An Affordable Workaround to Branded SMS

As a business owner, you understand that branding plays a critical role when communicating to your customers. 

It not only distinguishes your business from competitors but also establishes a unique identity that your customers can recognise and connect with. 

In this post, we explore how to brand SMS messages in your ServiceM8 system.

Why Branding is Important

Effective branding builds trust, reinforces your business values, and fosters an emotional connection with your customers. Every touchpoint, including communication such as emails, SMS messages, and social media interactions, is an opportunity to reinforce this brand identity.

By consistently integrating your branding into all forms of customer communication, you enhance brand recognition, build customer loyalty, and create a memorable customer experience. Ultimately, effective branding makes your small business appear larger, more professional, and can significantly contribute to its long-term success.

With this in mind, we are often asked if the SMS messages being sent by ServiceM8 can be branded with the business name as the sender. The short answer: yes, but with a couple of major caveats, which I’ll cover next.

Understanding Branded SMS

ServiceM8 offers Branded SMS, a handy feature that allows you to send client messages under your business’s name. This means that your customers can instantly recognise these text messages as being from your business, which bolsters your brand image and fosters customer trust.

However, there are two important restrictions associated with the Branded SMS option:

  1. This feature is exclusive to the Premium Plus subscription plan, which costs $349 per month. Therefore, businesses subscribed to the more affordable Starter, Growing, and Premium plans won’t have access to this feature.
  1. Additionally, Branded SMS is only available to subscribers located in Australia or the UK. Hence, customers in Canada, New Zealand, the United States, or any other country won’t be able to use this feature, regardless of their willingness to pay.

If you are an Australian or UK-based business subscribed to the Premium Plus plan, then you’re all set to enjoy the benefits of Branded SMS. Follow these steps to enable Branded SMS in your system: Branded SMS.

If you don’t meet either of these criteria, there’s no need to worry. The next section provides a practical workaround. While it might not perfectly emulate the Branded SMS feature, it is still a valuable tool for reinforcing your brand and ensuring your customers understand that the messages are indeed from your business.

Branded SMS Workaround

Although the Branded SMS feature isn’t available to all subscription tiers or in all countries, I believe there’s a smart workaround that can be equally effective. While this doesn’t replace the Branded SMS feature, it’s the next best thing to informing your clients that the message is indeed from your business.

The strategy? Use SMS message templates and place your business name right at the beginning of the message.

For example, instead of starting your message with

“Your appointment is scheduled for…”,

you can begin with

“[Your Company Name]: Your appointment is scheduled for…”

This simple tweak allows your customers to instantly recognise the message as coming from your business, even though the sender ID may still show as ServiceM8.

Create or Modify your SMS templates

To create or modify your SMS templates, from the Online Dashboard go to Settings, and then SMS Templates. Here you will find the current SMS templates in your system.

To edit an existing SMS template, simply click the ‘Edit’ button corresponding to the SMS template, which will open a window where you can edit the content of your SMS messages.

ServiceM8 SMS templates are enabled to use ‘template fields’, which are special codes wrapped in curly brackets. These fields help you to customise your messages with dynamic information, such as the customer’s first or last name, your business name, and the name of the staff sending the message. To access these fields, simply use the drop-down menu called ‘Insert Fields’.

The field we are especially interested with is the one called ‘Your Company Name’, and the field code is {}.

Now, modify all of your SMS templates by putting {} right at the beginning of each SMS template message, and remembering to ensure the rest of your SMS message reads and sounds correct.

Bonus Tip: Navigate to Job SMS template

One SMS template that may not already be in your ServiceM8 system is the one that is used to send the message to your customer contact after you check-in to a job and tap ‘Notify Client’. By default, this special SMS is formatted as follows:

Hello {job.contact_first},
This is a courtesy message to let you know {staff.first}
from {} is on the way
Please call {} if you are unable to be
at the premises at this time.

To change this default message, you need create your own SMS template to your account with the exact name “Navigate To Job Template” (yes, include the word “Template” at the end).

{}: Hello {job.contact_first}, this is a 
courtesy message to let you know {staff.first} is on
the way {and_will_be_arriving_in_approximately_x_minutes}.
Please call {} if you are unable to be at
the premises at this time.

Note: The approximate arrival time of the tech is determined by the field {and_will_be_arriving_in_approximately_x_minutes}. It’s important to understand that the estimated time of arrival is not available in all conditions, and so your template should take this into account. If no ETA is currently available, the field will be blank. 

Some businesses prefer to exclude the estimated time of arrival altogether, and instead just want to inform the customer that they are on their way without a calculated time of arrival. In this case, simply remove the {and_will_be_arriving_in_approximately_x_minutes} field and modify the message in a way that makes sense. For example,

{}: Hello {job.contact_first}, this is a 
courtesy message to let you know {staff.first} is on
the way. Please call {} if you are unable to
be at the premises at this time.

With SMS templates, you have full control of what goes into your messages and is received by your customers.

Why this Works

While this workaround may not carry the same immediate brand recognition as the Branded SMS feature, it offers several key benefits:

  1. Immediate Recognition: By having your business name upfront, your clients instantly know who the message is from, even before they read the rest of the text.
  1. Consistency: Regular use of this format ensures consistency across all your communications. Over time, your customers will recognise your SMS style and associate it with your business.
  1. Cost-Efficiency: This workaround doesn’t require an upgrade to a more expensive plan. You can continue using your current subscription while keeping your SMS communication distinctly identifiable.
  1. Customisability: By using SMS templates, you can tailor the text content to align with your brand’s tone of voice, further enhancing brand consistency and recognition.

In Conclusion

While the Branded SMS feature of ServiceM8’s Premium Plus subscription is undoubtedly useful, there’s no need to feel left out if your business is on the Starter, Growing, or Premium plans. By smartly utilising SMS message templates and strategically placing your business name in your messages, you can ensure your SMS communications are immediately recognised as coming from your business. This strategy, while simple, is a cost-effective way to enhance brand recognition, improve customer trust, and ultimately, grow your business.