East Africa is one of Telerivet’s larger user hubs, and this February we visited some of our customers in Tanzania to see how they use Telerivet, and to get ideas and suggestions for how to improve the service.
We’re happy to announce that we’ve already launched several of their ideas and suggestions as new Telerivet features! Here’s what’s new:
Multiple Contacts with the Same Phone Number
In Dar es Salaam, Grace Schools uses Telerivet to narrow the gap between teachers and parents of more than 1,000 students. Teachers can easily manage communication threads with parents, and broadcast information such as school announcements and homework assignments.
The headmaster showed us how they’ve been using Telerivet, and provided some valuable feedback: Some children share the same parents, and hence share the same phone number. When a single contact in Telerivet could refer to two or more children, it was cumbersome to use Telerivet to keep track of information for each student.
In response to their feedback, Telerivet has now added the ability to add multiple contacts with the same phone number. This will help many types of organizations that need to keep track of multiple people at the same phone number – not only schools, but also m-health programs communicating with new parents, and youth sports leagues, too.
When multiple contacts have the same phone number, you can send outgoing messages to a particular contact and Telerivet will store the conversations separately. If you receive an incoming message on a phone number that matches multiple contacts, Telerivet will automatically assign the message to the most recent conversation.
Shared Phones and Shortcodes
Based in Arusha, Tanzania, Farm Radio International supports dozens of radio stations which use Telerivet to poll their listeners via SMS and missed calls. Recently, Farm Radio acquired a SMS shortcode to make it easier for more radio listeners to participate in polls.
Each radio station has their own Telerivet project, but a single phone or shortcode could only be used in one project at a time. They needed a solution that would allow sharing their one shortcode among several Telerivet projects.
Thanks to their feedback, we’ve added a feature to make it possible to share a single phone in multiple projects – which works whether you use a shortcode, virtual number, or Android phone.
If your organization has multiple Telerivet projects, you can configure which projects a phone is shared in from your Phones page. Click the phone you want to share, then click “Edit Settings”, then select the projects in the “Sharing” section:
Routing incoming messages to the correct project is easy – just create a service with the Rules Engine, add one or more “If … then …” conditions to match particular messages, then use the new “Copy message to project” action.
For example, the rules below copy any messages starting with the word “arusha” to the project for a radio station in Arusha, while copying any messages starting with “moshi” to the project for a radio station in Moshi:
In addition to routing messages based on keywords (as in the example above), it’s also possible to route messages depending on the contact’s groups or custom variables.
Manually Triggering Services for Contacts
While in Arusha, I was invited to the Arusha Coders Meetup to demo Telerivet’s API. To my surprise, the developer seated next to me was already a Telerivet user!
He liked using the Rules Engine to automatically handle incoming messages, but it was missing a way to define rules that he could run manually, when he wanted.
We have now added the ability to define custom rules that can be manually triggered for one or more contacts. This makes several new things possible with Telerivet. For example, you can:
send different messages to contacts, depending on a variable
call third-party APIs for certain contacts
quickly update variables or groups for multiple contacts at once
First, define your if/then conditions and actions with the Rules Engine:
Then from the Contacts page, simply select one or more contacts and trigger your service from the “Actions” menu.
Features from Telerivet Users Worldwide
Of course, even if Telerivet hasn’t visited your organization in person, we’ve still been listening to your ideas and suggestions whenever you contact us for support.
In addition to the new features inspired by Telerivet users in Tanzania, we’ve also recently implemented several features requested by Telerivet users worldwide:
You can pause sending messages from a particular phone, for example if it’s out of credit. (Suggested by a Telerivet user in New Zealand)
You can send a poll via the Rules Engine, for example when someone texts a particular keyword (Suggested by Telerivet users in Indonesia and Kenya)
When two or more polls are active at the same time, Telerivet now uses a better algorithm to figure out which poll each contact’s responses should be assigned to (Inspired by a Telerivet user in Sierra Leone)
When importing contacts, you can add a new group (Suggested by a Telerivet user in Australia)
As we start the fourth year of Telerivet, we’re still working on adding many more new improvements which will launch in the coming months. As always, keep sending us your ideas and suggestions!