Our five favorite things from Zendesk Relate 2018

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Last week Zendesk hosted its Relate 2018 conference at the historic Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Here were our 5 favorite things about Zendesk Relate 2018.

1. First of all, what was comedian Mindy Kaling doing on the main stage at Zendesk Relate? Why, her Kelly Kapoor character from the US television series The Office was a customer service representative at fictitious paper distributor Dunder Mifflin, of course!

2. Omar Johnson, Former CMO at Beats by Dre, inspired the crowd with a keynote presentation about powerful storytelling. One particularly salient point he made: with so many people purchasing goods from Amazon, the last remaining connection between consumers and your brand will be a customer support channel.

3. Zendesk put their logo on a pegboard that acted as a self-serve bagel wall in the morning, and a donut wall between breakfast and lunch.

4. In September Zendesk acquired the software company behind Base, the sales force automation platform. Now that Base has been rebranded as Zendesk Sell, Base's annual Forecast conference took place at Zendesk Relate. We were happy to see Textline users from Dorm Room Movers presenting on the Zendesk Relate main stage as well as the Forecast at Relate side stage.

5. The overall production value of the conference was quite impressive, with fully animated presentation slides and other finely tuned details. We'll definitely see you there next year!

Does your team use Zendesk? Add a powerful text messaging channel to your Zendesk account with Textline. Sign up for a free trial today.

Talkdesk Opentalk 2018 recap

  Textline’s Alan Braverman and Talkdesk’s Patrick Russell discuss business text messaging.

Textline’s Alan Braverman and Talkdesk’s Patrick Russell discuss business text messaging.

The Textline team just returned from Talkdesk's Opentalk18 conference in San Francisco. Here's a recap of two days full of demos, coffee, SWAG, and the best conference food we've ever had.

Opentalk attendees flocked to our booth for demos of Textline's business text messaging and features like announcements and automations. People were particularly interested in Textline's integrations with Zendesk, Salesforce, Shopify, and of course, Talkdesk. (Hey, did we mention that Textline can add powerful text messaging capabilities to your Talkdesk phone numbers? 😉)

Textline CEO Alan Braverman shared his thoughts on the power of business texting to build and nurture more personal relationships between brands and their customers. (Thanks to Patrick Russell at Talkdesk for moderating our fireside chat session.)

We happily gave away lots of Textline SWAG: t-shirts, stickers, sunglasses, and PopSockets.

We had a blast at Opentalk18 and can't wait til next year. If your company wants to add text messaging to your customer service or sales software stack, test out a free trial or just text us at +1 (415) 849-4349.

Textline's new design

Today Textline launched a major update to its platform. In the coming months, we will look back at this milestone and see it as a pivotal launching point of growth. Not just growth for the Textline business or the application, but for our customers. Textline is a customer-first company. That means the decisions we make about features, design, integrations, and so forth are done with our customers’ goals in mind.  Those goals are as varied as our customers who range from the Fortune 500 to the Garage Startup. Big or small, all of our customers have one thing in common; they want to have meaningful and engaging conversations with their customers through text messages. Today's launch helps ensure that those conversations can happen quickly and effectively. If you're a Textline customer there are a couple things that you might notice after logging in.

The first thing you will notice is that the design elements of the interface have been updated. This design change brings the application more in-line with the rest of the identity to create consistency across all Textline experiences. Your experience; from clicking on an advertisement,  getting your textable phone number, and sending your first shortcut message should be consistent. Consistency helps to improve adoption and discovery of features by creating predictability across interactions with Textline. It also has the long-term benefit of making it easier to create new features and integrations in the future.

Speaking of features, the second change you may notice is that some features, objects, and actions have moved. This new design does a better job at organizing the components and sections of the interface. Now, like-minded elements are grouped together and easier to find. Additionally, in the future, this structure will allow us to build more efficiently on top of Textline. Additionally, some rearrangement has been done for the sake of space, while other changes are for clarity. Creating more space in the interface means that we can share more information with our customers without it looking and feeling cramped. In other instances, we can make elements like the global navigation more clear and accessible.

The update today builds on an excellent foundation and sets new standards for moving forward. We can't wait to develop Textline on top of this redesign, and we are excited about the new features and integrations planned for the coming months. Thanks to all of the customers who have provided (and continue to provide) valuable feedback.

Happy Customer Service Week 2018

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The first week of October is Customer Service Week. Thanks to all the hard workers out there who make their customers happy. Here at Textline, we encourage all companies to embrace (rather than deflect) human-to-human conversations with their customers. That's why Textline never sends messages from a "no reply” email address. And we encourage Textline customers to reach out any time by texting us at +1 (415) 849-4349. After all, messaging apps are the most used apps on smartphones today. Why not let your customers text your business? Sign up for a Textline free trial today.

Integrating Salesforce with Textline's business SMS

Salesforce's annual Dreamforce conference has taken over downtown San Francisco, just outside Textline headquarters. Naturally, this is the perfect time to announce that Textline's Salesforce integration is currently in beta release. Textline users interested in connecting your Salesforce account can request early access by texting us at +1 (415) 849-4349. We look forward to hearing your feedback as you try out this new integration.

How JSK Recruiting uses Textline to place job prospects faster

Before he started using Textline, recruiter Jeff Katz used to miss a lot of text messages. The job candidates and hiring managers he works with in the supply chain and manufacturing industries often tried to text his landline.

“Most of my candidates work in manufacturing facilities with bad reception,” says Katz, founder of JSK Recruiting in Park Ridge, Illinois. Bad reception makes phone calls tricky — not to mention the fact that their boss may be nearby. Many would text to say they couldn’t talk because they were working or in a meeting. “I was missing all these text messages before.”

When he did text with clients, it was cumbersome to pull out his phone and work out a better time, or type out company or interview details, with his fingers.

Recruit using a fast and familiar process

Since Katz started using Textline for business texting earlier this year, all that has changed. Now he knows he’s receiving texts from candidates and clients, and he can respond to them quickly from his computer. He can copy and paste names, addresses, and numbers without the risk of typos.

Like 90 percent of recruiters, Katz has found that business texting speeds up his process significantly. “I was hoping it would make things quicker and easier,” he says, “and it has.”

Meanwhile, he is using a mode of communication his candidates are comfortable with. “Especially a lot of the younger generation,” he says — "they’ll have a full conversation via text." In fact, less than five percent of millennials pick up calls from unknown numbers.

Schedule texts, collaborate, use metrics

Textline, which is integrated with Katz’s existing business line, also lets him schedule texts in advance, such as reminders about interviews, including directions and interviewer names and titles. "The candidates really appreciate it," Katz says, "and since doing this I have not had any no-shows for interviews."

Textline’s software also offers auto responses, administrative controls, analytics, and historical data. And coworkers can transfer texts to each other and collaborate.

Now that he's using Textline, he says, Katz feels confident changing JSK's website to say "call or text us."

Find out how Textline can help speed up your recruiting process. Sign up for a free trial today.

Use Automations to send smart auto-responses and more

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Textline admins can use our new Automations feature to compose smart auto-responses and perform other automated actions. For example:

* Send different auto-responses to customers who text your business for the first time, or when they text you outside of business hours, or when no Textline agents are available.

* Automatically assign conversations to a specific agent when customers mention certain keywords, or based on previously applied tags.

* Add or remove tags when customers' issues are resolved.

Learn more about Automations in our help center.

How Bird uses Textline in its quest to revolutionize how you get around town

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A startup called Bird is betting that dockless electric scooters will improve transportation and lessen the need for car ownership. The concept is spreading so quickly that Bird has been deemed the "Uber of electric scooters."

Here's how it works:

* Find a scooter (or "Bird") near you with Bird's mobile app
* Scan the scooter's QR code to book a ride
* Hop on and ride (top speed is 15 miles per hour)
* Leave the scooter at your destination so the next rider can find it

Every night, people called "Chargers" collect the scooters to recharge their batteries and make any necessary repairs. Bird launched last year in Southern California and recently expanded to San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington, DC.

The team at Bird uses Textline's business text messaging to recruit and communicate with their flock of Chargers -- texting them about repairs, charging, and the location of scooters. Before last month's LA Marathon, Bird sent an SMS announcement to 1,000+ Chargers to remind them to respect the runners and make sure no scooters were blocking the course.

According to Bird's Chief Technical Officer, Justin Balthrop, "As a hard core nerd, I was tempted to build my own app for communicating with our teams out in the field. But Textline already had so many of the features that we needed. It's a great software tool and they keep adding new features all the time!"

Your business could use text messaging to recruit staffers and communicate with colleagues out in the field, too. Sign up for a Textline free trial and get a shared textable phone number for your team (or add text messaging to an existing phone number).

Further reading:

* San Francisco Chronicle: Electric scooters for grown-ups now available for rent in San Francisco and San Jose

* TechCrunch: Bird is raising $100 million to become the Uber of electric scooters

* Take a ride on a Bird, yourself: bird.co

Facebook, Data, and Trust

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As the Cambridge Analytica scandal continues to unfold, some users have deleted their Facebook accounts. Others will continue using Facebook but have tightened their privacy settings. After downloading records of personal data collected by Facebook -- to take a look under the hood -- some Android users discovered that Facebook had been logging their personal calls and text messages!

Here at Textline, we are following this story carefully. We take our customers' security and privacy seriously. That's why our privacy policy is written in plain English rather than confusing legalese. We continually monitor the security of our application to ensure our customers' data stays private. Furthermore, throughout 2018 we plan to release additional security and privacy features and settings. If you have any questions about Textline and security, drop us a line by texting +1 (415) 849-4349.

Related reading:

* USA Today provides instructions for downloading your Facebook data and disabling call and text history logging. (link)

* TechCrunch breaks down the question of whether or not Facebook had permission to collect call and SMS logs. (link)

* The Electronic Frontier Foundation explains why a programmer cannot create a software tool that simply fixes your Facebook privacy settings for you. (link)

Does your business text with customers? Sign up for a Textline free trial and get started with business text messaging.

Logos Are Like Conversations

We're excited to announce a new logo for Textline. Like most corporate marks, the reasons for the changes are numerous. We're happy to share a few of those reasons with you. 

We changed the logo because we wanted an identity that would scale with us in the coming years. Textline needs a mark that is contemporary but also boasts the longevity of a classic logotype. We've ditched the outlined chat bubble for a logo that has more weight and presence to it. This weight allows it to change sizes from very small to gigantic without much effort. The filled in "T" is also more legible, holds color well, can be inverted, and has the benefit of being able to stand on its own. There are many other designerly reasons that the new mark works well for Textline, but those are reasons you'd hear about for most any logo update. The main reason for changing our logo was to represent Textline more comprehensively. 

Textline is software for business text messaging. Another way of saying that is, Textline makes conversations happen. We make these conversations happen by giving companies the opportunity to connect with their customers through the more immediate and conversational medium of texting. We wanted a logo that could represent the company name and also reflect the company's inclination toward conversation. This is a challenging goal because we want to avoid a complex solution.  After all, logos are like conversations; They should be subtle, elegant, distinguished, and approachable. 

In the new Textline logo, most people will see the representation of the name in the "T" instantly, but there is more to it than that. Like a good conversation, this merger of ideas has some mystery and subtlety to it, and when you see the chat bubble gently carved from the dense T, you can't unsee it. The result is a mark that represents the name with a "T" and conversations with a chat bubble. It is memorable and lasting. Over the next few months, we will release other aspects of the identity. The new colors, typography, and grids will find their way into our social presence, websites, and applications. We're looking forward to our future of exciting changes and good conversations. If you are like us, and conversations matter to your business, feel free to text us at +1 (415) 849-4349 to find out how Textline can help connect you with your customers.

Connect Textline to your favorite apps with Zapier

Zapier is an online automation tool that connects Textline to thousands of other online apps across the web. It's easy to create your own Zaps, which behave like small programs that follow your instructions. 

For example: If you manage a Shopify store, you might create a Zap that watches your Shopify account for new orders, and then tells your Textline account to send a "thank you" message to each buyer after they check out. In this example, your Zap is triggered by new Shopify orders, and then takes the action of sending a message via Textline. You can automate all sorts of tasks by combining triggers and actions with Zapier.

Textline triggers & actions

Textline makes a single trigger available in Zapier called New Contact Message. This trigger gets fired whenever a contact sends a message to your Textline account.

Textline also makes three actions available in Zapier:

1. Send Message: to send a message from your Textline account to a contact.
2. Import Contact Message: to import a message as if a contact sent it to your Textline account.
3. Create/Update Contact: to add or modify an entry in your Textline address book.

Sample Zap ideas

Here are three example Zaps for inspiration:

1. Get notified when someone registers for an event on Eventbrite. Using Eventbrite's New Attendee trigger, you can copy the attendee's contact info to your Textline address book (using our Create/Update Contact action), then send a notification to your Textline account using our Import Contact Message action. The next time someone buys a ticket to your event, you'll receive a text message as if your attendee texted you as soon as they registered for your event. You can send a follow-up thank you message, or broadcast an important announcement to your attendees before the event. (Make sure your Eventbrite event collects cell phone numbers on your order form.)

2. Use an Unbounce pop-up to initiate conversations with customers. If your business uses Unbounce landing pages, your customers can text you right from a form or pop-up. Create a pop-up with a form that collects name, phone number, and a message. Your Zap will be triggered by Unbounce's New Form Submission trigger, and you'll pass the message to Textline using the Import Contact Message action.

3. Post new inbound Textline messages to Yammer. Keep an eye on questions coming from customers. Create a Yammer group called Textline. Then create a Zap using Textline's New Contact Message trigger and Yammer's Create Message action.

Got any great ideas for Zaps to automate your workflow? Email textline@textline.com

Does your business text with customers? Sign up for a Textline free trial and get a textable phone number in your local area code, or add text messaging capabilities to your existing business phone number.

Related links:

Textline Organization settings: Tools & Integrations (requires admin access)
Textline Help Center: Zapier integration
Zapier blog: Use Textline to Support Your Customers and Answer Prospects via Text

Connect your Shopify store to Textline

Over 600,000 ecommerce businesses run their online stores with Shopify. With Textline's newest integration, Shopify merchants can provide exceptional customer support via text messaging.

* Share a textable phone number with your ecommerce team
* Let customers text your business using plain old text messaging
* View recent Shopify orders alongside SMS conversations
* Keep shoppers happy by resolving issues quickly

Learn more about connecting your Shopify store to your Textline account in the Textline help center.

Does your ecommerce team reply to text messages from shoppers? Sign up for a free trial to add business text messaging to your customer service toolset. Get a textable phone number in your local area code, or add text messaging capabilities to your existing business number.

 

Close deals faster with Textline and Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a sales management tool designed to help small sales teams manage intricate or lengthy sales processes. Pipedrive's interface lets you view your company's sales pipeline to understand which deals are on track to close.

Textline's new Pipedrive integration lets you see text message conversations associated with deals in your sales pipeline. Your Textline admin can connect your Pipedrive account by visiting Organization Settings > Tools & Integrations.

Does your sales team text with customers and prospects? Sign up for a free trial to add business text messaging to your sales toolbox. Get a textable phone number in your local area code, or add text messaging capabilities to your existing business number.

Related links:

Try Pipedrive for free
Textline's app in Pipedrive's Marketplace
- Upcoming webinar: A guided tour of Textline

Introducing Textline for Talkdesk users

If your business uses Talkdesk's call center software, you can now add business text messaging to your Talkdesk account with Textline's AppConnect app. Your team can share a textable phone number to text with customers. In addition to standard text messaging, Textline provides features like auto-responses, broadcast announcements, scheduled messages, shortcuts for FAQs, response time metrics, and more. Learn more on Talkdesk's blog.

Refer a friend to Textline: They get something & you get something

Got a friend who could use Textline's business text messaging? Textline users can score Amazon gift cards (up to $50) for spreading the word. Here's how it works:

1. Tell a friend: Spread the word about Textline and share your unique invitation link, found on your profile settings page.

2. Give something: When your friends sign up for Textline, they'll get an extra week added to their free trial, as long as they use your invitation link.

3. Get something: If your friend continues using Textline after their trial period, you'll get an Amazon gift card worth up to $50. (Gift card value depends on the pricing plan chosen by your friend's organization.)

Full details on Textline's customer referral program can be found in our Help Center.

Does your business text with customers? Sign up for a Textline free trial and get a textable phone number in your local area code, or add text messaging capabilities to your existing business phone number.

Boost your productivity with power user features

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Looking to supercharge your productivity? Here are a few tips for Textline power users that might help.

1. Search by tag

If you use tags to group your Textline contacts, you can search your address book for all entries matching a specific tag. You can also search for conversations with contacts matching a tag. Just search for tag:query and replace the word query with one of your tags. See the example pictured below. Learn more about using tags in the Textline Help Center.

One way to tag your address book is to import a spreadsheet full of contacts with tags. Learn more about importing contacts.

2. Share links to specific conversations

You can copy and paste links to specific Textline conversations for your own notes, to-do list, or to share with teammates. You can copy links from the message input box. See the screen shot pictured below. Links to conversations are only usable by people who have access to your Textline account and are signed in. Learn more in the Textline Help Center.

3. Use URL parameters to initiate outbound messages

Have you ever wished you could initiate a Textline conversation by tapping a link or button in another application or your own internal software tools? You can, if you understand how to construct URLs and how to encode URL parameters. For example, the URL below will initiate a message from your Textline account to the phone number +1 (415) 969-4136 with the message "Tell me more about how real estate professionals use Textline."

https://application.textline.com/conversations?phone_number=%2B14159694136&name=Textline%20for%20Real%20Estate&message=Tell%20me%20more%20about%20how%20real%20estate%20professionals%20use%20Textline.

The three parameters appended to this URL are: 

phone_number: The recipient's phone number will be added to your Textline address book if it is not already there. Note that we encoded the "+" before the full 10-digit phone number in this example.

name: The recipient's name will also be added to your Textline address book, and needs to be encoded just like any other URL parameter.

message: The message will populate Textline's text input box, but you can edit the message before you tap Send. See the example pictured below.

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You can streamline your workflow by strategically placing Textline URLs where and when you need them. (You may need help from an HTML or web pro.) We'd love to hear how your organization uses any of these features. Send an email to textline@textline.com or text us at +1 (415) 849-4349.

Does your business respond to text messages from customers? Sign up for a Textline free trial and get a textable phone number in your local area code, or add text messaging capabilities to your existing business phone number.

New feature: custom address book fields

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Organizations can now expand the Textline address book by adding whatever custom fields are relevant to a particular business use case. There are 5 different custom field types:

1. Single-line text fields can be used for just about any data you can imagine. Examples: company name, job title, birthday, nickname, maiden name, salesperson, account manager's name, user ID.

2. Use links to store URLs associated with a contact, such as a personal or business web page. Links can also be used for contacts' social media profiles on Facebook or Twitter. You may also want to store links to your organization's internal admin tools.

3. Email fields are for email addresses, naturally. Textline displays email addresses as clickable links.

4. Multi-line text fields can be used for longer entries such as customer preferences or special delivery instructions.

5. Use a checkbox for boolean values. For example, if new customers need to be approved or verified in some way, a Textline agent can mark a checkbox to indicate that.

Once you've added custom fields to your Textline address book, you can use the field names as column headers when importing contacts, too. For instructions with screen shots, see Textline's help center.

Note: Textline users must have admin access to add or edit custom address book fields. This feature is not available on the limited pricing plan.

Does your business respond to text messages from customers? Sign up for a Textline free trial and get a textable phone number in your local area code, or add text messaging capabilities to your existing business phone number.