SMS (a.k.a. Text) messaging is very popular. I know that’s not a big revelation for anyone. When my 75 year old mom started texting me this past year, I knew we were reaching technology saturation. Recent statistics bear this out as well:
- Some 83% of American adults own cell phones and three-quarters of them (73%) send and receive text messages.
- SMS messaging has become the most popular form of communication, surpassing email and voice as the most used contact method. It accounts for 64% of all mobile messaging traffic.
- 7.8 trillion SMS messages were sent in 2011. SMS traffic is expected to reach 9.6 trillion messages in 2012.
With all this in mind, we’re excited to be adding the ability to send SMS messages from Ascend. Starting with the release of Version 2.5 in September, you will be able to send messages to individual customers from three places in Ascend:
- From the Customers folder in Database Explorer
- After completing a work order
- When receiving special order items
Also, when receiving a special order item, you’ll be notified if the item is part of a work order. At that time you can decide if you want to notify the customer or to wait until their work order is completed.
There will be no additional cost for this service. It’s included with your annual support fee. After you upgrade to Version 2.5 in September, you will need to contact the Ascend Support Team to activate the service for you.
In order to message a customer, you’ll need to have a mobile number in their database record. You’ll also need to check the SMS box next to the number. If you’ve upgraded to version 2.4 you can start using that SMS check box now. If you haven’t upgraded yet, plan to do so at your earliest convenience.
Last week I had the privilege of visiting bike shops in Germany that are using Ascend. At one our stops I was sitting in the receiving area with their buyer/receiver and Urs Keller, our Ascend Manager in Germany. I was trying to follow their conversation in German as they were reviewing the order screen. Suddenly their buyer exclaimed “Das ist cool!!”. Urs had just shown her how to print receipts for special order items from the order screen.
This scene has been repeated on many visits in many countries. It is one of the favorite parts of my job. It’s fun to show someone a feature that will make their lives easier. But the more I thought about it, it’s also disappointing. It’s disappointing that they didn’t already know about it. The special order receipt printing feature has been available since the release of version 2.2 in December. They could have been using it already for 3 months. If we hadn’t stopped by, it may have been much longer before they discovered it.
As manager of a fast paced business, I know how difficult it is to stay up to date on everything and to keep your employees updated as well. I can’t possibly keep up with all of the information that comes my way. I have to pick and choose and focus on the most important information. Next week we’ll be releasing Version 2.3 of Ascend. It contains a whole new batch of cool stuff to help make your jobs easier. Make sure to review the resources we’ve prepared for you. I can assure you it will be worth your time.
Next Tuesday (3/20) at 9:00am Central Time and next Wednesday (3/21) at 11:00am Central Time we’ll be hosting webinars to show you what’s new in Version 2.3. To register for the Tuesday session, click here. To register for the Wednesday session, click here.
The next update to Ascend will be available this month. We’re very excited about the new features in Version 2.2:
- We’ve totally revamped the On Sale process in Ascend. We’ve created a new screen for adding items to an On Sale. Dealers with multiple locations will now have the ability to download On Sale records created at any of their other locations. We are also showing your On Sale prices all over the application (Products Folder, In-Store Product Window, Select Products Window, etc.)
- We’ve updated the Work Orders Due and Ready For Pick-Up screen. You can now easily switch between the two views from the same screen. We’ve added e-mail and phone number columns and each user has the ability to configure all the columns in the order they want them. New features have also been added to the grid to allow you to search within the work orders listed and to group them by any column you specify.
- We’ve added the ability to print Special Order receipts from the Vendor Order screen. Ascend will print out transaction receipts that you can attach the items to help identify them. When the customer comes in to pick up their special order, you can scan the receipt to open up their sale and finish it.
- We’ve completed our e-mail integration. Now, every place in Ascend where you can send e-mail messages uses our integrated service. In addition to that, we’ve added the ability to create a custom auto-signature that will appear at the bottom of any message you send out.
- We’ve updated our Chase Paymentech credit card integration. The VeriFone PIN pads will now work on Windows 7 – 64 bit PC’s.
- For our Trek Product Registration program we’ve added a confirmation message to appear at the bottom of your customers’ receipts. It’s the same message they’d see if they register their bikes on the Trekbikes.com website.
We will be hosting instructional webinars the week of December 12th. Watch for more details on registering to attend or view one of these sessions.