Frequently Asked Questions

General

How can Customer Messaging help my business?

The ways in which your business communicates with your customers is changing. You need to stay connected. Today, business owners must offer customers newer ways to receive updates, promotions,and reminders and send requests/confirmations back to your business. Text messaging is immediate. It ensures that 100% of your Promotional messages will get to your customers to alert them of special deals or offers. Customer Messaging pays for itself, with just a few additional customer visits per month.

If your business sells a Product, Customer Messaging will enable you to bring your customers in more often. It gives you the ability to send Group or Individual On-Demand Text, Text to Voice or Email Promotions during slow periods, holidays or anytime, .It even gives you the option to receive orders via Text to your business.

If you are a Service business, you can bring your customers back in on time for their next scheduled service appointment or send them a reminder when it’s time to re-book or reschedule. In addition, it gives your customers the ability to Confirm or request an appointment via Text . This improves your businesses cash flow, helps even out your staff’s workload.

Customer Messaging enables your business to build a long-term relationship with your customers. Your business has its own local area code XXX-XXXX 7 Digit number, which customers can store in their phones

Who would benefit from using Customer Messaging?

Below are types of businesses sending Text Informational/Promotional Messaging and appointment Reminders

  • Restaurants, Pizzerias, Bars, Car Wash, Café’s, Ice Cream/Yogurt, Doughnut Shops
  • Medical Practices (MD, Pediatrician, Surgeon, Specialist, Chiropractors, Dentist, Optometrist)
  • Homecare and Consulting Staffing Agencies
  • Sporting Activities (e.g. Send Results, Venue Changes)
  • Salons (e.g. Hair, Nail…)
  • Dog Groomers, Veterinarian
  • Non-Profits, Personal Trainers, Spa, Gym and Physical Therapy Facilities
  • School, College, Library and Local, State, Government Agencies (Send out Notifications)
  • Dealership Service Departments, Mechanic, Auto Body Repair Shop
  • Retail Stores
  • Distributors of goods or services

What are some of the key features included with the Customer Messaging service?

  • Access and manage your account from any web-enabled device.
  • Dedicated local Telephone Number with your choice of area code.
  • Dedicated Appointment Scheduling and Messaging calendars let you manage appointment reminders and notifications or announcements separately.
  • Send and Receive messages and reminders using TEXT, Voice, Text-to-Voice or Email delivery methods.
  • Create and manage customer groups for distribution of messages to multiple customers at the same time.
  • Import your existing customer list.
  • Send instantly or schedule future and recurring messages.
  • Create custom reminder message templates that can be used for reminders and marketing or promotional campaigns to new or existing customers.
  • TEXT inbox allows for 2-Way TEXT communication between you and your customers.
  • Forward inbound TEXT or Voice Calls to other telephone numbers.
  • Follow industry standard Opt-in and Opt-out functions such as STOP, START, BLOCK and CANCEL. Note: Customer Messaging customer is responsible for entering Opt-in/Opt-out notifications as needed.
  • TEXT messages containing over 160 Characters (industry standard for maximum number of characters in a TEXT) are automatically split into 2 or more TEXT messages.
  • View account usage summary in real-time to see how many messages were sent and received for the current month and even previous months.
  • Clean and simple user interface.
  • Customer Messaging is still growing, we have many new and exciting features planned for future releases.

Is it legal for my business or organization to send TEXT, Voice an Email messages?

Generally speaking, if you have a pre-existing relationship with a customer, patient, patron etc., you are legally permitted to contact them regarding relevant issues. However, we advise that you check with the FCC guidelines in your state to make sure.

(Reference: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/spam-unwanted-text-messages-and-email)

Does Customer Messaging support STOP, BLOCK, and CANCEL in accordance with industry standards?

Yes. Customer Messaging will handle the following messages in accordance with industry standards below. In a future release of Customer Messaging, there will be a feature allowing you to manually manage and view the Opt status of your customers.

  • STOP, UNSUBSCRIBE, CANCEL, and QUIT will stop customers from receiving messages from your Customer Messaging number.
  • START and YES will opt customers back in to the messages coming from your Customer Messaging phone number
  • HELP will return a message informing the customer that they can use the above commands to control the delivery of messages.

Are appointment reminders allowed under the HIPPA Privacy Rule without patient authorizations?

Yes. Appointment reminders are considered part of treatment of an individual and, therefore, can be made without an authorization.

(Reference: http://www.hhs.gov/hipaafaq/providers/smaller/286.html)

May physician’s offices or pharmacists leave messages for patients at their homes, either on an answering machine or with a family member, to remind them of appointments or to inform them that a prescription is ready? May providers continue to mail appointment or prescription refill reminders to patient’s homes?

Yes. The HIPAA Privacy Rule permits health care providers to communicate with patients regarding their health care. This includes communicating with patients at their homes, whether through the mail or by phone or in some other manner. In addition, the Rule does not prohibit covered entities from leaving messages for patients on their answering machines. However, to reasonably safeguard the individual's privacy, covered entities should take care to limit the amount of information disclosed on the answering machine. For example, a covered entity might want to consider leaving only its name and number and other information necessary to confirm an appointment, or ask the individual to call back.

A covered entity also may leave a message with a family member or other person who answers the phone when the patient is not home. The Privacy Rule permits covered entities to disclose limited information to family members, friends, or other persons regarding an individual's care, even when the individual is not present. However, covered entities should use professional judgment to assure that such disclosures are in the best interest of the individual and limit the information disclosed. See 45 CFR 164.510(b)(3).

In situations where a patient has requested that the covered entity communicate with him in a confidential manner, such as by alternative means or at an alternative location, the covered entity must accommodate that request, if reasonable. For example, the Department considers a request to receive mailings from the covered entity in a closed envelope rather than by postcard to be a reasonable request that should be accommodated. Similarly, a request to receive mail from the covered entity at a post office box rather than at home, or to receive calls at the office rather than at home are also considered to be reasonable requests, absent extenuating circumstances. See 45 CFR 164.522(b).

(Reference: http://www.hhs.gov/hipaafaq/providers/smaller/198.html)

Can I change the Caller-ID for sending TEXT messages or Voice calls?

Due to anti-spam regulations, the number a user sees when you send an TEXT using your application must be the same number associated with your Customer Messaging account. So, it’s not possible to use a non Customer Messaging number as you’re Caller-ID for non-Customer. This differs from voice calls, where it is possible to display a verified caller ID other than your Customer Messaging number. This feature will be available in a future release.

Features and Navigation

Settings Page

What is Time Zone?

If Text, Appointments or Emails are not being sent out based on their schedule time, please check the Time Zone Setting is correct for your region.. This is the time zone that will be applied to all messages and scheduling for your account.

What are the Email Settings?

When sending email messages you can specify the From Email Address and From Display Name. The From Email address is where any responses to your email messages will be sent. The From Display Name allows you specify a custom From Name for all your email messages. This is what recipients will see as the sender when receiving any emails from your account.

What is Session Timeout?

This indicates the amount of time, in minutes, you can be idle while logged in before the session expires and the system logs you out. This is a configurable security feature.

What are the calendar views used for?

This section lets you decide which calendar views are available while on the main page. You can choose up to 3 views including a default view. Clicking on the day, week or month buttons on the main page located to the right of the month can activate any of the three view choices you selected.

Account Page

Account Details

List of your current contact information including your Customer Messaging account phone number. This is the phone number others will see when receiving TEXT or Voice messages from your account. The preferred area code is the area code you requested when signing up for the service. In a future release, you will be able to request a new area code and phone number by simply entering a new area code.

What is Account Usage?

Here you can view your account usage for up to 3 months. By clicking on “View detailed usage info” you can view specific messages and their details, which are helpful when troubleshooting any issues.

Billing Page

This page lets you add or modify your existing credit card details.

Messages Tab

Schedule a Message

This brings you to the main messaging page where you can schedule or send TEXT, Voice and Email messages. *Appointment scheduling and Reminders are managed from the Appointments tab noted below.* Here, you can send messages to a single recipient, multiple recipients or even multiple recipients using a preconfigured customer group.

You can also select when the message should be sent and whether or not you would like to send recurring messages or just send the message now.

Select one or all three types of messages to send (TEXT, Voice or Email) simply by selecting the checkbox next to the type of message you would like to send. Any TEXT over 160 characters is split up into two or more TEXT. There is no limit on the length of your email or duration of your Voice recordings.

Note: The Customer Messaging application is designed to check a messaging queue every minute for messages that need to be sent out. This means that if you schedule a message to be sent “now”, it may take up to a minute for the message to be picked up by the messaging service and delivered.

Manage Message Templates

Message Templates provide a means to create and save messages that can be used multiple times in the future without having to re-write them. You can also use message templates to send the same message to numerous recipients.

Manage Voice Messages

Here you can manage settings related to Voice messages and also listen to or delete any messages you may have already recorded.

The PIN is a 4-digit number used to access the voice-recording menu from your phone. Without the PIN you will not be able to record new Voice messages.

In order to record a new Voice message, you need to call your Customer Messaging phone number from an authorized phone number. To authorize a phone number, enter your personal or office phone number in the “Phone numbers from which you can record voice messages” field. The phone number(s) you enter here will be the numbers you can call from when you want to record a Voice message. Then, simply call your Customer Messaging phone number from one of the telephone numbers you provided and enter your 4-digit PIN when prompted. Once you are connected, just follow the simple directions to record a new message. When you are finished recording a message you will be provided with a voice message ID that will identify the message you have recorded. Use this ID when scheduling a Message or Appointment Reminder to properly identify the voice message you would like to send.

You can authorize as many telephone numbers as you like.

You will be charged per minute for your call every time you record a message. Listening to a recorded message from your browser is free.

TEXT and Call Forward Settings

To enable call forwarding, enter a single phone number in the “Call Forward Phone Number” field. Now, any telephone calls placed to your Customer Messaging phone number will be forwarded to this number. Note that you will be charged twice for any forwarded calls – once for the inbound call to your Customer Messaging number and once for the outbound call forwarded to the number you specified.

You can also forward any inbound TEXT messages to other phone numbers. Simply add the phone number of any mobile device (or any device which can receive TEXT messages) in the “TEXT Forward Phone Number” field. Now, whenever an TEXT is received in your Inbox, it will also be forwarded to the numbers you specified here. You can add as many phone numbers as you like. Note that you will be charged twice for any forwarded TEXT messages – once for the received TEXT and once for the forwarded TEXT. If you have forwarding configured with multiple telephone numbers, you will be charged once for each additional number an TEXT is forwarded to.

Appointments Tab

Schedule an Appointment

This brings you to the main Appointment scheduling and reminder page where you can schedule appointments and send TEXT, Voice, Text-to-Voice and Email messages as reminders. Any appointments or scheduled reminders (messages) saved in this calendar are not associated with scheduled messages in the "Messages" calendar.

When scheduling an appointment you can set the Appointment Name, Appointment Location and Select which users' calendar the appointment should be applied to. These fields can be used later when scheduling a reminder to automatically fill in the message body of your reminder message. Then, you can select the start time of the appointment and decide whether it will be recurring or not. The duration of the appointment can also be set.

Note that you can create as many calendar profiles as you like to be used in the appointment-scheduling calendar, using the "Manage Users" section. This will provide a means for individuals to manage their own schedules and reminders using the same Customer Messaging account.

If you would like to setup a reminder for the appointment you are scheduling, check the "I want to setup a reminder" box, which will drop down the reminder options. The reminder must be sent in advance to the appointment and you can select when that is done using values set in minutes, hours or days.

Select Attendees lets you choose who to sent the appointment reminder to. You can choose one or multiple recipients or use a previously created customer group.

Select Reminder Type lets you choose the type of reminder you would like to use when reminding you patient or customer of the appointment. You can select one or more of the available reminder methods. When sending TEXT, Text-to-Voice or Email reminder, you can automatically insert a few of the appointment details into the reminder message body. Options include the recipients first name which will automatically include the first name of each recipient of the reminder. You can also insert appointment name, appointment location, appointment start and appointment end time into the reminder. Remember, you can create appointment templates to quickly create a message body and to standardize your appointment reminder messages making appoinment scheduling much easier.

Manage Appointment Templates

Appointment Templates provide a means to create and save message bodies that can be used multiple times in the future without having to re-write them.

Manage Calendars

Here you can create numerous profiles for users of the the appointment calendar. You can create individual users, select a color for the users appointments to be displayed in the Appointment calendar and decide whether or not you want their appointments to be displayed in the Appointment calendar. You can also decide which users' appointments you want to view from the main page of the Appointments calendar using the "Choose calendars to view" button on the top right of the calendar.

Customers Tab

Manage Customers

Here you can import, view, edit and delete customers. You can also sort customers by Last Name, First Name, Mobile Phone Number and Email Address.

Currently Customer Messaging support importing of customers using Outlook CSV format. If you are using Gmail you can follow a few simple steps to export you Gmail contacts into Outlook CSV format which is supported by Customer Messaging. Gmail Export Contacts Directions

If you use Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL or any other software for your storing your customers and would like to import into Customer Messaging you can first import your customers into Gmail and then export to the standard Outlook CSV file format supported by Customer Messaging. Export customers from other email providers, into Gmail

If you find the above steps too complicated or confusing please send us an email and we will be glad to help!

By clicking on the “View” link of a particular customer, you will be brought to a new page where you can view customer details as well as modify any of the fields. You can also add notes, view the last 10 sent messages and add the customer to a new or existing customer group. By clicking on the “Schedule a message” link at the top, you will be redirected to the message-scheduling page where you can quickly create a new message to be sent for the given customer.

Manage Customer Groups

Here you can view, edit and delete customer groups. Customer groups allow you to send messages in bulk to numerous recipients. By clicking on the “View” link of a specific customer group, you will be able to edit the customer group name as well as add or remove customers from the group. By clicking on the “Schedule a message” link at the top, you will be redirected to the message scheduling page where you can quickly create a new message to be sent for the given customer group.

Inbox Tab

This is where any TEXT messages sent to your Customer Messaging phone number will appear. Any responses to TEXT messages you have sent out previously will also appear here. Use "Reply" to quickly respond to an TEXT in your Inbox!

Billing and Accounts

How does Customer Messaging pricing work?

Your credit card will be charged at the beginning of each month for the previous months plan charge, plus additional Text or Voice usage above the plan (if required). Current and previous month’s usage can be viewed from the Accounts section once you login, so you can easily keep track of your messages. There are no setup fees or contracts. You will be charged a fixed minimum monthly amount at the time of sign-up Additional Text and Voice messages will be billed, if usage exceeds you plan. This amount is based on your specific plan.

How is my bill calculated?

Customer Messaging keeps track of your monthly TEXT message and Voice minute usage. Email Non-Reply Promotional Messages are Free of charge. If your Text or Voice usage goes over your monthly plan an additional 5 cents per Text or Voice Call will be added to the monthly plan price.

How do I cancel my account?

Though we would hate to see you go, we understand and appreciate your business. To cancel your account simply send an email to support@customermessaging.com including your full name and account telephone number and we will take care of the rest. Alternatively, call us toll free at 1-866-996-3772 and press 1 for sales.