SMS Originating Phone Number

Hi @rachel, @Bart_Lewis & @marcus,

I have another hot topic that needs some serious modernising (considering how much development has been brought to Cliniko this past year).

SMS reminders and group messages I understand is outsourced by Cliniko, meaning that the numbers used to send messages are in constant circulation. Whilst this may prove a cheap and affordable option for Cliniko, I believe that there may be enough of a client-base to now make this system more professional for it’s users.

For patients… it is often both confusing and frustrating to receive an SMS reminder from a number that you don’t recognise time and time again. They then to the hassle of saving the number, only to receive their next reminder from an entirely different number. As you can hopefully understand, if a patient has several different appointments over a few weeks, they are in receipt of numerous messages from the same source from completely different numbers. Frustrating as they then can not find messages from loved ones amongst the random number messages from their beloved clinic.

For practitioners… We enable text confirmations for online bookings. Again the same problem as before. If 20 people book an appointment online in a day, that means that I have to scroll through a considerable amount of messages before finding the message from my “better-half” to continue discussions about dinner choices.

Hope you can empathise that whilst the system in operation is effective, it now is starting to look scruffy and unprofessional as the modern-world changes and excels.

I know the options are there to identify the message sender with “business-name”, and turn off text message notifications etc. but I’m not trying to cover up the cracks.

Great job as always everyone, look forward to an awesome reply.

KR

Ben

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I agree with Ben. This has become a frustrating issue for me too. I often get comments from clients who have been unable to contact me saying “your number wasn’t working” or “your mobile was switched off”. When I ask them what number they called it usually turns out that they assumed that the best way to contact my business was by calling the number that they received their SMS notification from - a natural assumption for anyone to make. I have even tried including a note at the end of my SMS messages saying “Please note this is not a mobile number. To contact (my business name) please call xxxxxx” but this makes for a long (and expensive) notification message and I have found that many clients just check the dates and don’t actually read the whole message. Surely there is a better way to send automated SMS messages that doesn’t create dead-end contact details for my business in my client’s mobile phones?

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I agree, it would be great if the text messages said the clinic’s name oppose to a phone number.

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I agree. We don’t use the SMS feature very much for this reason. We would probably use more system generated SMS and spend more if it came from our own number (not sure if or how this is possible?). But definitely tidy up the system Same complaint from patients phone off etc…

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This is a great suggestion we experience the same issue with multiple SMS reminder numbers causing confusion. A switch to one source number for messages that could receive a reply would be a lot less muddled and project the professional image we are constantly striving to achieve whilst reducing confusion for patients, particularly for those who are less IT savvy. Keep up the fantastic work, Cliniko is awesome!

David

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Agree with this. My hairdresser, GP, dentist and car garage all have personalised SMS? I’m unsure as to the problem. They said it affects the deliverability, but there must be a workaround for all the other companies?

We used to use Pioneers software (clinic office) and that never had an issue.

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I agree Ben, thanks so much for raising this matter. Our clients are confused and irritated with the constant change in mobile numbers. I hope Cliniko can fix this soon…

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Great response so far everyone, lets wait to see what sort of response Cliniko comes up with for this.

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Anything to add to this @joel @marcus @Bart_Lewis @rachel?

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Great idea Ben, would certainly lift the level of professionalism of the business.

Along these lines and Il’ll bring up in a similar post - if a client replies to a text it would be great for that message to come through in a way that the reply would continue that conversation via text.

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Hi all,

Sorry for the silence here.

Whilst this may prove a cheap and affordable option for Cliniko, I believe that there may be enough of a client-base to now make this system more professional for it’s users.

@Ben_Boulter it’s not about cheap. We’re using one of the more expensive SMS providers because of higher deliverability rates. We could pay a fraction of what we’re paying now, and have an “okay” service, and it would be a significant profit increase for us (tens of thousands of dollars p/month), but we don’t. We only care about the quality.

As for the rotating numbers, right now it depends on where you are based. So far we have “consistent numbers” for our Australian customers. This means we’ve allocated a number to your accounts, and always send from the same number on your behalf. We have a pool of approximately 30 numbers to use, and we randomly allocate them to each account. It means there’s a very small chance you’re sharing a number with another business that’s in your area or your client would visit. If we do get an overlap, we can switch your business to a different number on request.

We have been advised by our provider that “named” numbers have lower deliverability, ie. using your business name as the “from number”. Also we can’t handle replies when we do that, as it’s not a real number.

I am not sure what options we have to give you your actual own number you control, but if we did, you still couldn’t receive calls on it, it would be a number owned/controlled by our SMS provider. We cannot just “spoof” your existing mobile number for a variety of reasons (including potential for scams/fraud/phishing). If people really wanted this, we can investigate (having your own number), but I’m sure it would come at a cost p/month, and I think our 30 numbers allocated works quite well.

If you’re not in Australia, please let me know what country and I can investigate our options there. Our providing we use globally is Australian, with international partners, so it was easier for us to set up dedicated numbers in Australia. We can still investigate our options, and possibly use a different provider in other countries if needed.

I’m not sure if I’ve answered everything asked here, if not, please let me know further questions.

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Hi @joel,

Thanks for the reply.
We are in Sussex, in the UK.

Cheers
Stuart

Am investigating UK options.

This is such an issue for us as well, I HATE this random ever changing phone number that patients get - before we went over to Cliniko, when we had a paper diary, we used a computerised texting service called Fast SMS which allowed us to use our business name instead of a number and it looked so much better! We never had any problems with delivery and patients knew that they had to call our landline to respond to the message as it wasn’t like a normal text. The problem is compounded by the fact that if patients do reply to the Cliniko text (which if I had a choice I would rather they couldn’t) their message comes up on the Dashboard…but there appears to be no notification system, so you have to remember to check the Dashboard page manually every so often - we’ve missed a couple of cancellations this way, spaces that we could have filled if we’d remembered to look at the Dashboard earlier - so has actually lost us money:-(

In the UK also (Leeds)

Many thanks

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We’ve acquired UK numbers to be used, I hope to have that happening within a week for the UK.

@Rachael what country are you in?

Hi Joel, thanks for your feedback.

I too am in the UK, and due to the amount of clinics that I know in the UK to be using Cliniko, this is certainly a problem for all of the them. There does appear to be approximately 30 rotating numbers being used to send out confirmations & reminders to both practitioners and patients.

I would be interested to know what ratio of clients you have across different countries because whilst I understand the majority may still be in Australia where the company started, it is definitely now an INTERNATIONAL company/brand. This would naturally lead on to a conversation about private healthcare numbers (you have medicare, but we don’t)… making the option on cliniko for a lot of us, not only useless, but marginally bias towards your Australian market.

I know from other services and industries in the UK, such as Dentists and hairdressers use “named” numbers flawlessly with a good deliverability. As Rachael describes in her response… so long as the message contains a number to call then I don’t see a major issue as the ability to call the mobile number would be impossible. On this, I would be interested to see how many people have called our clinic via the text numbers. This isn’t information that I have access to.

Thanks @joel, you guys are doing a great job. It’s just now it is definitely worth the appreciation for the fact that what you’ve built is now an international company and needs to accommodate everyone worldwide as opposed to the original Australian market :slight_smile:

Hi Joel

I’m in the UK - and apologies for the tone of my comment but I wrote it when I was annoyed at having just missed a Dashboard cancellation when other patients were waiting for a cancellation, for the second time this week!!! So it is a real problem, and also the random number that they get looks so unprofessional as well them thinking they can use it to contact us anytime.

Other than a few minor glitches (eg could you set it so that when inputting a new patient it automatically gives a capital letter for the first letter of all their names? - It’s impossible to press the shift key whilst typing and holding the phone at the same time so we end up having to go into edit to correct it later and it all takes time. Even Setmore which we trialled for free and all hated could manage this!!!)

Many thanks

Rachael

Hi Ben,

First up, I definitely appreciate we aren’t just an Australian service. In answer to your question about ratios:

  • 65% of our customer base is in Australia
  • 20% in the UK
  • The remainder is spread across 70 countries, with Canada, New Zealand and Ireland being next biggest.

We’ll have persistent UK numbers within the next few days.

I still don’t believe a named sender is a good idea, as we’re planning on functionality to automate handling of replies (ie. if someone replies “yes” we can mark them as confirmed). If you’re still really set on a named sender, I can investigate further, knowing that it will mean anyone using a named sender will not get access to this functionality.

The Medicare field, I agree and I regret it. I put it in on day one building the system, when I did think I was only targeting an Australian audience (luckily, that didn’t end up being the case). It’s hard to remove the field, because it’s used by people for other purposes. I do have plans to rename it, but it’s a bit of work, because we actually need to create a new field, move all the data over to the new one, and hide the old field.

If there are other things that are showing “our Aussie-ness”, do let me know. We have support locally in the UK, and cover all hours internationally. I never want people in the UK or elsewhere to feel like the system is not for them.

Even our team itself, has many more people outside Australia than within:

Joel

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