Key takeaways

  • Understanding SMS
  • Working with the asynchronous nature of texting
  • Tracking the Reply Message

The Backstory

Zipwhip’s texting solutions provides businesses the ability to communicate using the medium that their customers most prefer: text messaging. Text messaging is built on SMS (Short Message Service), which uses standard communication protocols to text enable mobile devices. Text messaging is a unique medium: it is both asynchronous and unstructured. The social rules around texting are equally loose: SMS is not chat, and users are not held captive to their screens.

The conversational aspect of texting maximizes customer engagement with your business. Employees can efficiently and effectively handle multiple text conversations with different customers synchronously. Gone are the days when employees were forced to handle a single telephone call at a time.

The Problem

The flexibility of conversational texting adds some complexity when handling programmatic interactions. When you go to handle customer messages programmatically, you cannot definitively identify the message to which the customer is replying. For example, assume that you run a recruiting company (Zipwhip Staffing) and two of your recruiters send separate and distinct opportunities via text message to a single Candidate. When the Candidate replies to one of the messages, does Recruiter A or Recruiter B receive the alert that a reply has been received? The inbound message (reply) contains no metadata that links the message to a specific outbound message, recruiter, or job posting.

You can use the solutions suggested for each case independently or together to solve your specific business needs. For additional support, please contact api@zipwhip.com.

 

Use case 1: multiple senders, single receiver, and multiple messages

At Zipwhip Recruiting, Recruiter 1 and Recruiter 2 each send a text message to Candidate A. Each text message sent to Candidate A includes a separate and distinct job opportunity.

Recruiter 1 Sends: Hi John. Interested in an HR Manager position available at a local startup? Reply L if you want a link to the job description. Have a great afternoon!

Recruiter 2 Sends: Hi John. Interested in an HR Manager position available at a Fortune-100 company? Reply L if you want a link to the job description. Have a great afternoon!

John replies by sending L. Does he want a link to the startup job or the Fortune 100 job?

Use case 1 solution

Text Enable Each Recruiter’s Landline: The easiest and best solution for this use case is to text enable each recruiters existing landline telephone number. When each Recruiter sends out a job posting, then Candidate A receives a distinct message from Recruiter A and Recruiter B.

You can enhance this solution by using reply ‟codes” in each message. For example, a recruiter could send a message that has multiple reply options.

Recruiter 1 Sends: Hi John. Interested in an HR Manager position available at a local startup? Reply L for a link to the job description, C for a quick call, or N for not interested. Have a great afternoon!

Use case 2: single sender, single receiver, and multiple messages

At Zipwhip Recruiting, Recruiter 1 uses the job-management software to match Candidate A with appropriate job postings. Recruiter 1 finds two opportunities that match Candidate A’s skill set and sends the following text messages to the Candidate A:

Job Posting 1: Hi Jane. Interested in Sr. Software Engineer position available at a local startup? Reply C if you’re curious about the position and would like to learn more. Have a great afternoon!

Job Posting 2: Hi Jane. Interested in Sr. Software Engineer position available at a Fortune-100 company? Reply C if you’re curious about the position and would like to learn more. Have a great afternoon!

Jane replies by sending C. Is Jane curious about the local startup job or Fortune-100 job?

Use case 2 solutions

Send Multiple Messages With Different Calls To Action: One method you can use to differentiate/identify replies is to send multiple messages regarding the same job posting, but use a different reply ‟code” in each message. This is not as foolproof a solution as text enabling each recruiter’s landline phone, but it does reduce the chaos. However, the downside is that it can double or triple the number of messages received by candidates.

For example, Recruiter 1 could send Jane two separate messages for Job Posting 1.

Message 1: Hi Jane. Interested in Sr. Software Engineer position available at a local startup? Reply C if you’re curious about the position and would like to learn more. Have a great afternoon!

Message 2: Thanks Jane. Here’s a link to the job description. After you review, reply A if you’re available for a quick call, reply T to keep texting, or N if you’re not interested. Thanks!

Time Heals All (Sometimes): Another method you can use to differentiate/identify replies is the time between when a message is sent and a reply is received. When an inbound message is received, Zipwhip can provide delivery receipts that confirm that your text enabled handset received an incoming message.

Statistics show that 98% of text messages are read within three minutes of receipt, and 45% of these messages receive a reply (from 15 Stats That Prove Every Business Needs To Start Texting).

This means that you can rely on most inbound messages being replies to recent outbound messages. For example, if Jane replies by sending a C and the inbound message is received five minutes after Recruiter 1 sent Message 1 to Jane, then there is a reasonably high probability that the inbound message is meant for Recruiter 1. Depending on the business rules that you specify, if a candidate does not respond to a message within 24 hours, then the reply can be considered a new inbound message and not a reply.

When all else fails, embrace the chaos

If you cannot implement one of the solutions described above, then you can “duplicate everything” and use your business rules, workflows, and employee experience to sort-out the chaos. This solution works only if the business rules around customer communication allow duplicate messages.

For example, if you apply the “duplicate” strategy to Use Case 1, when John replies by sending L, then duplicate John’s reply and send a copy to both Recruiter 1 and Recruiter 2. When both recruiters receive the reply, they use the available tools and their own skills to decide which job John is interested in learning about.

Alan Capps

Alan Capps

Alan Capps is a Solutions Engineer at Zipwhip. Zipwhip compliments their software with an API to extend the power of texting. Alan works with customers to implement full-feature texting solutions that blend the power of conversational texting and automated messaging.
Alan Capps