Conversations for Admins
In this guide you will receive step-by-step instructions and learn concepts key for administrator setup of the application. To learn more about what the application is and how to perform functions as an Agent, see our For Agents guide.
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Is your company multi-level, with Agents who support different products or services, perhaps from different locations or departments? Messages can be auto-assigned to specific Agents or groups to expedite the inbox process and ensure that those who can best respond to the message are the ones who see the message right away. Even different business phone numbers can be grouped within a single account, allowing admins a universal view to all centrally managed conversations across different numbers.
Groups can hold collective ownership of a conversation. If an Agent within that group takes ownership, the other Agents in the group will still have visibility to that conversation while utilizing the Group View.
Organizing Your Account
This application is organized into 4 layers: account, Agents, end users and conversations.
- The account is associated with billing information, credentials for the messaging delivery engine, and unique, registered numbers for sending and receiving messages. A single account may have multiple business numbers, groups and Agents.
- Groups are an optional tier that can contain multiple Agents, which assists in assigning conversations and ownership of correspondence. Groups can also determine which Agents have administrative access and which Agents do not.
- Each Agent has unique profile settings and options, and may be associated with one or more groups and/or business numbers, which assist in assigning conversations and ownership of correspondence.
- End-users who text into the application may or may not be registered users. We recommend user registration for building relationships over time with your end-users.
- Conversation Threads are collections of multiple conversations between a single end-user and your Agents over time. The thread is tied to the end-user number regardless of which Agent or business number was used to correspond within a single conversation.
- Conversations are one-on-one message threads between an end-user and an Agent or group, and are representative of a single issue.
The “Group” level creates another tier in the account below “Company,” into which specified Agents may be sorted into groups to better organize which conversations they are automatically assigned to and initially interact with. Assigning an Agent to a group is not obligatory, but it is recommended. Some examples of factors which might determine groups might be:
- Retail versus corporate work sites
- Functional areas
- Units, teams or departments
- Regions or districts
Remember that a single Agent can be assigned to multiple groups simultaneously, or no groups at all. The number of groups to which an Agent can be assigned is unlimited.
There are two permission levels for groups: “Admin” and “Agent.” The “Admin” group is created by default to help designate which users should receive administrative permissions when using the application. Assigning an Agent to the Admin group will grant them the permission to perform the following actions:
- Create new Groups
- Change group names
There are many settings available in the application to help customize the tool to your needs. But to get started, you need only complete a few basic initial steps:
- Log into the application
- Click the dropdown for your company, located in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
- Select “Settings.”
Review Company Profile
- Under Settings, click “Company Profile” on the left-hand side.
- Review the information. Ensure that your API Key and Secret are active, and that your company name is correct.
In order to add numbers to your account, you must first either BYON and receive confirmation that the number is live and text-enabled, or you must order your numbers through the Aerialink Platform.
To do this:
- Log into your account in the Aerialink Platform Portal.
- On the left-hand side, click “Codes & Numbers.”
- From the options that drop down, select “Order Long Codes.”
- Once you’ve selected the code you wish to order, choose “Conversations” as the connection.
- Your new code should be live in the application within 15 minutes.
- If you need MMS enabled, email email@example.com with the number you’d like to have enabled.
In order to utilize the application, you must add at least one text-enabled number. This number will appear in your end-user’s text message inbox as the sender ID, and it is the number to which end-users will send all of their messages.
A single company may have add multiple numbers. A number may be set to auto-assign to a specific Agent or group.
- Back in your application account, go to “Settings” in the user menu in the upper-right-hand corner.
- Click “Business Numbers” under the APPLICATION section of Settings.
- If no numbers exist, click “New Number.”
- In the “Number Name” field, enter a name unique to the code you are adding. (optional)
- In the “Business Number” field, enter a long-code, BYON number, or SMS-enabled Toll-Free Number currently assigned to the application connection in your Aerialink Platform account.
- Don’t forget to SAVE NUMBER.
- Once the Code has been added, you may edit the auto-assign features or enable it for MMS*. To do this, go to Business Numbers and either click the “SHOW” button to view the existing Code information, and then click “EDIT,” or click “EDIT” directly from the the Business Numbers page.
*Note that your application account must be enabled for MMS.
- In Settings, click “Agents” on the left-hand side under “Company.”
- If no users exist, select “New User.”
- Enter the new User’s information. The email address and password will be pre-populated depending upon the credentials of the individual currently logged in.
- Fill in all desired fields and save.
- Review the Agent’s information from the Agent page. You may disable them, or alter their current groups.
The “Admin” group is created by default. To add additional groups:
- Click “Groups” under the Application section of Settings.
- If no groups exist, click “New Group.”
- Enter the Internal Name the application will use for the group.
- Enter the Nice Name you wish your Agents to see.
Edit User Profile
To edit your own User Profile:
- Click “User Profile” under the Company section under Settings.
- Click Edit.
- For the purpose of getting started, ensure that the desired combination of email alert settings are selected (see the four checkbox items between Idle Seconds and Time Zone).
- Fill in all desired fields, confirm your password and Save.
To view and edit the User Profile of a user who is not you, click on the Screenname of the desired user located on the Agents page.
To alter and customize your theme:
- From Settings, click “Theme” under the “APPLICATION” subsection on the left-hand sidebar.
- Select the “EDIT THEME” button at the top of the page.
Note that the tip text recommends a logo that is at least 350 pixels wide with a transparent background. However, be aware that transparency is only supported via GIF and PNG image types, so be sure to save your image as one of those two formats and that transparency is enabled upon saving. Otherwise, the image uploaded will display a white background.
Set Business Hours
Business Hours are currently applied to the top level of an account. To set your business hours:
- Go to “Settings.”
- Then, “Company Profile.”
- You will see your business hours listed. To edit them, click “edit.”
- You will have the option to edit both “regular hours” and alter hours individually depending on the day of the week.
- Once you’ve set your business hours the way you want them, don’t forget to hit the “Update Company” button at the bottom to save your changes.
Business Hours Reporting
The Report named Counts / After Hours vs. Regular Hours will show a break down of messages both inbound and outbound during business hours and outside of business hours based on the business hours configuration in company profile.
See the “Reports” section under “Advanced Options” below to learn more about accessing reports.
Restricted Viewing & Replying
Because the application is designed with sharing in mind;, its default configuration permits all account users to view and respond to any conversation regardless of conversation assignment/ownership. However, viewing and replying restrictions are available.
In order to apply restrictions to the viewing of and responding to conversations, an Administrator must first create groups, then assign those conversations to a specified group and configure the “Restrict Viewing & Replying” feature to permit only the Agents within that group to view and reply to its conversations. This allows the Agents within the group to continue exercising the application’s sharing capabilities while applying a certain level of security to the conversations they share.
Note that conversations within a restricted group which are owned by a specified Agent rather than the entire group will be visible and accessible to that Agent only. As the restriction is specifically applied to the group and not on the Agent level, this prevents restricted group conversations from going public if they are assigned to an individual.
To summarize, applying the Restrict Viewing & Replying feature will have the following effects:
- Conversations owned by a restricted group can only be viewed by Agents within that group.
- Conversations owned jointly by a restricted group and a specified Agent can be viewed by Agents in that group as well as the aforementioned Agent regardless of whether that Agent belongs to the restricted group.
- Conversations owned by an individual Agent within the restricted group rather than the whole group can be viewed by that Agent only.
- Admins will retain access to all conversations, but will only be able to view conversations within restricted groups through the Settings > Conversations page and not via the inbox.
To set up “Restrict Viewing & Replying,”
- From Settings choose “Groups.”
- Select the group to which you want to apply Restrict Viewing & Replying.
- On that group’s page, check the box labeled “Restrict Viewing & Replying,” and save your changes.
Once these steps are completed, Agent access to conversations assigned to the modified, restricted group will be limited to the Agents who are part of that group.
Single User View
A company’s account configuration may be set to this view which removes some features for a simplified user experience geared to a small business or single user. It removes Transfer, Groups and Members Online.
Questions you see time and again in your message inbox no longer require manual reply. Let’s say you receive multiple tickets from customers about your hours of operation. You can set up a Quick Reply in the application, but this requires manual intervention. Rather than answering each of those manually, you could create an auto-reply trigger that sends a message with your hours when an inquiry includes phrases like, “what time do you open,” “how late are you open,” “store hours,” et cetera. This may not catch all of the inquiries you receive on this subject, but you might be able to head off some manual replies. If your account has multiple phone numbers for different aspects of your business, you may associate the replies with relevant, specified numbers.
Inbound texts to which match part of a pre-defined pattern will receive a specific auto-reply. To modify patterns, their rulesets and their replies:
- Go to Settings.
- Under the APPLICATION subsection, select “Auto-Replies (Text-Based)”
You will see an overview of the auto-response patterns you have so far. By using Patterns, you can specify strings of characters you wish the system to identify in incoming texts. Texts found to match a saved pattern - such as a phrase or keyword - will receive the response associated with that pattern in return.
Create New Text-Based Auto-Replies
To create a new auto-response:
- Click “NEW AUTO RESPONSE.”
- Enter the name for your Auto-Reply pattern.
- Specify whether you would like to allow multiple replies.*
- Enter the default response for that number, and add any notes you might want to save, then UPDATE AUTO RESPONSE.**
*By default, only a single response is sent back to the originating multiple device. However, you can check the Allow Multiple Replies checkbox to enable the system to continue comparing against all potentially relevant patterns, thereby allowing multiple to send.
**The Default Response is an optional field that defines the response returned when the incoming text does not trigger any other defined pattern. If there is no Default Response defined, then there will not be a response sent when no other pattern is triggered.
You may only wish to configure a default auto-reply and nothing else. Or, you may want auto-replies which are patterned to respond to specific words and phrases in addition to or instead of your optional default auto-reply. The next section will teach you how to set up the rulesets for those replies - these are the “patterns” that will match against incoming texts to determine pre-selected auto-replies.
Please note that when patterns are compared against incoming texts, the comparison is not case-dependent. This means that if the pattern entered is all upper-case and the received text is all lower- case or mixed-case, the pattern will still match the text.
The number of auto-replies you can add is unlimited
Add Text-Based Auto-Reply Rules
The “Rules” are what define the patterns to which incoming texts will be matched, triggering auto-replies. Think of patterns like SMS keywords, but more flexible - unlike with keywords, incoming texts that match multiple rulesets can trigger multiple auto-replies, and patterns can include spaces, enabling key phrases in addition to simple single keywords. You define each pattern with essentially a keyword or key phrase and a response ruleset as explained below.
To add a ruleset:
- Select “NEW RULE.”
- What you enter as the “Pattern” is essentially a keyword or phrase.
- If you choose “exact match pattern,” that means that a lack or presence of spaces will not affect the pattern match.
- Include the response you would like to send out to messages which match this pattern.
- Determine whether this is or is not an opt-out rule. Note that opt-out rules will always run first on messages that may contain multiple pattern matches. Opt-out rules will result in the end-user being opted out from receiving any additional messages.
- Determine whether this rule will cause users to Join a List.
- Determine whether this rule will Auto-Assign incoming conversations to specified groups or Agents.
- Click “UPDATE AUTO RESPONSE RULE.”
Remember: incoming texts must match the entire ruleset, but the entirety of the incoming text does not need to match only the ruleset(s) to trigger auto-replies unless “Exact Match” has been selected.
Assign Text-Based Auto-Reply to Number
Once your pattern has been created, you must associate it with a number on which you want that pattern to run. To do this:
- Go to Business Numbers
- Edit your chosen number
- Under “Auto Response (Pattern)” choose the name of the pattern you wish to associate.
- “SAVE NUMBER.”
Note that only one Auto Response (Pattern) can be assigned to a number at one time.
Join a List
The Join a List feature allows users to manage their own subscription to content, topics or updates by texting in a specific keyword which adds them to or removes them from a list of subscribers. It’s an easy way for your business to build and manage lists and deliver relevant content. For example, an automotive dealership may have ten distribution lists for each car model they service - the customer can subscribe to the relevant lists and receive periodic messages with information on their chosen car model(s).
To set up Join a List and Remove from a List you’ll be creating Text-Based Auto-Replies and Rules as described in previous sections. However, there are some list-related considerations to keep in mind, so we’ll walk you through again:
- Go to Settings > Distribution List.
- Select “New Distribution List,” and create the list you want subscribers to join or leave with a keyword. (Tip: Your new distribution list must contain at least one subscriber in order for you to save it. We suggest adding yourself!)
- Next, go to Settings > Auto-Replies (Text-Based).
- Choose “New Auto-Reply Ruleset,” give the ruleset group a name and save.
- Now, set up a “New Rule.”
- For the “Pattern,” enter an easy-to-spell one-word keyword* that your mobile end-users will text in to join your list. (This keyword can be made up of letters, numbers or a combination of the two.)
- [Optional; Highly Recommended] Select the “Exact Match” checkbox to restrict list subscription to end-user messages that contain only that keyword. (Left unchecked, users who send the keyword in the midst of a string of freeform text may subscribe to the list inadvertently.)
- Write a confirmation/welcome text reply that will be sent automatically to the mobile user when they text in the keyword to join. It’s a good idea to include instructions on how they can remove themselves from the list as well. (Tip: Message length is a maximum of 160 characters - including spaces. Keep it simple!)
- Select the checkbox for “Add to Distribution List,” (or “Remove from Distribution List,” depending on desired functionality**) then select your List from the menu. This tells the application that when a user texts in that keyword, it will add them to the list.
- Finally, go to Settings > Business Numbers to associate the desired number with the auto-reply you’ve set up for your list.
*While patterns can be more than one word in length, we recommend single-word keywords to keep things simple for the end-user. We also suggest that you first try typing the word from your smartphone’s native messaging app to see if your phone auto-corrects it to something else. User experience is improved when end-users don’t have to struggle with an autocorrected keyword. If you only have one list, a simple “JOIN” works great as an opt-in keyword, while keywords specific to content topics are best when multiple lists are at play.
**As a best-practice in texting, the following words are reserved to completely opt end-users out of all messaging and all lists: STOP, END, QUIT, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE, ARRET. Because of this, we suggest setting up “Remove from Distribution List” keywords specifically designed to remove users from specific lists without disrupting their subscription to other lists. The “Opt-Out” rule configuration restricts Agents from typing a message to that number in the future. However, keep in mind that if a user has opted out and then texts back in with any word or inquiry, they will no longer be opted out. To maintain this ability for users to opt back in and allow the application to handle opt-outs via the Auto-Replies tool, your Platform Portal account must have the application connection set to “No” for “Enforce Opt Out.”
Auto-Assign by Keyword
This feature utilizes keywords to automatically assign end-user-initiated conversations to specific, designated groups or Agents. Assign keywords to sort inbound conversations by functional areas, geographic regions, message priority and more. For example, a hotel can create functional groups for Front Desk, Concierge, Valet, Room Service, Spa, Housekeeping, etc - by designating department-specific keywords, inbound messages are assigned directly to the appropriate department, which can then send out a relevant auto-reply from that group to begin the one-on-one conversation.
Admin privileges (or higher) are required to set up Auto-Assign by Keyword.
To set up Auto-Assign by Keyword you’ll be creating Text-Based Auto-Replies and Rules as described in previous sections. However, there are some Auto-Assign-related considerations to keep in mind, so we’ll walk you through again:
- Go to Settings > Auto-Replies (Text-Based).
- Create a new Auto-Reply Ruleset, give the ruleset a name and save.
- Now, set up a new Rule. For the “Pattern,” enter an easy-to-spell one-word keyword* that your mobile end-users will text to your Business Number. (This keyword can be made up of letters, numbers or a combination of the two.)
- [Optional; Highly Recommended] Select the “Exact Match” checkbox to restrict the auto-response to trigger from messages that contain only that keyword. (Left unchecked, users who send the keyword in the midst of a string of freeform text may have their conversation assigned to the wrong department inadvertently.)
- Enter the auto-reply message to be triggered by the set “Pattern.” (Tip: Message length is a maximum of 160 characters - including spaces. Keep it simple!)
- From the Auto-Assign pick list, select the group or Agent intended for conversation assignment.
- Finally, go to Settings > Business Number and associate the number with the desired Auto-Reply from the pick list.
*While patterns can be more than one word in length, we recommend single-word keywords to keep things simple for the end-user. We also suggest that you first try typing the word from your smartphone’s native messaging app to see if your phone auto-corrects it to something else. User experience is improved when end-users don’t have to struggle with an autocorrected keyword.
Note that all methods outlined below allow opted-out end-users to text back in at any time, at which point the system will lift their block. Otherwise, Agents can manually unblock users under Mobile User Info.
Application-Level Opt-Out (Manual)
When an Agent or Admin manually clicks the checkbox to opt out a mobile end-user, two events are triggered within the application:
- Agents can no longer compose and send messages to that mobile number from any business number.
- The mobile end-user’s opt-out status within the application is updated from “No” to “Yes.”
Application-Level Opt-Out (Auto)
If a text-based auto-response rule is set as an opt-out, four events are triggered within the system:
- Agents who are in the middle of composing messages to that end-user and attempt to “SEND” will receive a “Failed to send message” pop-up notification.
- The checkbox on the Mobile End-User Info will be automatically checked.
- Agents can no longer compose and send messages to that mobile number from any business number.
- The mobile end-user’s opt-out status within the application is updated from “No” to “Yes.”
Note: This method will not add users to the Gateway-Level Outbound Block List on the Aerialink Platform Management Portal.
Auto-Append automatically adds an alphanumeric string to an outbound SMS or MMS message. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- This configuration is set at the company level, at which one append string is available. Therefore, if you have multiple companies, the append string will need to be configured individually for each.
- You can choose to add the content string to all outbound messages, or limit it to only the first message in a conversation.
To activate Auto-Append:
- Go to Settings > Company and click “EDIT.”
- Check the Auto Append option and choose either Dynamic or Fixed (see below for more information)
- Determine whether you want the string appended to all messages or only the first message in a conversation.
- Enter the append content. We recommend keeping this short to keep character space available for the rest of the message. Note that the character counter in the “compose a message text box” in the Message Center will be reduced and adjusted based on the characters used in this Auto Append Text box.
- Save the settings by clicking “Update.”
If you choose the Dynamic option, the append string is inserted automatically into the Compose Message box and can be edited by the Agent. It can be used anywhere in the message. For example, if you want messages to begin with your company name, the name would automatically be included in your message box and the Agent can simply type the rest of the message following that string.
The Fixed Auto-Append option is added to the end of a message after an Agent presses “send,” and therefore disallows the Agent from editing it. The append content is visible in the conversation thread after the message sends but is not visible in the text box while typing. This is a good option if you need to add, for example, opt-out language for compliance or a support phone number.
A company’s account configuration may be set to allow concatenated messages which removes the 160 character limitation. If concatenated messages are enabled, an Agent may include up to 459 characters/spaces in a single message send. This is sent as multiple messages, which means that although they are knit back together as a single, long message on the destination handset, they are billed individually. A 306-character message, for instance, will be billed as two. The price of the concatenated message will be the sum of the price of each individual segment.
Important Note: Unlike the AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile networks which support concatenation - automatically splitting their messages and then sewing them back together in order - the Sprint network lacks this support. Therefore, messages in excess of 160 characters may arrive at Sprint destination handsets out of order. Because of this, the standard 160-character limit is recommended.
To view useful metrics in your account usage:
- Go to “Settings”
- Select “Reports” under the “DATA” subheading in the left-hand nav.
- Select the criteria for the desired report.
- Click “View Report.”
TXT Relay allows Agents to respond to conversations with their native messaging app by utilizing an additional unique long code per Agent which acts behind the scenes as the bridge number between the Business Number and the Agent for forwarding purposes.
- An Agent must have ownership of a conversation in order for it to forward via TXT Relay. This means that conversations assigned to a group and not a specific Agent will not forward.
- Agents may obtain ownership either by claiming it for themselves with the “Owner” button in the Message Center or by having another Agent transfer ownership to them.
- Conversations will not forward via TXT Relay if an Agent is actively logged into the application.
- TXT Relay can be enabled or disabled within an Agent’s profile page.
To set up a TXT relay number:
- Go to “Settings,” then “Numbers.”
- Select “New Number.”
- Choose a number which is not yet in use on the application account.
- Under “Name,” enter a friendly name which indicates the number is a TXT Relay number (e.g. “Joe Smith TXT Relay”)
- Check “TXT Relay” to enable it as a TXT Relay number.
- Assign to an Agent using the “TXT Relay for User” field.
- Save the number.
- Navigate to the Agent’s profile page.
- Add the Agent’s mobile number.
- Check “TXT Relay” to enable that Agent to use TXT Relay.
- Each Agent using TXT Relay requires a TXT Relay number. Each number has a monthly fee.
- Forwarding a message to the Agent’s mobile number is an outbound message fee.*
- An Agent’s reply from their mobile number applies an inbound message fee.*
**These transaction fees are in addition to the fees of messages which run between customer mobile and business number. That means that when TXT Relay is used, transaction fees are doubled.
Waiting for Reply Flags
When an Agent has not replied to a conversation flagged as “Customer Replied” within a set amount of time, the flag will change to Waiting for Reply. At this time, the conversation will be flagged with the red warning symbol and will be highlighted in red. These Waiting for Reply conversations can be viewed in all Views with open conversations, but take note of the Waiting View which provides a quick and organized way to identify conversations with this flag. Once the Agent has replied to the conversation or it has been “closed,” the flag will no longer be applied.
Learn more about the Flags in our Conversation for Agents user guide.
To configure this:
- Go to Settings.
- Select Company Profile.
- Choose to “Edit” your Company Profile.
- From there, you can set the number of minutes after which a “Customer Replied” conversation will be flagged as “Waiting for Reply.” This setting will apply to all inbound messages that meet this criteria.
- Save your changes.
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