fmSMS Now Supports New Quiubas SMS API

fmSMS now supports the new Quiubas SMS API. Quiubas originally started as an SMS Gateway delivering to Mexico and now delivers to other countries in Latin America, including:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Guadalupe
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Puerto Rico
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

You can download a trial version of fmSMS to test with the Quiubas SMS Gateway from here – please get in touch if you have any questions about using fmSMS and the updated Quiubas SMS Gateway

fmSMS Updated for Telstra Messaging API v2

Back in 2015 Telstra, Australia’s biggest mobile phone operator, launched a beta of their SMS Messaging API and fmSMS was one of the first commercial solutions to support the Telstra API. Telstra have recently released v2 of their Messaging API which includes a number of new features including:

  • dedicated number: you can provision an Australian mobile number for your account via the API
  • send SMS and MMS messages
  • receive messages to your dedicated number
  • delivery status: query the delivery status of your messages
  • callbacks: automatic notifications of message delivery status to a callback URL
  • alphanumeric sender ID support
  • concatenation: send messages up to 1900 characters long and Telstra will automatically segment and reassemble them
  • scheduled delivery: delay the delivery of submitted messages

Now that the Messaging API is out of beta there are a number of plans to choose from. You can start with a free trial which includes 1000 free messages and a dedicated mobile number. They also have a PAYG plan with no fixed term contract and messages are 6c per message, as well as an Enterprise plan.

You can download a trial version of fmSMS from the fmSMS website to test the Telstra SMS API using their Free Trial. When you purchase fmSMS you get the PHP files to use for automatic delivery status updates and automatic replies into fmSMS. Please contact us if you have any questions about fmSMS and the Telstra Messaging API.

fmSMS and FileMaker Cloud

FileMaker Cloud, FileMaker Inc’s cloud-based platform for managing and running custom apps, was officially launched one year ago this month. FileMaker Cloud gives you the simplicity and performance of the FileMaker Platform without spending time and resources deploying and maintaining a server

FileMaker Cloud runs on the Amazon Web Services Cloud (AWS) and was originally only available for customers in the United States and Canada (AWS Regions of Oregon and N. Virginia). This was extended to Europe, the Middle East and Africa in March 2017 (AWS regions of Ireland and Frankfurt) and Japan, Canada and Australia in July 2017 (AWS regions of Sydney, Canada and Tokyo).

There are a number of important differences between FileMaker Cloud and the traditional version of FileMaker Server for Mac/Windows – it’s worth remembering that FileMaker Cloud is not FileMaker Server as not all FileMaker Server features are available in FileMaker Cloud. FileMaker have a comparison between FileMaker Server and FileMaker Cloud that outlines the differences in various categories – some of the features of FileMaker Server not currently available in FileMaker Cloud that have implications for fmSMS include:

  • Custom Web Publishing with PHP and XML
  • Scheduled Scripts in the FileMaker Server Admin Console

There are no issues using a FileMaker Cloud hosted version of fmSMS and the FileMaker Pro client application to send messages as all communication with the SMS Gateway when sending messages is handled by FileMaker Pro. We’re currently working on support for using Perform Script on Server – this requires a new Linux version of the plug-in to run under FileMaker Cloud which runs on CentOS Linux.

We’re currently testing this and hope to have an update shortly. Please note that server side schedule scripts are not currently supported on FileMaker Cloud – you will have to use Perform Script on Server for any server side script operations. Perform Script on Server is used by FileMaker Go and FileMaker WebDirect clients when accessing a hosted version of FileMaker Server to send messages. Now that FileMaker Pro v16 includes native support for JSON and cURL we will be able to use native functions to communicate with the SMS Gateways without requiring a FileMaker plug-in, so FileMaker Go and FileMaker WebDirect clients will be able to send messages directly without having to perform server side scripts that required a plug-in to be installed on FileMaker Server.

For receiving incoming messages/replies most of the SMS Gateways push incoming messages to a PHP file running on your FileMaker Server/Web Server. This uses the Custom Web Publishing with PHP feature of FileMaker Server – FileMaker Cloud does not support Custom Web Publishing so you will not be able to use the FileMaker Cloud to receive incoming messages using the supplied PHP pages. Some SMS Gateways do allow you to ‘poll’ periodically for new messages and download these from the SMS Gateway – see our Getting Started guide for further details.

We’re also investigating using the new FileMaker Data API to receive incoming messages – this is currently offered as a trial version with FileMaker Server v16 and is not currently available with FileMaker Cloud, so we will most likely wait until FileMaker Inc. release the shipping version and have finalised the licensing model and included this with FileMaker Cloud.

Reduce No-Shows with SMS Appointment Reminders

If you’re running an appointment based business you’re probably painfully aware of the cost of no-shows and missed appointments. Whether you’re taking bookings for an office based business (doctor, dentist, hairdresser etc) or for onsite appointments (building inspections, electricians, plumbers etc) it’s important to have a system in place to remind your customers about the upcoming appointment in advance.

Integrating reminders into the daily workflow of your appointment based business has a number of important benefits:

  • decreases appointment no-shows. We’re all human and sometimes we just forget to enter the appointment into our diary, but being reminded helps prevent no-shows or gives customers a chance to cancel or reschedule. It also allows you to fill your calendar if someone cancels with other waitlisted customers
  • maximises the convenience to the customer by allowing them to receive reminders on their mobile phone which they generally have with them at most times. They can also choose to respond if necessary from their phone at a time of their choosing
  • reduce the number of outbound and inbound calls and staff playing telephone tag

SMS messaging has emerged to be a preferred channel for customer communication including appointment reminders. I personally receive SMS reminders for the majority of my appointments (everything from car repairs/servicing to dental appointments). There are a number of advantages of SMS appointment reminders including:

  • SMS/TXT messaging is available on every mobile phone – there’s no need to download an app. It will work just as well on a Nokia from the 1990s as it will on the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy and doesn’t require an Internet/data connection
  • sending txt messages is immediate and asynchoronous – it doesn’t require you and your customer to be talking to each other at the same time. You can send an appointment reminder to a customer and they can read the message and reply if needed at a time that is convenient to them
  • 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of being received and have a a 5X higher open rate than email
  • Cost effective – compared to a physical mail out or phone calls SMS appointment reminders are very cost effective

We’ve helped many small businesses implement an SMS based appointment reminder system into their daily workflows, including:

  • a removal business sends appointment reminders to both customers and truck drivers 2 days in advance confirming the upcoming appointment
  • a hairdresser automatically sends out appointment reminders 3 days before each appointment using a FileMaker Server scheduled script
  • a physiotherapist sends out birthday congratulations to all their customers automatically on their birthday with special offers using a FileMaker Server scheduled script

Appointment reminders can be sent by a staff member each day (for example to remind everyone about appointments tomorrow) or scheduled to be sent automatically by FileMaker Server. You can also take advantage of 2 way messaging to allow your customers to send a reply via SMS which is routed directly back into your FileMaker solution. One customer was able to replace a process that took 2 staff members over 90 minutes to contact all customers to confirm their appointments for the next day with an automated SMS reminder system that sends out hundreds of appointment reminders in under 5 minutes.

If you would like to discuss integrating SMS appointment reminders into your FileMaker solution please contact us for a free initial consultation to discuss your requirements. Our fmSMS solution is also available if you would like to have your existing in-house/external FileMaker developer perform an integration using our ready made solution.