Note: This feature is available at an additional cost of $0.03 USD (one credit) per message per recipient in the US and Canada. The service is also available in Australia for SMS only (no voice broadcast features), but at a slightly higher cost of $0.08 USD per credit and an additional monthly fee.
Credits must be purchased prior to the use of this feature. Because this service incurs additional fees, you must be logged into the "Account Owner" (admin) profile whenever you purchase credits. Replies are not available.
To set up this service for the first time, go to Settings > Setup > General Settings > SMS & Voice. You must have payment information on file in your iClassPro account to set up a number and purchase credits for messaging. (Payment information can be entered under SETTINGS>BILLING INFORMATION.)
Voice Broadcast Eligibility
All customers at all numbers (US and Canada) are eligible to receive a recorded voice broadcast, making this the most sure-fire way to send out your messages. But if a customer misses the call, it can be nice to have a text message they can read later.
Since text messages cost money not only to send, but to receive (carrier costs), customers must voluntarily opt into this service. Normally, we recommend sending out an email blast, adding an announcement or posting a notice in your facility to inform customers that they can opt-in to receiving these messages from inside the parent portal. This can be done by logging into the portal, editing their family information and selecting Yes for text messages next to their text compatible phone numbers (Seen below).
With consent, a staff member can also make these changes inside of the staff side of iClassPro from within a family or another staff member's record. (Depending on laws in your area, you may want to get consent in writing.)
To insert additional phone number fields, all customers must be updated using the Family Template under Settings > Setup > Family Settings > Family Template.
Consider Updating Your Policies
Businesses that use Voice Broadcast and SMS may get several questions about how the SMS tool will be utilized. We highly recommend outlining policies for your staff about how and why SMS may be used to communicate with customers. Once this is decided, relay this information to your customers in the Family Policies (Settings>Family Policies) section so that customers can review that information before signing up to receive messages.
Sending Out Messages
After enabling text messages on the family's page and purchasing SMS credits, the process is relatively simple.
From the family, students or staff page, use filters to narrow your search results to the intended recipients of the message.Select recipients by checking the box next to their names or by using the Select all box at the top of the page next to the column titles.
Once the customers are selected, click either the SMS/Text icon (left) or the Voice Broadcast icon (right) at the bottom of the screen.
SMS/Text Messaging Instructions:
A new window will now appear titled Send SMS Message. From here, you can enter the message you would like to send to the selected customers. This window will detail:
- # of SMS messages being sent - which represents the number of customer phone numbers out of those selected that have enabled this feature.
- # of SMS Credits - the number of credits available from prior purchases to send this message (if there are not enough credits to send the message to the selected group, you will also see a red notification).
- __ of 160 characters left - one standard text message is limited to 160 characters.
A standard text message is limited to 160 characters. One message to one recipient at or under this limit will cost one credit ($0.03 USD).
After composing your message, click Send.
Our automated system will begin sending out the messages. Each successful message sent will create an entry in your audit log, similar to the one below:
The messaging system in iClassPro only works one way. There is not a capability to receive messages back from customers through the SMS/Voice number.
Unsubscribing/Resubscribing from SMS by Text
However, customers can reply to the number to subscribe or unsubscribe. To unsubscribe after receiving a message, the customer can reply with "Stop", "Unsubscribe", "Cancel", "End" or "Quit". To resubscribe after stopping messages, a customer can reply to the number with "Start", "Yes" or "Unstop".
Voice Broadcast Instructions:
Another window will appear asking for your phone number. Enter a phone number where you can be reached directly and you will receive a phone call from the Voice Broadcast System. Say "hello" when you answer the call to initiate the instructions which will walk you through completing the call.
To minimize costs, we recommend scripting the message you are sending beforehand, keeping it short and minimizing the amount of time it takes to answer and complete the call for the recording.
With Voice Broadcasting, there are two credit fees involved in completing the process:
- One credit is spent for each minute spent on the automated phone call in which you record the outgoing message.
- Voice broadcasts cost one credit per minute per recipient, so if you record a two minute long message, you will pay 2 credits per phone number that is dialed.
Once you hang up from your recorded call, your messages will be sent through the automated system.