We use Twilio solely for SMS, but on our bill every month we'd see a few minutes of voice that we were charged with. We realized that people were getting SMS messages and calling the number to reach the church. I tried calling the number and got a terrible generic Twilio voicemail saying my mailbox had not been set up. Not a good look!

There's a lot we can do with Twilio. We could re-route their call so that calling an SMS number directs them to the main line. Unfortunately, this would mean we're on the hook for per-minute charges (Twilio charges per-minute at the first second, the 61st second, the 121st second, and so on). So instead we'll set up Twilio to use short recordings that we provide. This is much simpler than you'd think!

You could use one message for all of your SMS numbers, or use a different one for each number/department/person. It's up to you, and not much work either way if you've already set up Twilio SMS.

You'll need two things:

  • An MP3 recording of your voicemail. Our basic script was "Hi, this is XXX at YYY Church. You've reached a text-only number. To talk with me, please call our main line at 111-222-3333 and leave a message, and we'll get back with you. Thanks very much!"  In our example, let's call this file voicemail.mp3.
  • A simple text file. We'll call this one voicemail.xml, but rename it as you see fit.
    <Play>https://yourchurch.org/Assets/voicemail/voicemail.mp3 </Play>

And that's it!

Go to Admin Tools > CMS Configuration > File Manager and navigate to wwwroot > Assets. Create a new directory called "voicemail" and drop your mp3s in there (or anywhere else you want, as long as they can be easily found). Upload your two files (voicemail.mp3 and voicemail.xml) to this directory.

Now, log into Twilio. Choose the number that you want to edit. You've already used a webhook handler for "Messaging," now we're going to add one for "Voice & Fax." On the line that says "A CALL COMES IN," add the link to the XML file on your website, and change "HTTP POST" to "HTTP GET."

Save and that's it! Go ahead and call your SMS number on the phone and test to make sure you hear your message. Your call goes to Twilio, which then gets the XML file from your website, which follows the instructions and plays the MP3 file on your website, back over the phone. Technology is magic!