SS&E Text Messaging Tips & Best Practices

Overview

This article is intended to provide helpful tips for utilizing the SS&E Text Messaging feature.

In addition to this information, you can find further information in the Watermark Help Center SS&E Support Articles. These articles will provide more of an in-depth overview and answer frequently asked questions. 

Text Messaging Settings

Two-Way text messaging is another message delivery method for messages sent from within SS&E.  Texting works very similar to the email messaging feature in SS&E as it allows a user to send a text message to their caseload, by tag, by program, by degree, by risk level, by course, by ID# etc. similar to email messaging options.

The SMS Configuration administrative settings in SS&E allows an institution to automatically Opt-In students to text messaging and set a default Phone Type associated with phone numbers the institution can send text messages to.

How does a Texting number get assigned?

When a (non-student) user sends a text message for the first time, SS&E will automatically assign a SMS phone number to the sender, and that number will remain associated with the sender and used to send out all text messages from that sender to other users.

Who can send Text Messages?

SMS Configuration Administration settings determine which user roles are allowed to send text messages from within SS&E.

  • Only these roles will be permitted to send SMS messages through SS&E.
  • All users may respond to SMS messages regardless of their role.

Message Delivery Method Icons

Mail or Mobile Icons will appear in the Message area of SS&E indicating how a message was delivered.

  • An envelope icon represents email message delivery method.
  • A mobile phone icon represents text message delivery method.

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Opt-Out Message

Students will receive an initial text that includes Opt-Out language. 

A sample of what the initial opt-out language looks like when receiving a text from SS&E is:

"You have been opted-in to receive messages from (staff name). Text STOP at any time to stop receiving messages. This message is intended for (student name)."

Opting Out of Text Messaging

Some students may not want to receive text messages.

When a student receives a text message from Watermark Student Success & Engagement for the first time, they can choose to opt out of future text messages.

After a student opts out, any further messages that are attempted to be sent by text message will be delivered by email instead.

Once a student opts out, the message they receive is:

"You have successfully been unsubscribed.  You will not receive any more messages from this number.  Reply START to re-subscribe."

Text Message Replies

When a message appears on a mobile device as a text message, the recipient can reply to the text message so that the text message reply is recorded within SS&E and the person they are replying to receives an email message notification.

Which SS&E Person Phone Numbers can receive Text Messages?

Something to note is that a (non-student) end-user can manually change the phone numbers that are allowed to receive text messages from within the Person Profile phone numbers displayed in SS&E

This will allow a phone number associated with a non-default phone type to receive SMS text messages.  

Text Messaging Helpful Tips

Tip:  

Texting follows role-based security permissions assigned within SS&E

Within the SS&E Administrative screens, SMS Configuration Settings include the role-based security for text messaging capabilities. 

SS&E dynamic role-based security can be utilized to develop a dynamic role that is used just for text messaging capabilities.

This may be useful to consider if you are limiting which individuals can utilize the text messaging functionality.  For more about this setup, click here.

SS&E offers different texting packages for our institutions.  Please contact your Client Success Manager to learn more about pricing for the different options. 

Tip: 

Within the SS&E Admin page you can create a “Texting” role.

Simply create a dynamic texting role, add it to the SMS Configuration permitted roles, and then add it to the Security tab of anyone who should be granted access to Send Text Messages. 

Tip: 

To check how many messages are left on your plan at any given point, navigate to the SS&E Admin page and select Messaging Administration, then select SMS Configuration and select the Twilio tab. From there scroll down to the "Message Limit" where you can view the text messaging usage information. 

This represents the number of messages sent this month and the limit of how many SMS messages your institution can send per month. Once this has been exceeded all outbound SMS messages are sent by email instead.

Tip:

When initiating a text message, you are able to see the number or characters remaining.

However, if deciding to utilize a dropdown variable to customize the message, the character count will no longer be valid due to variations within that selected variable.

A warning icon (exclamation point) will be displayed if an individual chooses to use the SS&E dropdown variables. 

Text Messaging Best Practices:

Before getting started with any new feature within SS&E, our Technical Consulting team recommends thinking through a three-step process.  

  1.   Strategy
    1. What is the strategy for using SS&E text messaging?  Who will use text messaging? How will we make sure that the right phone numbers are recorded and updated in our SIS so they will flow over into SS&E?  How can our institution better collect up to date phone numbers and allow for students to easily update their contact information? How are we tracking the cell phone numbers during the student onboarding process? 
    2. An institution should start to think through the following items to help with the strategy to use Text Messaging at the institution. 
  2. Configuration
    1. What roles will be added to the text messaging set up?  What is the default phone type that will be used? 
    2. An institution will then start to determine how will text messaging be set up and configured into the system. 
  3. Awareness and Training
    1. Develop the rollout plan.  Have training materials available.  Schedule and train all users on the text messaging module.  Provide best practices. 
    2. After configuration and during the training, have individuals send a test text message to a test student in the SS&E environment.  This will provide a number for the sender. Once a number is provisioned, make sure to note that Text Only number to use in student communications. 
    3. Staff should communicate to students they will begin to use Texting and that students may respond. 
    4. Students should be made aware of the Text Only number and begin to communicate with the students through text messaging.  
  4. Lastly, an institution should prepare, train and set expectations on how text messaging will be used. 
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