SMS Chatbots: Using Twilio and SnatchBot to Drive Engagement

SMS Chatbots: Using Twilio and SnatchBot to Drive Engagement

SnatchBot Team SnatchBot Team, 11/09/2019

SMS Chatbots: Using Twilio and SnatchBot to Drive Engagement

Plenty of smartphone users are more in-touch with their friends and family through SMS message apps than they are through social media and other tools, especially among the older demographics. Businesses are also using SMS for a range of uses, mostly around appointments and services, yet the rise of chatbots makes them a natural way to engage via SMS using Twilio and SnatchBot to build a clever service without the need for deep technical knowledge.

The modern SMS app on an iPhone or Android device is just as effective as Facebook Messenger and other services, but it has some critical advantages. SMS works when 4G connections are down, it works in places where connectivity is spotty and every phone owner knows how to use it.

Those advantages mean that any business looking to adopt a chatbot should consider running it as part of its SMS service as well as on websites, apps and social media messaging to ensure a way to engage and connect with users, whatever their preference and technology skills.

Why Use SMS Chatbots?

Think about the trades you use: garage, dentist, electrician or couriers are just some of the trades we all use and all employing SMS to confirm and allow us to change appointments. Millions of these messages are sent every day to customers, allowing the business to maximise efficiency and save on wasted calls or work time.

Businesses may also find they are sending large numbers of messages to workers (couriers, engineers, sales agents and so on) internal business chatbots can use a chatbot on SMS to streamline or expand the process to help with efficiency.

Another valuable use case is the ever-useful, quick-user survey, which can be tacked onto a common engagement to find out how the customer values the business, its services and this method of communication. Getting data from chatbots, even SMS versions is a key way to improve the business service. 

Ideas and Plans for SMS Chatbots

At the bare minimum, an SMS business chatbot can offer the same level of basic text interactivity. But it can also offer much more, boosting engagement and adding value. SMS chatbots can easily allow for upselling of orders, turning a plain car service into a golden car service through a special deal or offer. Florists can send messages using previous sales to remind you of important dates or events and suggest the right type of floral arrangement or something special.

SMS chatbots could also be used for marketing messaging, customer service beyond appointments, and operations. Chatbots or automated SMS chatbot services can also check-in when products, replacement parts or consumables are in need of change, when a new appointment is needed, or whenever your business needs to get in touch. That might have been a personal pleasure when your company was starting up, but as the business grows, automated response saves you time and helps the customer arrange those times to suit them or to get the deal or product they want quickly and without waiting for you to be available.

SnatchBot for Chatbots And Twilio To Drive SMS Engagement

Given the growing use and press coverage, many developers will find their business leaders suddenly gaining an interest in chatbots. When asking “how do I build a Chatbot with SMS” there is a range of as-a-service, cloud-based solutions to choose from to build a demo, prototype or fully-fledged product.

Given the ubiquity of SMS, having a chatbot that can make use of the service makes sense for most businesses. There are plenty of services available for building chatbots, but SnatchBot is free to use, and chatbots are easy to create and easy to link to the likes of Twilio and other platforms, making them ideal for building a bot that will run on SMS.

How An SMS Chatbot Works

Building a chatbot in SnatchBot is a matter of building the conversation using the built-in design tools, on top of Python. Developers can use natural language processing (NLP) features if needed, but most SMS chatbots will work fine with a script to drive the conversation based on customer and company needs.

SnatchBot and Twilio can integrate through API, linking the services. In SnatchBot add Twilio as a channel, and log in with your Twilio account to get going. SMS chatbot logic is the same as most chatbots and there are plenty of examples and library templates to help build one quickly. 

For security-conscious use cases, Twilio can function without revealing personal phone numbers, bouncing texts or calls from one phone to the cloud, then back to the recipient, without using personal numbers. bouncing texts and calls from one phone to the cloud, then back to the recipient, without using personal numbers.

Do remember that in most customer cases, you will need to get their permission or an opt-in for SMS texts, as part of a sign up or agreement process. You will also need to follow any local text messaging or marketing laws in the areas you are sending text chats to.

Covering all Bases with Chatbots and SMS

While the marketing and customer service market is already rushing along with the PR drive to virtual agents, smart home boxes and other ways to engage with customers, SMS and current chatbots will remain a high-volume and perfectly acceptable way to communicate with loyal or broad bases of customers or workers.

The less technology there is between the user and the message service, the more reliable it is, the more likely people are to rate it highly and use it repeatedly. Whatever your developer or business plans, working with chatbots will work more smoothly if you start out with traditional chatbots and scale up as new technologies come on-stream, rather than shooting for the high-end and finding a project fails miserabl