  • A tiered list of groups were made available so that should a primary group fail to answer a call a second-tier group would be called in a similar fashion. If for any reason nobody was able to answer an incoming call a voicemail system was created to handle such situations.
  • Individual and shared voicemail routing allowed voicemail messages to be delivered to individuals or all support staff via email messages containing a link to an MP3 file. Automated real-time transcription of these messages was also supported but not enabled by default as it incurred a small additional charge for each voicemail message that was transcribed.
  • Support staff members were able to make use of personal phone numbers (e.g. personal cell phones) while being on-call without the need to ever disclose this number to the merchants calling for support. This eliminated the need for the department to provide an on-call cell phone for support purposes and the need for the support staff members to carry a second "work" phone.
  • When appropriate, notifications of urgent calls or call that required special attention were made to certain individuals using SMS text messages and email notifications in addition to the phone calls.
  • When calls were received information about the call and caller is collected automatically. This information is sent automatically to an email distribution group containing those involved in the support process for purposes of documentation. This also makes it easier for those in GCC to respond to this email when discussing a problem with their co-workers in order to provide context for their message.

Many of the text messaging and email notifications features worked particularly well for those involved as all on-call staff members carried smart phones which could interact with these services in real-time, facilitating much improved communication and an overall faster response time to resolving merchant problems.