This document describes how to use the “SMS to Speakeasy Contacts” App to compose and send an SMS message to groups of Speakeasy contacts, such as PWAs and carers, SLTs and staff or volunteers. The app can be particularly useful when trying to urgently contact many contacts, e.g. to inform them that a meeting has been cancelled due to bad weather or other unforeseen circumstance.
The app interfaces with a third-party product called ClickSend. See the “Background” section at the end of this article for more information on ClickSend. There is a charge associated with sending bulk SMS messages via the ClickSend product, so the app is limited to just a few key staff members. Licensing costs for the app are as yet unknown – the app uses a PowerApps premium connector to communicate with ClickSend – at the time of writing a licensing model (PowerApps Tier 2 trial subscription) was chosen which seemed to imply that costs would be incurred after 90 days (although the PowerApps Tier 2 trial subscription does not seem to have an expiry date) The author of this article will check back in July to see if this changes after the 90 day period has expired. If issues are encountered, an alternative PowerShell mechanism can be used. See Send SMS Message Using ClickSend for more information
It is important to ensure there are sufficient funds in the ClickSend account before sending a message to many users – a minimum balance of £5 is recommended. This issue can be mitigated by configuring automated top-up using a credit card. See the section in this article titled “Topping up the ClickSend Account Balance”.
Launching the App
Launch the “SMS to Speakeasy Contacts” App from Microsoft Teams. There is an “Asset Manager” tab available via the Speakeasy…Contact Details and Activity team. See the screenshot below:
Using the App
The app does lead a user through the process of composing and sending a message. This guide provides additional detail.
Having launched the app, a home screen will be displayed which is similar to the one shown below:
In the “Message to send” textbox, compose the message that you wish to send to multiple contacts. Make sure the message states that is from Speakeasy, as the telephone number that will be used to send the message will not be Speakeasy’s. The maximum length of a message is limited to 160 characters. The “Characters remaining” section helps guide the user to when the message length is nearing this limit. If the limit is exceeded, the “Send Test Message” button will become disabled. If this occurs, edit the message length accordingly.
Once the message has been composed, select a staff member to receive the message (the user will be able to specify other recipients later). By default, the staff member will be the current user of the app, but this can be changed to a different staff member. Next, click the “Send Test Message Button”. The message will then be sent to the one nominated user so that they can check that they are happy with the content. As soon as the message is sent, the app will then display the following screen:
At this point, the nominated recipient of the email should receive an SMS message on their phone and the app is in a state where it is awaiting a reply to the message. If the user is happy with the format of the message, they should send a reply to the message. If the message needs to be modified, the user should click “Cancel” in the app. In this case, the app will then revert to the home screen, enabling the user to amend the previous message and click the “Send Test Message” button.
If a reply to the SMS message is detected by the app, a screen similar to the following will appear:
The user can then nominate which contact lists to send the SMS message to. In the above screenshot, the SpeakeasyCarers. SpeakeasyMembers and SpeakeasyStaff contact lists have been specified. Please note that ClickSend (which sends the SMS messages) charges circa 3p for each message sent, so sending to all PWAs and carers can cost around £4. i.e. Use with Care!!
The user can then click the “Send SMS Message” to send the message to the members of each of the selected lists. The “Send SMS Message” will be disabled if no contact list is selected. It is not possible to amend the SMS message from this screen – if the message needs further modification, click the cross in the top left-hand side of the app. The app will revert to displaying the home screen, ready for specifying a new test message.
If a reply is not received within 2 minutes, the following screen will appear:
Click the “Cancel” button to return to the application home screen.
SMS Message Replies
All replies to SMS messages are forwarded as emails to the SMSReplies shared mailbox. Access to this mailbox can easily be added to a staff member’s Outlook email. Jo Black and Paul Cashmore already have this configured. This makes it very easy to peruse all replies without having to login to the underlying ClickSend software product. See the “Forwarding SMS replies to email” section below
Topping up the ClickSend Account Balance
As stated earlier, ClickSend charges circa 3p for each message sent, so sending a message to PWAs and carers can cost approximately £4. It is therefore important that there is enough money in the ClickSend account – a minimum balance of £5 is suggested. This can be done using the automated top-up feature, as described below.
ClickSend can be configured to automatically top-up the account balance when it has a value below a pre-set threshold. Firstly, register a credit or debit card with ClickSend by following these steps:
- Login to ClickSend via the following link: ClickSend Login. Login details are stored in BitWarden under the “ClickSend SMS Dashboard” entry. Click the “+” sign which appears next to the current balance – this appears towards the top righ hand side of the ClickSend screen.
- Click the “Manage Credit Cards” tab
- Register a credit or debit card under the “Manage Debit Cards” tab and add a new card.
For Speakeasy, Gill Pearl’s Speakeasy credit card has been used.
To configure automated top-up, from the same screen click the “General” tab and select the “Balance Management” option. Configure values for when the account will be topped up and the value of the top-up payment. See the screenshot below for information on what was configured for Speakeasy:
The app provides an interface to a third-party product, called ClickSend, which performs the sending of SMS messages and receipt of any replies to those messages. See Send SMS Message Using ClickSend for more information. Messages are sent to one or more contact lists. The contact lists are populated using mobile telephone numbers from PWAs, carer, staff/volunteers and SLTs. A PowerShell script performs the population process – see the following article for more information: Synchronisation of SMS Contact Lists
See the section titled “Useful ClickSend links” for information on how to access useful ClickSend product resources, e.g. to identify telephone numbers which are no longer active.
Forwarding SMS replies to email
A rule was configured within ClickSend so that all replies go to the SMSReplies shared mailbox. To view the configured rule, first login to the ClickSend dashboard. The rule is configured in the “Inbound rules” tab and is called “Email response”. The rule is specified so that any reply from any number is forwarded as an email response to firstname.lastname@example.org. See the screenshot below:
An earlier technique required that the SMS message be sent containing a “from” email address. Using a rule in this way means that this “from” address no longer needs to be specified.
The app has some code built in to detect if Paul Cashmore is using the app. If so, a button appears enabling him to toggle between admin mode (the appearance of the app when used by someone with permission to administrator timesheets) and standard mode (the appearance of the app when used by someone without permission to administrator timesheets). Also, the app is configured so that any timesheets created for Paul Cashmore can only be seen by him, and no other admin user. See the following Powershell script articles for information on other actions which support this testing mode:
The name easily be changed to another user in the app and the above scripts, should Paul Cashmore no longer work with Speakeasy.