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External Communications
Getting Started with External Communications
Getting Started with External Communications
Updated over a week ago

Using the External Communications feature, you can enable the delivery of email or text (SMS) messages from Penelope to both Workers and Clients. You can optionally configure both manual and automatic message delivery. For information about the specific types of messages that you can send, review the Worker and Client messages topic.

About Configuring Email or SMS

To enable External Communications, you’ll complete general setup steps through your System Administrator account. These steps include configuring and enabling email and/or SMS and configuring recipient delivery options. These settings are global and set the general rules for the type of messaging that can occur at a Worker or Client level in Penelope.

Once you’ve enabled Worker and/or Client delivery, you or your staff can configure their own Message Settings as well as Message Settings for individual clients (depending on the Security Settings in your database). Message Settings indicate what types of messages they want to receive and how.

Configuration Steps

Step 1: Determine what type of External Communications you want to enable

To begin, you’ll need to determine whether you want to send email, text messages, or both to Workers and/or Clients.

Email is typically the quickest option to enable as most if not all agencies already have an email system in place. Enabling SMS requires that you have an active account with a compatible Bulk SMS provider which carries additional costs through the host.

If you determine that your agency wants or needs to send SMS messages to Workers or Clients, create an account with one of the compatible Bulk SMS providers (if you don’t already have one at your agency).

Step 2: Configure general External Communication settings

General settings include:

  • An option to specify which User Category general email-based error messages should be sent to. For example, sending a message to an invalid mobile phone number or email address.

  • An option to include a prefix of up to 20 characters that can be prepended on automated Event messages sent via SMS

Step 3: Configure and enable Email

The settings you configure in the Email section of the External Communications page allow for email to be sent from Penelope externally to Workers and Clients. Further, the Authentication Email settings make it possible to use the 2-step login feature for enhanced security at the authentication (log in) level.

Step 4: Configure and enable SMS

The settings you configure in the SMS section of the External Communications page allow for text messages to be sent from Penelope externally to Workers and Clients.

Step 5: Configure individual Worker Delivery

Worker Delivery settings indicate which type of messages are allowed at your agency. For example, you can indicate whether Event-based notifications or other Collaboration Suite-type messages can be sent.

Step 6: Configure Client Delivery

Client Delivery settings indicate which type of messages can be sent to clients at your agency. For example, you can enable Event Confirmations or specify where staff can initiate Client Communications.

Step 7: Configure Worker and Client Message Settings (ongoing)

For each Worker and Client who wish to receive email or text messages from Penelope, you’ll need to configure their unique Message Settings. These settings indicate what email address and/or phone number they want to receive messages at as well as their individual preferences.

Compatible Email and SMS Providers

Email

You can configure External Communications for use with most email providers with the exception of an account using SMTP relay. For steps on enabling Centralized Email Sending hosted by Bonterra, click Here!

SMS Providers

Penelope is compatible with these SMS gateway providers:

  • Bulk SMS

  • Clickatell

  • Clickatell-Platform

  • MessageMedia

Each provider has its own coverage areas, pricing, services, and mobile companies that they work with. To help you evaluate which option is most suitable for your agency, please review the information below and contact the desired provider to create an account.

Bulk SMS Information

  • Coverage is available in most countries

  • Visit bulksms.vsms.net for more information

Clickatell and Clickatell-Platform Information

  • Coverage is available in most countries (not available in the United States)

  • Clickatell configuration in Penelope is compatible with Clickatell accounts created prior to November 2016 while Clickatell-Platform configuration is compatible with Clickatell accounts created after November 2016

  • Clickatell-Platform configuration is available in Penelope v4.7.7.10 and higher

  • Visit clickatell.com for more information

MessageMedia Information

  • Accounts on MessageMedia’s old and new platforms are supported (version 4.16.1.0).

  • Coverage is available in most countries

  • MessageMedia configuration is available in Penelope v4.7.7.10 and higher

  • Visit www.messagemedia.com for more information

Worker and Client Messages

In general, External Communications allow for a one-way push of messages from Penelope to a Worker or Client. With Engage, you can enable two-way communication between Workers and Clients whereby staff can initiate email-based communication (either a Workflow or Discussion) from Penelope to the client. Clients are emailed a link to a webpage where they can either complete Document(s) or reply to a Discussion (message).

Worker Messages

When you enable Worker Delivery, you can optionally allow the following types of messages be delivered to Workers by email or text message:

  • A notification when an Event is booked within a specified timeframe before the Event start time (for example, a notification for last minute bookings)

  • A notification when a client is a No Show for an appointment

  • Collaboration Suite-type messages (Conversation, Alert, Notification, Discussion, Event Notification, Workflow, Reminder) generated manually or automatically through Action Triggers

  • Automatic reminders a specified number of minutes before an Event starts including the ability to set a unique reminder time for first Events in a Service File (note that this setting is configured by each worker through their Message Settings).

Each Worker can individually specify if and how they want to receive these messages. For example, they can indicate through their Message Settings if they want to receive an email, a text message, or a combination of the two. Further, Workers can indicate whether they want to receive an email/text each time a message is sent or only when they’re not logged into Penelope.

Client Messages

When you enable Client Delivery, you can optionally allow the following types of messages be delivered to Clients by email or text message:

  • Automatically-generated Event Confirmations with the option to allow the Client to send a return of confirmation message

  • Automatically-generated Event Update notifications when an Event is booked and/or rescheduled

  • Manually-generated communication including:

  • - Billing-related messages (from the Individual Account Summary and/or Individual Policy pages)

  • - General messages from the Individual Profile page

  • - Service-related messages from the Case, Service File, Service Event, Group, and/or Group Event pages.

  • Automatically-generated New Document Workflow Action Trigger types where Assigned to Client is enabled (requires Engage)

Automatic Client Confirmation and Event Update Messages

Scenario

Message text

Setting

When an event is booked

Appointment reminder: Date at Time with Worker at Site. Call Site Phone Number to reschedule.

Event Updates > Send Event booking notification

When an event is rescheduled

Appointment rescheduled: Your Original Date appt. has been rescheduled to New Date at Time. Call Site Phone Number to reschedule.

Event Updates > Send Event reschedule notification

X hours before an event, a appointment confirmation is sent to the client

Appointment confirmation: Click Link to confirm your appt. on Date at Time with Worker at Site.

As of Penelope version 4.14.1.0 (mid 2019) the Appointment confirmation has been changed to: Confirm Appt: Click link on time / date / event details inserts.

Send event confirmation > Send confirmation before X hours

Note

For compatibility with various cellular network providers and devices, automated event SMS messages in Penelope are limited to 140 characters (160 characters as of version 4.14.1.0+). The Worker name and/or Site may not appear with the Event Update messages when sent to a client via SMS message. When the Event Confirmation link is included, Event Confirmation messages will not contain the Worker name or Site for the Event.

Please note, if you would like to include the location in event reminders for clients, please ensure that the option "Hide Event Location on Ext Comm" is enabled under the security setup page (located on the system administrator home-page).

When Event Update Messages are Sent

The follow table can be used to provide context for when Event Update messages are sent to a client.

Action

The Event occurs...

Notification sent?

Booking an Event

In the future

Yes

In the past (same day)

No

In the past

No

Reverting an Event to Booked state

In the future

No

In the past (same day)

No

In the past

No

Rescheduling an Event

In the future

Yes

In the past (same day)

Yes

In the past

Yes

Additional Features that Require External Communications

Additional features in Penelope rely on or can be used in combination with External Communications. These features include:

Action Triggers

Alert, Notification, and Workflow messages generated through Action Triggers can be delivered to a Worker via email or SMS if External Communications are enabled. If you also have Engage enabled, Checklist and New Document Workflows can be delivered to a client via email.

Authentication

You must configure and enable External Communications (email and/or SMS) to use 2-step logins, trusted devices, security questions, and/or user managed reset Penelope Authentication options.

ClientConnect and Engage

You must configure and enable External Communications (email) as email is a mandatory component of ClientConnect and Engage. ClientConnect and Engage relies on the email setup to send communications to clients.

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