Messages that are sent from a mobile device into our system are called "mobile-originated" messages or "MO" for short. When these messages are sent the TextPower system reacts differently depending on what the contents of the message are. The following is a summary of the various types of MOs and how they are processed in the TextPower flow:
- Keywords - a keyword is a word that is sent to opt-in to a service. While opt-ins are not always required for various services, such as for utilities (who have the undisputed right to send informational or emergency messages to their customer members as per the FCC's TCPA declaratory ruling), the process of "opting in" - which can be viewed as giving permission to the service to send you specific types of messages - is required for certain types of messages. When someone opts-in to receive these messages they receive a reply message with text that TextPower customers can specify (although there are carrier requirements that apply in certain circumstances).
Marketing messages in particular require a proactive opt-in that demonstrates consent from the mobile user. If the keyword is, for example, "lights" then whenever the word "lights" is received by the TextPower system on the short code or dedicated toll-free number (TFN) which our customer is using, we send a reply that contains specific information required by cellular carriers in addition to a brief message from the company that is providing the service. If ABC Electric Cooperative has the keyword "lights" then the message might be, "You are now opted into the ABC Electric text messaging service. Msg&Data rates may apply. Reply HELP for more or STOP to quit."
Note that the same message will be sent whenever someone texts "lights" regardless of whether the mobile number is already opted in, no matter how many times it is sent.
TextPower also provides a special function called an "auto-welcome" message that works on the keyword, too, but is sent only the first time that the mobile number texts the keyword. This allows TextPower customers to create a one-time "welcome" message that is sent to users in addition to the standard keyword reply that they receive. So the first time, and the first time only that the mobile number texts the keyword they would receive both the auto-welcome and the reply message. Sending the keyword after that would generate only the reply message.
- Command Words (also referred to as "carrier required" words) - are words that the cellular carriers require TextPower to respond to in a special way. In particular the words HELP, STOP, QUIT and CANCEL all must be handled differently than keywords; anyone who sends any of those words must receive a response which is determined by whether they are opted into a keyword or not. STOP, QUIT and CANCEL all have the same function - they opt the mobile number out of the keyword and discontinue any further messages from being sent. If a user is opted into multiple keywords then they must text KEYWORD STOP or STOP KEYWORD to opt-out of a specific keyword.
When a user texts STOP they will receive a message stating that they will no longer receive messages for that keyword and that if they have stopped the messages in error they can reply with the keyword to re-opt-in to that keyword and resume receiving messages.
Texting HELP generates a special response that contains information on how to stop receiving messages and where to go for support. A phone number (preferably a toll-free number) and an email address should be provided to TextPower for us to set up your HELP response in accordance with carrier compliance requirements.
It is important to note that TextPower does not have any flexibility in the language used in these Command Words - carrier compliance requirements mandate specific language is used.
- Action Words - are words that are designed to prompt a special action that differs from either a Keyword or a Command Word. For example, many of TextPower's utility customers want to offer their members the ability to report an outage or request the status of a power restoration, so TextPower has reserved the words "out", "outage" and "status" (which can also be preceded by a "#" to distinguish them from other words, e.g., "#out") for use for this purpose. Typically when TextPower receives a mobile-originated message with one of these Action Words we forward the contents of the message to the partner that the utility company uses for their outage management (OMS), billing or customer information system. When the partner who runs, for example, the OMS, receives the content of the message that we forward to them (using a computer-to-computer process called a "POST") they take action on that word and then may direct TextPower to send a reply to the mobile user.
The utility member might text "out" for example and then TextPower sends that to the partner running the OMS. That partner will recognize the word "out" and then match the phone number from which the message was sent (which we include in the POST) to their account records. They will create an outage ticket in the same way that a ticket would be automatically created after a phone call to an automated or manually operated system. The messaging system can then be queried by the user with the Action Word "status" which we will also forward to the OMS operator and the OMS operator will check the status in their system and direct TextPower to send a specific reply containing the most updated information.
These Action Words can be used to streamline operations, reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction. Customers want the convenience, speed and accuracy of text messages instead of waiting on hold. Our text messaging system, with its extensive application of Action Words, helps utilities provide an excellent service while reducing their costs.
- No matching words - If a message arrives from a mobile device that does not match a keyword, Command Word or Action Word it is still available for reading by TextPower customers. You can have all MOs forwarded to any email address or have them sent via POST to any computer/server. You can also view these "unstructured" MOs on the TextPower portal by logging in and selecting the menu item Message Data>See Rec'd Msgs. For more detail about this function see our FAQ "Can I forward inbound (MO) text messages to an email address?"
For more information about how these various words and commands are set up on your system email Support@TextPower.com. We look forward to helping you provide excellent service to your customers and members.