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When it comes to sales and customer support, text messages, or SMS, are a great way to contact your clients. You can use SMS to provide real-time, personalized communication that allows sales reps and support agents to engage directly with their customers. To make it part of your whole customer experience you will need to initiate these conversations and track them in your CRM. But what is the best way to achieve this? What are the limitations? How much is possible with the out-of-the-box Salesforce functionality? This week, we talked to Pat McClellan, Chief Lightning Officer at Proton 7 Group, to hear what he thinks about SMS and Salesforce.

interview

Ntegro: Why is it important to consider SMS when using or administering Salesforce?

Pat: SMS is important because it’s effective: if you leave a voice mail or send an email, what kind of response rate do you expect, and how long before you get a response? In contrast, almost all texts get read and responded to within minutes. There are a lot of hyperbolic stats out there, but for a reality check, just think about yourself. When you get that familiar buzz or ping on your phone, you’re going to check it, and probably right away. Texts just don’t get lost in the inbox. 

Applying such an effective communication channel in Salesforce has three major use cases: 

  1. 1-to-1 texting, such as between a sales rep and a prospect or client, or as part of omni-channel communications between a customer and a service rep.
  2. Automated texting, for appointment reminders, account status updates, text-to-case, text-to-lead, and system notifications
  3. Blasts, either as part of a marketing campaign, or for mass communications to thousands of students or volunteers.

The key opportunity is to merge those three use cases seamlessly to maximize efficiency while establishing a personalized and responsive engagement with customers.

Ntegro: What current capabilities does out-of-the-box Salesforce have for using SMS?

Pat: Salesforce has an option to add texting to Omni-channel in Service Cloud. Otherwise, you need a third-party app, such as Proton Text.

Ntegro: What are your products, and how can they fill in the gap?

Pat: When I began, all of the existing SMS apps were very obviously built for Classic because even if they had applied SLDS styling to look like Lightning, you still had to leave the application you’re working in and open theirs in order to set up your blast—and these apps were very focused on blasting. It just seemed odd that there wasn’t a Lightning component text messenger you could drop into any home page or record page tab.

So I built Proton Text, starting with a 1-to-1 messenger that looks and feels like the messaging app on your smartphone. The messenger interface seems really intuitive because I adopted the UI conventions from iPhone and Android. It’s roughly the size and shape of your smartphone, placed on a home page, in a sidebar tab on a record page, or as a pop-up utility.  You start with a scrollable list of Conversations, with the newest at the top. Select a conversation and you see a list of talk bubbles with timestamps, emojis, files and images, displayed with newest at the bottom and message entry right below that. 

Conversations and messages

Since we’re in Salesforce, the app can link the conversation to standard and custom object records, and the messenger component knows where it is. For example, if you are on an opportunity record page, it will display the conversations that have been linked to that record. 

context-aware

As I was writing the code, I realized that by using Platform Events and Invocable Apex Actions, I could open up these texting capabilities for automation in Process Builder and Flows. On my website, I’ve built a library full of Processes and Flows, all fully documented and downloadable as unmanaged packages, that customers can install and customize to their own needs.

flow

A year after the debut of Proton Text, I launched v2, which added a major new component to handle bulk texting called Proton Blaster (I always wanted to build a Proton Blaster!) This component integrates with Campaign and Campaign Member objects, or, can be used with a custom object called a Blast List. 

I started building the bulk component with some pretty wild ideas about what a Proton Blaster UI might look like, and it turns out, the most efficient interface is… a calendar. Planning a blast is as easy as setting up a calendar appointment, where you double-click a date on the calendar, enter the body of the message, schedule the time, and choose how you’d like to handle responses (such as an auto-response message, or forwarding responses to the rep who owns the Lead).

blaster

Ntegro: What value does this product bring?

Pat: Initially, I thought this product would demonstrate the value of texting interactions between business and their customers. It turns out, I don’t have to convince anybody that texting is important; businesses are already texting with their customers. What Proton Text really does is bring that interaction into your Salesforce org, link it to your records, integrate it into every page, add it to the activity feed, share it with a team, transfer it to a queue, set it up for automated response. Basically, it adds texting capability to the arsenal of tools you use in your business processes in Salesforce.

Ntegro: How can people find out more information about your product?

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Pat: You can find Proton Text (with Proton Blaster) on the AppExchange. Read more about it at http://www.protontext.com or contact pat@proton7group.com for a personalized demo.

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Proton 7 Group is the creator of products such as Proton Text, Proton Blaster, and Proton Toaster. Specializing in SMS integration with Salesforce, Pat McClellan developed Proton Text and Proton Blaster to make it easy to communicate with Leads, Contacts, and Users via text messaging. Pat’s newest app, Proton Toaster, gets your users’ attention with pop-up “toast” notifications that can be automated from Process Builder. Learn more at http://www.protontoaster.com