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So we still don’t have 2-way SMS working yet? Geez!

I’ve just hopped into a Parisien taxi to take me to the Gare du Nord for my journey back to London. As I did, I got two text messages as per the screenshot. Turns out I’m due for a check-up at the dentist. Only, this dentist is — if its the one I’m thinking of — about 100 miles away from where I now live.

So actually, I don’t think I will be going back. It’s near my parents’ place. I could, theoretically, go to the dentist and combine that with a visit to the parental units. The service at the dentist was excellent. Knowledgeable, professional, pain-free. I liked the fact they had a blog too! I spent a good few thousand pounds with them on account of an annoying infection a while ago. I’ve also got, I dunno, about £3-5k’s work outstanding. To fix the temporary tooth etc etc etc. I won’t bore you with the intimate details.

My point: I’m worth a lot of cash to that dentist. A heck of a lot more than the average £100 a month. Switching costs are high. Even though I’ve moved I’d still do the 100 mile round-trip for service. I like my expectations managed so I’d rather do this than find a new dentist.

But, we are out of touch. The last time I was there? Maybe 1.5 years ago?

I’m not bothering phoning them though. Why not? Simple. They’re probably closed. And frankly, I don’t want to have a conversation right now. An email, yes. A text message, yes. Not a phone conversation. It’s too much brain power for me.

And I’m right. I’m the customer. I’m the one holding the 5k looking, at some point, to get the temporary tooth sorted out.

I’m worth about 166 times more than a standard 30 quid check-up patient. So how has this surgery reached out to me? With a one-way SMS system. Sent from a ‘means nothing’ “SOE” identifer.

What does “SOE” mean?

Why can’t I reply back and engage with them? Its one of those things I need to get done. But not enough to actually pick up the phone.

If I could reply, I’d have asked them about my tooth, asked them to talk to the dentist and probably arranged a time in the next few weeks to pop over. But they’ve given me no facility to do. Beyond phone.

Meanwhile I will probably just go to the place my wife checked out in Marlow at some point soon.

I really don’t understand why dentists (and other such places) haven’t yet caught on to the potential of two-way SMS. Any ideas?

Posted via email from MIR Live

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

7 replies on “So we still don’t have 2-way SMS working yet? Geez!”

Yup, totally agree. Two-way SMS is the logical next step. But dentists and other SMEs are typically reliant on a third-party to enable that for them. Just done a bit of a web search and in this case it looks like it is a company called Software of Excellence (SOE), which specializes in providing software platforms to dentists (for SMS appointment reminders it looks like it is the Exact platform). SOE is probably working with a messaging aggregator to send out these SMSs. That messaging aggregator may not have a two-way SMS capability, which will likely require setting up a dedicated SMS short code or long number. There are messaging aggregators in the UK that can provide this type of capability though.

Ewan, the problem is not the SMS system, but the rubbish medical / dental office systems in use today. We have a system that can direct individual messages that use a shared short code, but for most providers there is no way to move the data into their system.

SOE is Software of Excellence – I used it a few years back.

The funny thing is that SMS reminders are such an advance in technology for the average medical practitioner. You’re annoyed and frustrated while the dentists think SOE is cutting edge.

In reality it was pretty hopeless software when I used it, years behind where it should be. But this being the UK…

In my opinion there are 2 factors which make the 2-way messaging system a failure.

1 is the high cost of implementation via the shortcode/sms gateway company plus the fact that the telco’s in the country will be making a revenue share on smses sent back and forth.

2nd is the accessibility factor, basically who will be communicating to the customers on behalf of the brand/company or organization?

However my company in Malaysia which is still in beta is testing out a solution for the problems you’ve pointed out. We’re currently implementing our solution to operate a straightforward Questions and Answers service for Malaysians.

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