Integrating with Twilio (SMS)

Thinking of using Twilio?

Depending on your ChurchSuite account country, the Twilio integration may not be shown on the list of Integrations. If that's the case, drop us a line at support@churchsuite.com and we'll add it to your account.

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Linking a Twilio account to ChurchSuite is easy and enables churches to send out and receive SMS messages from church members through ChurchSuite. Unlike TextLocal - which is only available to UK customers - Twilio routes SMS replies sent to your Twilio number to an email address. To configure the Twilio integration, you'll first need to create an account with Twilio, by signing up through Twilio.com. It's free to sign up and try out.

Once you've created your account, you'll need to buy a Twilio number so that you can send out and receive SMS messages. While your account is in trial mode, it's free to buy a phone number - unwanted numbers can be 'released' without charge in trial mode.

Navigate to the Phone Numbers section and select Buy a number from the menu options. Use the search option to find a preferred number for your Country. Make sure you choose a number that can send and receive SMS messages.

Once you've chosen your number, you'll need to copy and paste the Auth Token into the Twilio integration so that ChurchSuite can send out SMS messages on your behalf. Navigate to the Keys & Credentials section, and note the Live credentials section with your Account SID and Auth token.

In ChurchSuite - perhaps working in another browser tab - navigate to the Integrations section of the Administrator area and click on the Twilio integration in the list.

Copy and paste the Account SID and Auth Token details from Twilio into the Integration fields and then click Save.

Next, follow the Integration with Twilio instructions. Steps 4 to 6 must be repeated for each Twilio number you wish to integrate with - it may therefore be helpful to make a note of the URL in step 5 so that you can easily copy and paste it multiple times if needed. When you are done, tick the I have completed Twilio integration checkbox and Save.

Follow the testing instructions and click the Check for message button. A failure message is displayed indicating that one or more of your Twilio account settings is not correct.

A green success message will confirm your settings are entered correctly. Click Save.

If you have integrated multiple numbers, these will be shown in the drop-down Default Number list (see below). Choose which of your numbers is to be the default number. The default number can be overridden at the point a User is composing an SMS message. Twilio also support "Friendly Names" (see below). If you have configured 'friendly names' for your Twilio number(s), these will be displayed in the drop-down Default Number, and also on the SMS Compose pop-up when sending an SMS. While it is not possible to assign a User to a Twilio number within ChurchSuite, by using friendly names, your Users will be able to more easily identify which Twilio number they should be using.

Choose one or more Authorised Users. Authorised users can send SMS text messages within ChurchSuite without the need to enter a password each time. You can optionally set a Twilio 'ChurchSuite' Password that you can make available to certain users for them to be able to send out SMS messages. Non-authorised users will need to enter this password each time they send an SMS.

Click Finish to complete and close the Integration. You can return to the integration page at any time in the future if you need to change the authorised users or password.

Top Tip - Friendly names

Note: When adding friendly names to Twilio numbers or purchasing a new Twilio number, you will need open the Twilio integration page to force ChurchSuite to sync the changes made in your Twilio account.

Having completed the Twilio integration successfully, you will now be able to send SMS text messages from within ChurchSuite. Replies will be routed to your designated email address(es). The SMS compose window is shown below. Note that Twilio doesn't support the sending of scheduled SMS messages.

Changing the Sender ID when sending SMS messages

Not all countries support "Change Sender ID" functionality e.g. North America. In this case, the Change button (seen above) will not be shown. Further information and a full list of supported countries can be found on the Twilio support website.

Why? Many cell operators don't allow you to send out an SMS message through a service such as Twilio other than from the telephone number(s) that you purchase through that service provider. This means that you can't send out an SMS through ChurchSuite and have replies come back to your phone - it's the cell operators who have blocked this - it's not a ChurchSuite or Twilio-specific limitation.

One number or multiple numbers?

In terms of making use of your Twilio account, you can either use just a single number and have all your authorised users send out messages from that number, or you could have several numbers registered and ask each of your team members (authorised users) to make use of different numbers, selecting their number from the drop-down list when composing a message.

If you do choose to use a single number, ChurchSuite has intelligence built in to try and determine who the intended recipient of an SMS reply is, here's how it works:

User "A" sends out an SMS through ChurchSuite to 'Joe', 'Brad' and 'Phil'. The sent SMS is logged against each contact in the Address Book. Brad replies to that SMS, so the reply goes back through Twilio to ChurchSuite and is recorded in the Communication log against Brad's profile in the Address Book (by matching Brad's mobile/cell number in his profile). Additionally, ChurchSuite can see that User "A" has sent out an SMS to Brad within the previous two weeks, so Brad's reply is emailed through User "A".

The next day, User "B" sends out an SMS to 'Brad', 'Jan' and 'Andrea'. Again, the sent SMS is logged against each contact in the Address Book. Brad replies to that SMS and as before, the SMS reply is recorded against Brad's Address Book profile in ChurchSuite (by matching Brad's mobile/cell number against his profile). Since at the time Brad replied to both User "A" and User "B" within the previous 2 weeks, both User "A" and User "B" will receive his SMS reply as an email. This is unavoidable since SMS messages don't include the details of the message they're a response to - ChurchSuite cannot determine between User "A" or "B", so it sends the responses to all recent senders (Users) on that number to be safe.

The above scenarios perhaps illustrate the advantages of buying multiple numbers from Twilio.

With the above scenario, had User "A" and User "B" sent out the SMS from separate Twilio numbers, ChurchSuite knows which number is being replied to, so would only email the correct User with Brad's response.

Continuing the conversation

When you receive an SMS response via email, if you wish to continue the exchange from your cell number, you could tap on the sender's cell number included in the email, which should auto-launch the telephone/messaging app on your mobile/cell phone; allowing you to send out an SMS from your own phone's call/SMS plan.

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