Programming in Paradise: 8 Hours Spent Hacking The Aircall API

Hackathon Aircall API

Overview

  1. Why Did We Do This?
  2. The Rules of Competition
  3. Teams and Projects
  4. Common Themes in Projects
  5. Two Main Takeaways
  6. Work at Aircall

Why did Aircall send its French and U.S. teams to the Moroccan desert for four days in the heat of June?

For one, summer has been slow-coming in both Paris and NYC, and the company was dangerously vitamin D deficient.

Second, the annual company offsite gives our trans-Atlantic team the chance to meet and collaborate in ways that remote communication tools can’t replicate.

For our bi-continental software engineers, this means ONE. VERY. IMPORTANT. AND. FUN. WORD.

hackathon animated

The challenge? Build an entirely new integration using the Aircall API in a single day.

Why did we do this?

The more business tools we can connect to, the more valuable our phone system becomes for our customers. Furthermore, voice presents an exciting integration opportunity with many software products beyond sales and support functions.

The hackathon environment offers Aircall engineers hands-on experience with emerging technologies they may not encounter every day. Buzzwords like AI, natural speech recognition, and sentiment analysis can be explored in a risk-free setting.

And when so much creativity meets in one place for a sustained period of time, magnificent things happen. Notable projects that present solid proof of concept and benefit to customers could find their way onto the product roadmap in the not-so-distant future.

Hey now, anything’s possible.

But most importantly, we couldn’t just let our engineers lounge in the shade of breezy palm trees for three days without slamming out at least a few lines of code… this was a work function after all.

Hackathon Rules

The hackathon took place on the last full day of our offsite, and the guidelines were straightforward:

  • Build a Proof of Concept, working locally
  • Deadline is 6pm
  • Work in whatever programming language you are most comfortable with
  • Groups of 3 people maximum

In addition to these technicalities and the stipulation that the project must, of course, in some way use the Aircall API each team would present a short demo to the whole company at 6:30.

Furthermore, two “winners” would be selected by Jeff Reekers, VP of Marketing, in the categories of…

  • Most creative integration
  • Most useful integration for general audiences

And with that, the teams started organizing!

List of Teams and Proposed Projects

  • Lever x Aircall
    • HR representatives are directed to the correct job applicant’s profile on Lever when initiating phone interviews.
  • Detect & Track Key Phrases (Winner: Most Creative)
    • Easily categorize calls by subject matter using speech recognition.
  • Aircall → Airtable
    • Push all call data to Airtable for easily visualized analytics.
  • Sentiment Analysis for Call Effectiveness
    • Determine on-call effectiveness by analyzing speaker’s vocal intonations.
  • Aircall x LinkedIn
    • Vital contact info is automatically pulled from Linkedin into Aircall for more informed calls. Outbound links included.
  • Google Calendar x Aircall
    • Create a Google calendar event using simple commands within Aircall’s in-call “notes” field.
  • Aircall Insight Cards x QuickScript™ (Winner: Most Useful – General Audience)
    • Display a relevant menu of scripts for agents to use while on calls via Aircall’s Insight Cards.
  • Connect Aircall to Mobile Voice Assistance
    • Start calls in Aircall app using iOS and Android voice assistant tools.
  • Syncing Aircall & Slack Availability
    • Avoid unwanted interruptions by automatically letting people know you’re on a call in Slack.
  • Easy Aircall Onboarding via Slack
    • Simplify onboarding processes: a new Aircall user (and phone number) is created whenever a teammate is added to your Slack workspace.

Themes and Analysis

At first glance, these projects seem unrelated, but a closer look reveals patterns about the nature of our integrations and what Aircall engineers want to explore further.

Exploring Emerging Technologies

Natural language processing, transcription, and sentiment analysis are all super-intriguing buzzwords for those of us in voice communications.

However, large scale-implementation of these technologies will take time. Plus, a lot of the tools currently available aren’t quite “there yet.” While some features may work in a highly controlled environment, in the real world, they would likely create more problems than they help solve.

However, for the purposes of our hackathon, anything goes, and three groups chose to investigate these nascent forms of artificial intelligence. They included:

  • Sentiment Analysis. An analysis of each speaker’s voice to determine overall sentiment during the conversation. This would theoretically be used to determine whether callers were satisfied or dissatisfied with their sales or support experience.
  • Voice Commands. Starting calls in Aircall using mobile voice recognition like Siri or HeyGoogle. Adding this feature brings all the advantages of hands-free technology, including dialing efficiency and greater access for those with disabilities.
  • Speech Detection. Organizing calls according to subject matter helps support teams solve tickets faster. If natural language processing tools can do this for us, time-to-resolution will drop accordingly.

Expanding Current Integrations

The rules of the hackathon stipulated that teams couldn’t build a helpdesk or CRM integration, but some groups chose to improve or deepen current integrations that match this description.

For example, Slack has become the most popular intra-organizational communication tool. As a result, this simple chat platform is now the central hub for many companies’ core operations.

Realizing this trend, two hackathon teams chose to build a closer connection between the Slack and Aircall APIs.

  • Customize Aircall via Slack. One team lets users adjust their Aircall setup directly within Slack. Using a simple command and a few intuitive prompts, new Aircall users (and phone numbers) can be created whenever a new teammate is added to a Slack workspace.

  • Customize Slack via Aircall. Another team did the opposite. Actions taken within Aircall — e.x. starting a sales or support phone call — are instantly reflected as an away status in Slack. This minimizes distracting notifications during important interactions.
  • QuickScripts. A deceptively simple but effective project, this team used an existing Aircall-integration feature to give added value to support and sales reps. Insight cards currently provide vital customer information from Shopify, Salesforce, or Hubspot directly within the Aircall dialer. Using this sleek “pop-up” capability, this group changed the code to provide representatives with a targeted list of call scripts. The hyperlinked menu ensures representatives always say the right thing (even if the right thing is a hilarious joke…).

Making Aircall More Powerful

The ultimate goal, however, was to integrate Aircall with tools outside of the norm. How can a cloud-based phone system be leveraged to make all other aspects of business easier? Here, our engineers came up with some creative solutions.

  • Aircall and Google Calendar. Doing more from the Aircall dialer — this integration lets Aircall users create a google calendar invite using commands directly within the “Notes” feature. Fewer steps make for faster workflows and less room for scheduling errors.
  • Aircall and Linkedin. Simple but effective. The same technology used to pull the correct user profile within a CRM system can be used to research an individual on LinkedIn. This could prove helpful for sales reps when cold-calling.

  • Aircall and Lever. As a whole new use case, integrating Aircall with the recruiting tool Lever makes phone interviews a simple and enjoyable process. Just like with helpdesk CRMs, the Lever-Aircall integration will automatically pull up the correct candidate’s profile when on a call. Recruiters no longer have to go searching for writing samples, resumes, or interviewer notes.

The Odd Hardware Hack

As a fact of life, reliable internet can be hard to find in a remote Moroccan villa. That’s why one brave individual chose to integrate Aircall with Aircall’s favorite tool: a Jabra headset.


That’s right — now you can answer calls with your Jabra.

Useful? Time will tell. Amusing? You betcha.

Two Key Takeaways

The goal wasn’t to have a beta-ready prototype within 9 hours — just to have a proof of concept and get some quality pool-time in during the breaks.

That being said, our engineers impressed with their vision and focus. The patterns in project choice and function leave two lasting impressions.

1. Technology Continues to Become More Human

At a high level, we want our computers, phones, and software to understand us better. This means listening to our choice of words and the ways in which we say them. It also means predicting why customers are calling and what information they might need.

Focusing on these technologies will inevitably increase productivity through automation.

2. Centralized Control is a Priority

Unfortunately, a diversity of tools can mean switching between dozens of open tabs and a few different desktop apps. When call volume is high and deadlines need to be met, this back-and-forth can lead to frustration or human error.

Integrations allow users to manipulate multiple platforms within one, central tool. We can already see examples of this via Slack’s many extensions or Aircall’s in-app CTI for HubSpot and Salesforce.

As SaaS continues to gain traction, this will become even more desirable for fast-moving startups.

Further Reading

The hackathon is over and our engineers are home-safe on their respective continents, but there’s always more to discover re: our software integrations

The phone system for modern business