Integrating with Twilio (SMS)

Thinking of using Twilio?

Depending on your account's country, the Twilio integration may not be visible when you go to Administrator > Integrations. If that's the case, simply drop us a line at  support@churchsuite.com and we can easily add the Twilio integration to your church's account.

Linking your Twilio account to ChurchSuite is easy and enables churches to send out and receive SMS messages from church members. Unlike TextLocal (which is only available to UK customers), Twilio routes SMS replies sent to your Twilio number to an email address. In order to configure your 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 "purchase" a number. Unwanted numbers can be 'released' without charge in trial mode.

Begin by clicking the "Get your Twilio number" button. From the dashboard, scroll down to the "Numbers' section and select Phone Numbers.

On the next page. the Phone Numbers Dashboard, click the red "Get Started"

Click the red "Get your first Twilio phone number" button.

A suggested number is displayed based on your region. You can either "Choose this Number", or select "Search for a different number", which allows you to custom-select a number appropriate to your country and region. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete this. Click "Choose this Number" when you are happy with the suggest phone number. Make sure you choose a number that can send and receive text messages to and from mobile numbers.

Once you've chosen your number, you'll need to copy and paste the API Credentials from your Twilio account into ChurchSuite so that we're able to send out SMS messages on your behalf. Back on the Console Dashboard, note the section with your API credentials (the SID and Token).

Simply copy and paste the Account SID and Auth Token details from the Console Dashboard into the provided fields in ChurchSuite's Twilio Integration ("Administrator" > "Integrations" > "Twilio") and then click the "Save and Proceed" button.

In the next stage (Stage 2), note the "Integration with Twilio..." instructions in the grey shaded box on the left hand side of the screen. 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.

Follow the 7 steps carefully and precisely. When you are done, tick the "I have completed Twilio integration" button. Instructions will then be provided to allow your settings to be tested.

Follow the testing instructions and click the "Check for message" button. A success message will confirm your settings are entered correctly.

Click "Save and Proceed".

If you have integrated multiple numbers, these will be shown in the drop-down "Default Number" box (see below). Choose which number is to be the default number. The default number can of course 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 you Twilio number(s), these will be displayed in the above drop-down 'default number' box, and also on the SMS Compose window when sending an SMS. While it is not possible to assign a User to a Twilio number within ChurchSuite, by using friendly names, Users will be more easily able to identify which Twilio number they should be using.

As shown in the image above, specify one or more authorised users. Authorised users will be able to send SMS text messages within ChurchSuite without the need to enter a Twilio password each time. You can also set up a Twilio 'ChurchSuite' password that you can provide certain users in order 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 when you have completed Stage 3 of the Integration. You can return to the above screen at any time in the future if you need to change the authorised users or password.

Important

When adding Friendly Names to your Twilio numbers, or buying a new number from within your Twilio control panel, you must open the above Twilio integration page (click 'Edit integration"). Opening the page will force ChurchSuite to re-sync any changes you may have made in your Twilio control panel.

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 'compose' window is shown below.

Changing the Sender ID when sending SMS messages

Please note, not all countries support "Change Sender ID" functionality e.g. North America. In this case, the 'Change' button will not be visible. Further information and a full list of supported countries can be found on the Twilio support website.

Why? Many cell operators simply 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, and is not a ChurchSuite/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 form 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/ChurchSuite and is recorded in the Communication log against Brad's profile in the Address Book (by matching on Brad's mobile/cell number in his profile). Additionally, ChurchSuite is able to 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 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 on the responses to all recent senders (Users) on that number in order 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 through an SMS response via email, if you wish to continue the exchange from your personal 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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