We are excited to announce on December 17th, 2020, your business clients will have the ability to send SMS text messages from their Business App account! This feature will be available within Inbox in Business App. For the first slice of this release, it will be available for Partners and SMBs located in Canada and the United States.
Why provide SMS Messaging to your clients?
SMS is a top method of business-to-customer communication; in fact, 85% of customers prefer receiving text messages over a phone call or email. With this new feature, your clients can communicate with their customers in their preferred method – and save time calling or sending emails to customers.
Communicating with customers is a high-frequency task that all businesses need better tools for. By giving your clients a tool they can use every day, you increase your brand’s presence and helpfulness in your client’s everyday success, opening up new opportunities as their trusted solutions provider.
SMS Messaging will increase the amount of times your SMB clients log in to Business App – in other words, daily active users in your Business App will increase. This is important to your business because your clients will be more engaged in the platform, leading to further usage opportunities and upgrades to the other products and services you offer.
How Does SMS Messaging in Inbox work?
On December 17th, 2020, SMS in Inbox will be auto-enabled for all SMB clients within their Business App account. If you would like to disable this feature for your clients, see the instructions below, “How to disable SMS Messaging.”
The Inbox tab in Business App will have a new option to Send an SMS Message. Once they click the CTA and send their first message, a local* SMS phone number will automatically be assigned to the business account. (*local, when possible. See FAQ below for more information)
An SMB can either search for an existing contact or create a new one from the SMS screen. The SMB must tick a checkbox that ensures the SMB is allowed to reach out to the contact. Once an SMB begins sending SMS messages to their customers, all conversations will be kept within Inbox.
What is the Cost of SMS in Inbox?
SMS in Inbox will include a free tier for you and your clients. This gives them the opportunity to try out SMS in Inbox, see the value, and upgrade to a paid tier. For the first release, only the free tier will be available. Paid tiers with prices will be available early next year.
The free tier includes:
- 100 outbound SMS credits
- Unlimited incoming SMS credits
- Unlimited unique conversations
Current release limitations
- Business cannot yet receive cold-inbound-texts: Currently, conversations must be initiated by the business. If someone cold-texts the business’s assigned SMS number, this message will not appear in the app, and these messages will be lost. SMBs should not yet advertise their assigned number publicly. There is a warning in the app, beside the SMS number, about this. We will be adding cold-inbound message support very soon.
- MMS is not yet supported. Users cannot send or receive picture or video messages. Any incoming picture or video MMS messages will be dropped.
- Daily Spam Limits: There is a daily send message limit of 250, set by our texting provider for spam prevention. At this time, there is no indicator in the app interface of how many messages have been sent – this will be coming soon. Currently, only a warning message will appear when this limit is reached.
- Privacy: All messages sent or received will be viewable by everyone who has access to the business’s account. We’ve added an agreement that all users must agree to, before using SMS Messaging in Inbox, for transparency. In the future, we will be providing more privacy controls, to allow the end-business-users to better control who has access to their messages.
How to disable SMS Messaging for your clients
How to disable for all accounts
If you want to completely disable SMS messaging for your clients, removing it from Business App for all accounts within a market, you can do so in Partner Center > Administration > Customize > Business App settings > and uncheck “Enable SMS Messaging in Inbox”. If you have multiple markets, you can set this independently for each market.
How to disable for some users
If you don’t want your SMB clients to have access to SMS messaging, you can remove access on a user-by-user basis by logging into Partner Center > Users > Kebab > Edit Permissions > toggle SMS Messaging to ‘off’.
What can my SMBs use SMS messaging for?
SMS messaging can be applied to anything a business needs to contact their customers about. It can also be used as a communication channel for a customer to ask a business questions or get support.
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
- Appointment confirmations, updates, reminders
- Delivery notices
- Order confirmations
- Pricing and quotes
- Answering customer questions and providing customer support
- Update customer information
- COVID-19 screening
- Safe to enter business (due to COVID-19 restrictions)
- And many more!
Frequently asked questions
How is a business assigned a number?
- When using Inbox Messaging for the first time, the business will be automatically assigned an SMS number. The app will attempt to get a local number, based on the business profile address. If no local numbers are available, a number from a neighbouring area in your country will be assigned.
What do I do if my client didn’t receive a local number?
- Sometimes, no local numbers are available. In such cases, it is possible to get a 800-number assigned to the business. Please contact support for assistance with this.
Should a business publish their number publicly?
- Not right now. At this time, it’s not yet possible to receive cold inbound SMS messages. This will be enabled in the coming weeks, so it’d be best to wait until this feature is released before a business shares their SMS number publicly.
How will users know if their business has received a text?
- New messages automatically appear live in the app for any user that has Business App open, page-reloading is not required. Users can also receive an instant notification email when a new message comes in, or a daily digest email. In the future, other notification types will become available.
Will I, or my clients, be charged for using this?
- Not at this time. We are providing no cost use of SMS Messaging in Inbox to our early adopters. In the near future, we will be restricting free sent messages to 100 per month, with the option to purchase additional messaging tiers.
How does a business know when they’ve reached their SMS limits?
- Currently, the app does not provide any indication of how many messages you’ve sent. We will be adding message counting in the near future.
Will this use up messages from Customer Voice credits?
- Not at this time. In the future, Inbox and Customer Voice will utilize the same credit bundle. However, currently these are separate, and the SMS phone number in Customer Voice is different as well.
What countries are supported?
- Businesses located in USA and Canada can use SMS Messaging. This feature is not yet available in other countries.