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Keep up to date with current news and highlights from the SMS industry
month 05
day 30
year 2017

How RCS can change business communication

Ever since Google acquired Jibe, the term Rich Communication Service (RCS) has gained a lot of attention in the telecommunication sector. Earlier this year, Google launched an early access program which invited messaging solution providers and mobile operators to join them in shaping the roadmap and future standards of RCS.

The program has already sparked the keen interest of major brands like Virgin Train, Philips, Subway and Uber who all joined the program in its early stages ready to adopt RCS into their communications channels.

In a previous post we discussed what RCS is, this time we explore further features of RCS, and how businesses can make use of it to enhance customer service and better engage customers.

Optimising the brand

RCS’ capacity for branding enables messages to be enhanced using a company’s brand colour palette and logo. Mixed media, such as photos and videos can also be attached without the need for download using rich “app-like” cards.

Use to send information such as: e-commerce orders, taxi journeys, digital receipts, offers and promotions etc. This allows recipients to be able to access key information without exiting the message app.

Seamless interactions with recipients

Geolocation is another great feature that businesses can benefit from for further convenience. Take the example of our taxi booking in our infographic below where recipient can track the whereabouts of their booked vehicle in real time, choosing to change the pickup location at any point.   

What does RCS messaging looks like?

Our infographic below illustrates how businesses can make use of the unique features of RCS to enhance business communication. We will continue to watch the development of RCS and post more updates on new features and usages.

Rich Communication Services (RCS)

 

month 05
day 26
year 2017

4 ways to create memorable & strong passwords

Creating strong and secure passwords

Passwords, together with email and social media, are listed as three of the biggest cyber security threats to Australian Businesses. While passwords are, indeed, the safeguards to our online world and for most of us, our identity, it appears the safety of them can often be a cause for concern as discussed in our previous blog post.

With technology moving forwards, it is very likely in coming months and years  we will have even more passwords to remember than ever before.

With this in mind we provide 4 top tips to create memorable and strong passwords:

1. Use a memorable phrase

One easy way is to think of a phrase or a saying that means something to you and preferably, only you. It will need to be of at least 8 characters, 12 would be better, but not too long that it becomes hard to remember. To make it even more secure, replace one word with a misspelt word to your phrase to make it even harder to crack.

2. Combinations of random words

Xkcd suggested using four or even more random words to create a mental image that is unique to you. The visual will make it easy for you to remember the combination, and the randomness will make it very difficult to hack.

3. Don’t overcomplicate things  

Of course, something like G&^)O;x3&!@=hN73-z would certainly pass any password security test. But what are the chances of you actually remembering this (writing it down doesn’t count…)? And don’t forget the first rule of password security – use a different one for each account you have. So remembering say, 20 of them? Are you still in?  

4. Human password generator

One problem with modern passwords is that the combinations of characters, numbers and symbols are incredibly hard for humans to remember. But with a little help you may be able to harness this. Establishing a certain rule or pattern that incorporates the name of the website you are logging in with some random words and symbols can prove to be very helpful. All you need to remember is one pattern, and you will have as many unique passwords as you need for each and every account you need to safeguard.

Lastly, don’t forget to check the strength of your password methodology before applying across your accounts.

month 05
day 19
year 2017

The inconvenient truth about grey routing

Grey_routing

If you are scratching your head right now, wondering what is meant by the term “grey routing,” then rest assured that you are not alone.

But we’re about to change that…

Earlier this year we ran a survey which suggested that more than 80% of our website visitors were unfamiliar with the term, and as such the risks associated with its use.

So what is grey routing?

Grey routing refers to the practice of disguising business SMS as personal SMS using international networks intended for person to person (P2P) communications to deliver the messages.

In doing so, providers get the benefit of avoiding charges that would usually apply to business SMS (also known as application to person A2P).

With many security risks to data and message content as well as no guarantee of delivery or when your message will arrive, grey routing does have its drawbacks for those who opt for a grey route provider.

Tempted? Ask yourself the right questions

While low price messages can appear tempting, is the compromise to quality worth the risk?

In our survey conducted earlier this year, we asked about the impact low price or quality connections had when choosing an SMS provider. Only 24.5% of respondents chose low price over messages security and reliability.

If you value the messages being sent and your recipients data and want to learn more then our latest eBook “What is grey routing?”  provides an in-depth analysis.

month 05
day 16
year 2017

Moving towards customer satisfaction based incentive schemes

customer satisfaction based incentives

Not long after the forceful removal of a passenger from its aircraft earlier this year, United Airlines announced its plans to link employees’ incentives with customer satisfaction levels. While a rather extreme example of how a bad incident can lead to improvements in service, this metric should be considered when determining the levels of staff reward.

And United Airlines are not alone in their move toward customer focused KPIs.   

Late last year, financial services provider, Westpac removed all product-related incentives for bank’s tellers and chose to implement an incentive scheme using customer feedback based on the quality of service received.

As of last month the ANZ Banking Group also overhauled its rewards scheme for employees opting for an incentive plan which focused on satisfaction instead of sales volumes. (source).

In fact, a recent report reviewing the Australian retail banking remuneration system urges more banks to adopt the same approach – moving away from sales-based incentives to customer-focused metrics which can help avoid scandals and fraud.

But are we measuring the customer-focused metrics right?

While some of the biggest banks have been trying to move from a sales to service culture, some staff members, feel sceptical about the change.

Those interviewed in the issue report reflected that measurements on their performance were still largely dependant  upon the sales figures and monetary value suggesting that while it’s no longer called “sales” but “helping customers” it still reflected conversions.

One of the key issues is that when measuring customer-center metrics, many banks simply don’t have the data, so end up repurposing financial objectives.

For instance in order to measure if staff were able to identify customers’ needs, they were measured by the number of products cross or upsold. As one staff member pointed out concierge metrics were not based on conversations but on branch sales.’   

So for banks and their staff members to be able to truly embrace the change, more effort and devotions are needed in each organisation to develop a set of metrics that truly reflect the customer experience.

Measuring customer experience on the entire journey

An article from the Harvard Business Review named The Truth About Customer Experience highlighted the importance of companies measuring customers’ experience during their end to end journey, rather than only focusing on certain touch points.

This is especially applicable to the service industry. Looking at banks as an example, one customer might feel very different six months after opening an account compared to the moment when they completed the application.

By surveying the customer periodically allows them time to really experience and understand the product or service, hence to form a more comprehensive view towards that. A more systematic and long term measuring scheme is therefore needed in order to establish a holistic view of how customers feel towards the brand and their service.

The tool to collect data

Collecting customer feedback is crucial for any organisation who wish to adopt customer satisfaction as the metrics to measure staff performance.

SMS Survey is, among all, one of the most effective tools enjoying a 98% open rate meaning a higher rate of response. In fact, Ipsos MORI found that 95.3% respondent said they would respond to an SMS survey.

It allow customers to respond at a time that suits them. Customers can simply reply using a rating out of 10, or a Yes / No response, particularly efficient when using the Net Promoter Score.

The data can then be fed back into a chosen CRM system, where required and highlight particular staff members for praise and give further insight into key area that needs improvement.

As a business owner, what are your experiences of measuring customer satisfaction? We’d love to hear from you. Please share with us your thoughts with the comment section below.        

 

      

 

month 05
day 12
year 2017

How mobile phones can help in managing health conditions

Telehealth

The recent Australian Telehealth Conference in Melbourne explored many world-leading virtual technologies, new services, and models of care that integrate m-health, e-health, telehealth and digital health into the current healthcare system.

(Not sure what all of those terms really mean? Scroll down for our quick glossary!)

We’ve learnt, for example, how The Victorian Stroke Telemedicine Program ensures 94% of Victorians are within one hour of stroke care by utilising telemedicine equipment to give city-based neurologists access to the patient and their brain images from rural and regional hospitals. The neurologist can then make a diagnosis and recommend treatment much more quickly, crucial when treating strokes.

While telehealth technology clearly delivers results for time sensitive acute treatment, one common theme our research has revealed is how effective mobile phones and telehealth technology are in managing chronic conditions and providing incremental care.

Mobile’s influence on behavioural change

One reason is that mobile devices have the ability to provide personalised and instant responses, which are crucial in assisting behavioural change. In healthcare, behavioural change is the key component to preventing and managing chronic disease.

This probably explains the flourishing of health-related apps. According to The Economist, there are now more than 165,000 health-related apps accessible as of March 2016.

While most of them fall into the category of “wellness”, which help people to monitor their diet, exercise and stress levels, there are also further health apps that have been created for medical purposes, and can even be used by physicians as an equipment supplement.

A good example is the smartphone app iECG which could even replace the traditional ECG machine to detect atrial fibrillation, responsible for one third of all strokes in Australia.

Flexibility of delivery

Another advantage of mobile devices and telehealth technology is their flexibility in delivery, which enable patients to stay at home while receiving the same level of care as they would in a healthcare facility.

According to the Primary Health Care Advisory Group Report, there is a potentially preventable hospitalisation for chronic disease in Australia every 2 minutes. With services like after-hour teletriage, these hospitalisations could be prevented.

Text messages can double the odds of medication adherence

SMS can also be of great help in managing chronic conditions. Researchers at The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney conducted a clinical trial which evaluated how an intervention by text message could be used to increase medication adherence in adults with chronic diseases.

Applications ranged from a text being sent to patients if they failed to open a medication dispenser to personalised messages regarding specific medicines and dosages. The conclusion was that SMS proved to be an essential tool in disease prevention, monitoring and management.

Telehealth encompasses preventative, promotional and curative aspects of healthcare, so it’s important for all providers to continue to explore the potential and build on their experiences.

We’re working with several providers in this space and are excited to be involved with initiatives that make such a difference to the cost and effectiveness of medical care.

Quick guide to telehealth terminology

Telehealth: the provision of healthcare remotely by means of telecommunications technology.

m-health / mHealth: the use of mobile phones and other wireless technology in medical care.

e-health / eHealth: healthcare practice supported by electronic processes and communication. Sometimes more narrowly defined as healthcare practice using the internet.

Digital health: electronically connecting up the points of care so that health information can be shared securely (source).

Telemedicine: the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical healthcare from a distance.

Teletriage: a medical professional speaks by telephone to a patient, assesses the symptoms, and guides them to appropriate care.

month 04
day 24
year 2017

Using SMS surveys to clean up your database

Customer data is a huge asset. According to Zswift, businesses with databases of 500 customers or more achieve a 140% increase in average order value compared to those with smaller databases.

But in order to benefit from this statistic it is important to ensure that your database is up to date.

Customer data can deteriorate so rapidly that it could be rendered useless within 3 years as a result of failed nurturing. (source).

When customer data is out of date, not only does it leave a sour taste for your brand, in some cases you may actually risk breaking the law.

For example sending emails to customers who have already opted out is considered a breach of the Spam Act 2003 and can cost you more than a few failed messages. In 2013, GraysOnline was fined $165,000 for breaching the Spam Act.  

Letters are expensive: hiring a freelance designer to work up the design, getting the mailshot printed, and the actual cost of mailing to recipients can all add up to thousands of dollars.

Calling customers can strain resources, and is also intrusive when you’re unaware of the best time to call – you’re not giving prospects the opportunity to respond at a time that suits them the best.

Email is convenient but it’s hard to cut through the voices of senders of the thousands of other emails from competing brands, arriving in the same inbox. Did you know that prospective customers are likely to receive up to 97 emails per day by 2018?

Yet with the help of SMS, updating customer data is pretty straightforward. Using SMS Surveys can help your business get a response from customers anywhere and at a time that suits them.

With a 98% open rate, as long as you are timing your survey carefully and keeping your questions short and to the point, it’s likely that you will get a good response from this channel.

We’ve developed a guide on how you can utilise SMS surveys to keep your customer database up to date. It contains examples of SMS surveys you could send and provides you with ideas on the sort of questions to ask.

Start using the tactics to keep your customer data up to date by downloading our guide.

If you would like to discuss how you can utilise SMS Surveys to keep your database tidy, please contact us at sales@esendex.com.au or call us at 1300 764 946.

month 04
day 21
year 2017

The future of SMS… RCS

RCS

SMS is turning 25 this year. And as the saying goes, the older, the wiser, and after 25 years, it looks like SMS is improving its functionality through the adoption of RCS.

RCS stands for Rich Communication Services and is already present with some instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Apple’s iMessages.

The difference is, with RCS there is no need for both parties to have installed the same application, as it will be a native app or function in the mobile phone just like how SMS is functioning now.

So first thing first, does RCS use data?

The short answer is yes. But it does have the option to interchange to SMS should data connection not be available. This makes it unique to all other OTT applications.

So what else can RCS do and how does that compare to say WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger? Here is a brief comparison on some of the features:

There’s more unique features to RCS

RCS’s special features don’t just end here. For instance, companies can brand their messages with their own logo and branded colours. Other rich content like discount vouchers, boarding passes, loyalty cards, GIFs and tickets with dynamic fields can be also be included in the messages too.

What’s more exciting is that it has some additional benefits missing with phone calls. For example, doctors who need to contact patients with important test results could add a brief description to the incoming call to provide context about the phone call to enable an informed decision to be made when answering the call.

So can we embrace RCS and ditch SMS now?

Well not so fast.

Since the idea of RCS is to integrate with your existing SMS app to provide a richer communication experience, both your handset and network will need to support RCS.  

As of December 2016 there are only 156 Android devices and 49 mobile operators supporting RCS globally. 

In Australia, Telstra has been listed as a signatory along with other carriers worldwide. However, according to a recent article, there is still no formal launch plan from Telstra. And there aren’t any plans to adopt or roll out RCS by Optus or Vodafone Australia just yet. so we still have some way to go before RCS becomes the default native messaging application like SMS is now. 

If not now, then when?

RCS falls under the umbrella of the GSMA’s “Universal Profile”, which aim to provide a single specification that will help simplify both product development and operator deployment for the next generation of mobile messaging and calling.  

There are currently 47 operators, 11 manufacturers and 2 OS providers that have committed to support the Universal Profile (source). That means RCS, being tied to the Universal Profile,  will be included in any future communication services development by these supporters.

In the second quarter of 2017, there will be additional release of RCS including:

  • Developer APIs
  • Plug-in Integration
  • Improved authentication / app security

These are all good signs that RCS is moving along and we are one step closer to embracing it as the future of SMS.

So what do you think readers? Are you excited about RCS? Would you embrace it with open arms? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comment section below.

month 04
day 12
year 2017

3 questions about password security – answered

Password myths

The average person owns at least 90 online accounts, ranging from email and social media accounts through to banking, utilities and government services, and each require a password.

As the keys which unlock your digital world passwords protect the valuables, just as the lock & key to valuables within your actual home. Yet do we apply the same security measures we have on our home to the passwords that are guarding our digital access?

Has our use of passwords evolved?

The answer is probably not. According to a study analyzing 10 million passwords from data breaches that happened in 2016, over 50% of them are from the list of 25 most common passwords. And the top 5 are:

  1. 123456
  2. 123456789
  3. qwerty
  4. 12345678
  5. 111111

Nearly 17% of users are using “123456” to safeguard their accounts. That’s pretty shocking!  Not only are these passwords painfully old and common, they can also be breached by a computer almost instantly.  

Password complexity – for human or computer?

So what about combining letters and numbers? Or punctuation and capital letters? For instance if you are replacing “password” with “pA5$W0rd”, how secure would it be?

Well the truth is, it would only make it harder for you to remember. For a computer, it takes merely 9 hours to crack.

In fact, any standard desktop computer using a high-end graphic processor can test trillions of password per second.

Look at this table of password recovery speed. A seven-character password composed of upper and lower case letters and digits has 3.5 trillion permutations. That sounds like a lot to us, but with a speedy desktop computer they can be all tested in an hour or two. If you put a few PCs together, they can be done in 10 seconds.  

The longer the better?

It turns out that when it comes to password security, the length of it is more important than the mix of letters, numbers and punctuation. So a phrase from a song, a bad pun, a line from a speech – just anything that has a more complex make up to it will be a stronger password than the pA5$W0rd you are struggling to remember.

Another useful trick is to tie the meaning of your passwords to the actual account. Using “if you invest your tuppence” as your online banking password will take a computer approximately 343 septillion years to crack. The same goes to phrase like “you’re so vain” (perfect for social media account) and “working 9 to 5” (for your work login) which will takes approx 111 thousand years and 2 million years to crack respectively.

So next time when you are prompt to input a password that is eight characters long including special characters, go for “snow white and the seven dwarves!”. It will take a modern computer approximately 38 duodecillion years (that is 38,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years) to crack!    

month 04
day 10
year 2017

How to keep health workers healthy

While we are happily welcoming Easter and the long weekend, healthcare facilities are probably battling with staff rostering. According to the Victoria Healthcare Association, health service operating costs rise by 40%-60% during the Easter holiday. If a facility needs to engage with a staff agency to cover shifts, it will further increase their costs.

In addition to the holiday, we are also entering flu season. There are almost 7000 influenza cases diagnosed so far this year, and we’re not in winter yet. For healthcare facilities, this presents both a possible workload increase and furthers their need for additional shift-workers, as healthcare workers are at increased risk of exposure to influenza.

Help your team to combat the flu season

Vaccination of healthcare workers is only recommended in Australia, not mandatory. And the uptake in healthcare facilities was historically low at about 50% (source).

However, with some planning and social marketing, Alfred Health has successfully increased the voluntary uptake of staff influenza annual vaccination to 80%.

Staff vaccination not only provides individual protection to your staff, it can also prevent massive outbreaks among the facility.

SMS as a rostering solution

Planning holiday cover and filling up shifts when someone is sick can be time consuming.

SMS in this instance is the perfect solution. Instead of having the administration staff calling one staff member after another, a SMS can be sent to all staff at once and whoever replies first will get the shift.

This process is not only much more efficient, it’s also fairer, as everyone will receive the SMS simultaneously and have the chance to take up the shift if they want to.

Bupa Care Service Australia is one of our clients who’ve adopted SMS as their complete rostering solution. As one of the nurses reflected, “Using SMS has saved us time and effort which allows us to focus more time on caring for our residents.”     

Engage your staff and keep them happy

Research studying staff retention and turnover in aged care facilities suggested that working conditions, support and culture are the most important reasons why workers leave, as opposed to the common belief that pay is the major factor.

As an employer, you have more chances to retain your staff than you might think. It might not be your first thought, but the humble SMS can do a great job here, too. Several studies across different parts of the world have shown how SMS helps improve the performance of health workers and reduced the sense of isolation often experienced by caretakers.  

Bupa Berwick has also incorporated SMS as a staff engagement tool by sending motivational messages to their staff members. The messages are aimed to encourage them to continue their good work and remind them that their effort are appreciated.  

You can read the full story here on how Bupa Aged Care incorporates SMS into their staffing solution. If you would like to discuss how SMS can help you solve your staffing problem, give us a call at 1300 764 946.

month 04
day 6
year 2017

Bringing sport to the smallest screen

 

Autumn marks the start of the AFL season, and with smartphone ownership rising to 84% in 2016, its impact on how sports fans participate in sporting events is inevitable. Mobile has became a key element of fans’ experience in a live game. In fact, 67% of sports fans said they used social media at a live sports event (source).

But the mobile experience isn’t limited to social media. Here are 3 trends to watch for this season.

1. User experience in real terms

Nothing makes sports fans more excited than being close to the action. Virtual reality technology is about to bring all sport fans a whole new level of experience. In this year’s Supercars championship, a virtual reality pit-stop experience will be available for race fans to experience the thrill of getting a Supercars racer out on the track in record time.

In the US, NBA and NHL are incorporating virtual reality technology in their ticketing to provide a 360-degree view of venue seating locations, as surveys have revealed that 90% of users said first-person seat views are important when purchasing tickets on mobile and digital.  

With virtual reality technology becoming more popular, user experience and engagement is going to take on a whole new level of meaning.

But if VR seems out of your league (pun intended!), there are alternatives. One of Esendex’s sports club customers utilises a mobile web app to sell tickets to their premium seating, which delivers a rich media experience straight to recipients’ handsets. Video, testimonials and voice clips from sports stars work together to build the experience and prompt purchases.

2. GoPro for video streaming

In 2016, 60% of mobile data traffic originated from watching online video, partly attributable to how sports games are being consumed. While big leagues like the AFL, NRL and Cricket Australia are all live-streaming their games online and on mobile apps, there is also a great chance for smaller teams and games to make use of video streaming.

One good example is the use of GoPro to capture and stream unique angles of the game to their fans. Sports superstar Brendan McCullum used this to raise funds for charity. It can also be used to film the team’s practice sessions and down-time, and distributed to supporters via SMS, email and social media to increase engagement and the sense of belonging.  

3. Mobile ticketing

According to a recent study, 27% of consumers surveyed said that they have made mobile purchases on a weekly basis. 45% revealed that they purchased via smartphone or tablet on a monthly basis. Among the most popular mobile purchases, entertainment tickets rounded out the top five.

It’s very important for event organisers to provide a seamless experience when it comes to purchasing tickets via mobile. Over in the US, we have seen entertainment groups teaming up with mobile application companies to enable users to pre-order tickets, purchase popcorn and soda in advance, and invite friends to the movies all within the same app (source).

While a lot of companies consider apps to be the golden ticket to excel in the mobile first world, promoting an app is not without challenges. In fact, only 13% of Australians have more than 30 apps in their smartphone. And that’s all form of apps combined. So promoting your app could potentially be an even more challenging task than promoting your event itself!

A custom built mobile web application (like Esendex’s Mobile Journeys platform) might prove to be a better alternative. It’s essentially designed to deliver an app like experience across all mobile devices, without the need for download and installation.

It can be fully branded and pre-filled with known customer information to provide a personalised experience. You can also incorporate the view of the seats you are promoting to provide a realistic experience for the user.

Most of all, it starts life as a URL and you can send it via SMS, social media or email to any customer With one click they can begin their journey anytime they want.

What do you think about these emerging technologies? How do you think these will impact you the event organiser or as an audience? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments.