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Mar 31

Written by: host
3/31/2011 10:15 AM  RssIcon

Text Messaging, also known as TXT or SMS (Short Message Service) is one of the most popular methods of communication today. HAIRLINKSQL has this service built-in FREE and we highly recommend that you use it as much as possible. Not convinced? Let’s see some of the advantages; then we can go through how it is used throughout the program with feedback from users.

Why use TXT Messaging?

1. Revenue earning opportunities
SMS messaging can be used in many ways to generate revenue for your business. To name just a few you can contact clients quickly and directly for same day specials, reduce no shows by requesting confirmations and increase client retention with 'Thank You' and 'Happy Birthday' messages. SMS can also be used for counter offers. Eg. A competitor may list an item at a cheaper price than you. Using an SMS message you can quickly contact clients with your updated price to prevent losing business.

2. Cost savings
The cost to send an SMS message is 21.9 cents. When you send out thousands of messages the cost savings compared with traditional forms of communications quickly becomes apparent. As a general industry standard, a letter will cost around $1.50 to send. This includes 50 cents for a stamp plus the cost of envelopes, paper, letterheads, toner for the printer and the most valuable resource of all, staff time.

3. Telephone Tag
Phoning mobiles becomes even more expensive when you have leave messages and they call back and you are unavailable, and so on

4. Save Time and Increase Staff Productivity
Using SMS messaging will also better utilise a staff members time to make them more productive. Why waste hours phoning individual clients, checking incoming emails for appointment confirmations or folding letters for your monthly specials. With SMS, one click of a button and the job is done. Your staff member can now spend their time doing more productive tasks like serving clients.

5. No Spam Filtering
An SMS message is not subject to any spamming filters, so unless a client blocks your number the message will reach its destination. An email on the other hand is subject to spamming filters applied by your ISP and your individual business. Anything that looks like it could be spam could be picked up and not reach the client it was intended for even though it is a legitimate message.

6. Discretion
An SMS message is less intrusive form of communication with clients. Customers are able to view an SMS message at their leisure rather than disturbing them during an important business meeting or when driving a car. SMS messages are also usually saved on the phone so a client can always check back if they forget an appointment time.

7. Accuracy
An SMS message is there in black and white so there are fewer distractions compared to other channels, like background noise disrupting phone calls. This is particularly important when interpreting important information.

8. Succinct Messaging
People accept and expect that SMS messages are short and to the point. Most messages, such as a booking message can be articulated in one 160-character message. This makes writing or reading a SMS message much easier and faster than a similar message set up as a letter or email.

9. Mass Communication
The same SMS message can be broadcast to thousands of customers at the touch of a button. HairlinkSQL can also save how a client prefers to be contacted, if they don't like receiving SMS they will not receive one in a bulk broadcast.

10. Modern
Clients like to see they are visiting a business that is modern and using the latest technology to provide them with the best possible service. Using SMS messaging to communicate with clients will put your business in this light.

11. Almost Instant
TXTs are almost instant; receivers don’t have to be at their desk in front of a computer and your communication does not have to be recorded to be accessed later. Imagine this scenario: this afternoon’s diary looks empty with staff fully rostered? Mail Merged letters won’t get there on time! A TXT :Special Offer” will!

12. No Time Pressure
Unlike a phone conversation, the recipient is not under pressure to make an immediate decision, especially when busy and when the time is “not appropriate”.

13.Must Read
TXT Messages are always read as they pop up as soon as they arrive or as soon as the phone is turned back on.

Examples of Using SMS Within HairlinkSQL
 
If you use HAIRLINKSQL and do not use TXT Messaging then you are missing out big time. All the integrated functionality is free within HAIRLINKSQL – you just have to pay for the TXTs that you use. To have made this an optional module would have signalled that only some people may want to use this mode of communication; we believe this type of feature is mandatory in modern software today. In our opinion, EVERYONE should be using this functionality – if not for all that is described below then only those that make sense to achieve your goals and those that fit in with your business plan. Let’s see how you can use SMS messaging within HAIRLINKSQL to increase productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Note: Before you panic about sending TXT Messages to people without phones or people who do not want TXT Messages, the application has a per-client option list that you can tick/un-tick. Each client can select the mode(s) of communication that they prefer for various contact reasons such as Appointments, Reminders, Mailers, etc, and HAIRLINKSQL will recognise that setting for bulk broadcasts.

Audit Trail: All TXTs sent are logged automatically into each client/staff members Document Manager thereby providing a full audit trail. There is also a special report that allows full analysis of each type of communication, including TXT messages.

Appointment Reminders with Auto Confirmation
It would be hard to disagree that clients that are late to appointments or those that do not show up present a major problem in terms of time management for staff. Phoning each and every client is intrusive not to mention extremely time consuming. Once you add staff resources (valuable staff time) and phone bills to mobiles, you may agree that it all starts to sound a little inefficient and adds a significant cost to the business. Leaving messages with clients calling back also takes up phone lines not to mention disrupting staff at unscheduled times during the day. There has to be a better and more structured approach to this problem – we really want a “set and forget” approach so staff can concentrate on more productive work at hand. Enter Automated Appointment Confirmations.

Automated Appointment Confirmations
A special function in the diary system allows sending of bulk mail-merged TXT messages to everyone (who prefers that mode of communication) on a particular day with a REPLY REQUEST function. An appointment reminder will end with “Pls reply Y to confirm” (text can be customised). Once a client replies “Y”, the appointment will automatically, and without human interaction, confirm the appointment in question and colour-code it accordingly!

So, what happens if the client replies with something other than a Y or Yes....let’s say, “Sorry can I come in at 3pm instead of 2pm?” If a client replies anything other than a Y or Yes, the appointment colour will turn to a “copper” colour, and have a mobile phone icon in the appointment box, to indicate a reply other than a confirmation. The user is then able to right click on that appointment and view the entire TXT message sent back. When the appointment is moved by a user, a prompt will automatically ask the user to accept one of three options:

(1) Reply to the client with the new appointment details and ask to re-reply to confirm,
(2) Reply to the client with the new appointment details but DO NOT ask to reconfirm (this scenario may indicate that they may have accepted the new time already)
(3) Do nothing. This may indicate that the appointment was moved over a phone conversation

OK. That’s great but how do we cover off all those other people who have appointments, but either don’t have mobile phones, or do not want to receive TXTs for their appointments? This is also catered for. When you select “Appointment Confirmations” from the top menu, the day displayed on the screen is used. A tabbed window will appear – each tab will have a list – one for phone calls, one for emails, and one for TXT Messages. This allows the user to cover off everyone on that day’s appointment list.

All possible scenarios are taken care of for the user. 

 

 

 

Thank You / Happy Birthday
Retaining clients is an integral part of any business as it maintains a steady source of income. A Thank You or Happy Birthday SMS message shows empathy towards your clients and by contacting people you are keeping your business at the front of people’s minds. Note: Check out the tip in the March Monthly newsletter as this can be fully automated.

Monthly Special
Specials are great way of getting people to visit your business. Sending out SMS specials will by pass any spam filter problems you have with email and save time and money by not sending out letters.

 

Fill the Book
In most businesses there are going to be times when you are not busy. Using SMS you can quickly fill the diary by sending out a Special Offer. For example, when you look at the diary for tomorrow  you might notice it is not very busy. You could then send out a SMS message with a large discount on Make Overs or offers such as 'Free Mini Facial'.

Counter Offers
SMS messages are also an effective means of providing instant counter offers to competitors specials. For example, you may notice a competitor has a special promotion. With SMS you can quickly negate their offer by sending an INSTANT SMS message with your counter offer. A letter that would reach the clientin a couple of days would be too late.

TXTs to Staff
Staff members can also be sent TXT Messages. They can be sent all their appointments and messages for the day by TXT! Ad Hoc messages may also be sent similar to clients as and when required. The advantage is that these messages are logged and can be reviewed. In addition to sending messages, you can also start a TXT THREAD with a staff member. A thread is an on-going conversation able to be viewed on one screen.

Ad Hoc Texts
At any stage, you are able to send out an ad-hoc TXT to a client or staff member. You can do this either by right-clicking on an appointment and using “Custom Message” or you can go to the client record and send out a TXT using the Document Manager Tab. This can be a useful and cheap form of communication between the clinic and clients.   

 

For more information on configuring and using SMS please download the SMS chapter from the HAIRlinkSQL Manual by clicking here. 

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