Last month, at Salesforce Live: Australia & New Zealand, the team at BISK Education, a prominent online-training management firm in Florida, let us in on how they’ve used the 360 SMS app to help educational institutions across geographies take training programs online on the heels of the COVID 19 outbreak.
Here’s a look at some snippets from their conversation
with 360’s Customer Success Manager, Sonam Malhotra:
For the benefit of our listeners ( or readers) could you please give us a brief of what you work on as a company?
“Primarily, we help educational institutions take their operations online, besides offering a corporate buffet of online options like online corporate training across Florida.”
What needs are you looking at, and why are you looking to go online?
“We live by the motto of ‘identifying potential’, and with a COVID 19 virus, we wanted to help institutions provide a safe environment to learn and grow. We represent several accomplished universities and help them do this more often.
This helps them expand their communication strategy which they’d have to eventually do, and provide convenience to students.”
What made you turn to 360SMS for texting solutions?
“Between the three of us (the Bisk core team: Lindsay, Jason, Nicole), we have over 30 combined years of experience at BISK.
Aside from us, there’s a ‘Tiger team’ here when it comes to automated technology. After purchasing other texting solutions several times in the past, they’d understood how much custom code would be needed. So, they ran a competency analysis and search that started with 15 vendors, which narrowed down to 6 vendors, and then to 3
– but it was clear early on that 360 SMS would come out on top.
Also students wanted to text, but the other solutions we used weren’t giving us everything to do that meaningfully. For one thing, they didn’t get us any analytics to work with and make decisions. Other solutions would simply enable a ‘bulk message upload and send’ tool, which did very little for students and teachers. This made us look for a better solution for BISK which we’d set tough criteria for.
More specifically, we wanted:
- Salesforce Nativity.
- 1-on-1 engagement for students.
- Enough access and customizability to allow process builders and automation in Salesforce to be able to build SMS into our Salesforce journeys naturally.
- Wanted to save money overall.
360 SMS checked all those boxes and then some.”
Could you draw on your first impressions of the app’s first run from memory?
What was that like?
“For starters, we’d discovered new possibilities and options like things you could do with drip campaigns and iText – and it just blew us away.
Also the aim was to go toward less platform maintenance tweaking and growing business instead. And we’ll have to say, this has been the most seamless, fastest implementation we’ve had – and we’ve been on some that have taken months, even years, so that’s saying something.
We were able to download the managed package within minutes, which is standard, but with the package came with such extensive documentation for self-help, and knowledge transfer, that we could truly take the platform further ourselves as we grew, and of course, we had you for support throughout to help configure the platform.”
It’s like we say.
360SMS doesn’t take over 5 minutes to configure yourself and the Knowledge Transfer is always complete,
but you still have something to ask or configure, we’re always a phone-call away.
Speaking of features and usage, what were the most important features of 360SMS implemented
and how were they helpful?
“With students, 1-to-1 Conversations really helped us understand value. It’s let us do so much, without any of the custom code you’d have to write for other contemporaries. 360SMS also lets you use consistent sender details for messages to get responses back to the right lead owners in one place. This one was an instant hit with us, because there was no way the admins could hand off every response they got to the broadcast messages back to sales teams. The ‘Stick Sender’ lets you go beyond SMS blasts to take care of the next steps by letting the right users take care of the right responses. This makes even more sense when blasts are scaled over to millions of recipients. It lets our sales teams take over after creating inquiries and opportunities.
And then, to reiterate, we’re very analytics driven and wanted hard numbers to monitor strategic success. We had record and attribution models in Salesforce already so we could with 360SMS we could build user-ports and assessment methods to be smarter with our strategy. It also let us modify and throttle campaigns we conducted online experiences.
These capabilities made 360 SMS incomparable to other vendors we’d explored. Also, with 360 SMS, we like that you’ll need only a license and phone number to add new users to Salesforce.”
Coming to a texting staple, how does BISK use bulk texting and manage responses?
“We have some intake processes for requests from marketing teams and student help teams. They follow certain general calendars, but what they’re really doing is supporting student journeys with application forms and enrollment forms through scheduling tools throughout the journey. Here, Sticky Sender is an admin’s best friend and redirects responses to the right place, freeing them up to do better tasks, while 1-on-1 Conversations let us filter responses by keywords and send back personalized answers. Even to be able to send bulk messages through reports has helped. The sheer size of lists and convenience of messaging with resorts makes complete sense and saves us lots of work.
(Eventually we’re looking to automate bulk messages instead of doing them manually.)”
If your admins had to pick a favorite feature, what would it be?
“We used ‘Dark Hours’ used to send out SMS to student’s own time zones ( instead of limiting texting times to our own time zones), without disturbing students when they’re sleeping.
That helped us make communications effective and engage with students at a time of their choosing.”
Now for the big question – how’ve you held up after the pandemic?
How did 360SMS adapt to these new waters?
“Universities in COVID hotspots were struggling with what they were going to do in the fall
We were in the fortunate position to be able to help these universities to jump to safe online environments. A big part of our ability to do all that was Salesforce and being able to keep all community data safe there
Having 360 SMS on top of that helped us quickly change and adapt our communication strategy to communicate faster and more efficiently.”
With you being in the business of sending out communications for registration processes in the educational industry and dealing with opportunities, how have 360’s Drip Campaigns helped you?
“A lot of what we do is to help students bridge the gap between what they’ve done before and what they need to do to become a ‘full-student’. This often means they’ll need to create new habits. To schedule messages for this, I could use drip campaigns to send out messages with zero experience in process builders and flows. This would let even non-tech floor-representatives could relate opportunities and schedule drips. We could also create generic drip campaigns with approved templates to meet compliance, we can also set up repeat sends.
All of these force-multiplying capabilities have really helped our lean teams and high performing employees cover much, much more ground.”
What have been your experiences of scheduling SMS through Process Builder?
“If you have any amount of reporting acumen, even say writing SQL (which you also don’t need with 360 SMS), then you’ll easily be able to send students messages according to their registration progress, eg: encouragement texts if students get far enough in their registration process.
And you can schedule these without worrying that a representative is going to forget because reps won’t need to do anything. And the best part is, because of Sticky Sender, students still get the personal feeling of peer-to-peer messaging, as though as representative were reaching out to them personally”
How game-changing has Link Tracking & Shortening in 360SMS been for marketing?
“We use Marketo for our Marketing automation, lead generation, and landing pages
And it just integrates so well with 360SMS. While exploring the app with our Marketo team we stumbled upon lots of things. One of them was the discovery that, they could now just create a task in Salesforce, place the message they want in the comments of that task, which we can pull out to send texts, and from thereon, only the Marketo team had to keep and maintain Salesforce templates. Coming back to link tracking, we generally use the tiny URL in our text messages for CTA.
Link Tracking in 360 SMS gave us the visibility we wanted, to be able to see if recipients and students have completed interactions with those CTAs, like read receipts. You can simply hover over a link sent to see how many times it was opened by the student. (or if it was opened at all)
But we found the act of links one behind the other rather tedious. So we wondered messages contain more than one link, and to our surprise, we found that 360SMS would let us track engagement and click for all our multiple multiple links sent over just 1 message.”
We’ve worked closely for the past few years, and we know product capabilities need to speak for themselves, but the support end needs to be just as strong.
Tell us about your experience with our customer service 360SMS. How’s that been?
“We’re inquisitive and ask a ton of questions, even at times that are odd for you, but you’re always available. The 360 team is very patient and always gets on calls and walks us through things whenever we need it. We’d already sent out over 100000 text messages effectively, with barely 60-90 days of having the product setup, and our reps are also happy with 1-to-1 texting, as well as all the new opportunities coming their way.
Customer service has been excellent, and I’m pretty sure you guys don’t sleep. And you’re just really that quick to respond. You’ve also kept us posted for any resolutions beforehand, which has helped us prevent setting anything in motion that could cause failure down the road. Also We love working with your team and fellow Trailblazers, and we love having the opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other and learn from them. We can easily say this has been the best support experience we’ve had with any project, by-far.”
Finally, what recommendations do you have for the Education industry when it comes to using Salesforce more effectively?
“They need to understand that students only want to interact with them on their own time when it’s convenient for them.
Also, for anything that you can do in Apex code, there’s a pretty good chance that you can always do it better without code – it’s a philosophy Salesforce embraces fully, and you should too.”