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.
“Where are my Analytics?” and “Where did these work orders come from?”
We’ve been hearing these questions often. Here are the answers.
Waiting for Ascend Analytics:
Over the last several weeks it’s been taking longer and longer for the previous day’s numbers to appear on Analytics. Most recently it was taking until well into the afternoon. The short explanation is our systems were overwhelmed with the amount of data to process every night. Not only do we have the Analtyics numbers to process, but we’re also handling the growing volume of eCommerce exports to SmartEtailing websites and Trek product registrations.
We apologize for this situation. We know that many of you look at Analytics the first thing every morning to see how your business is performing. Our standard is to have Ascend Analytics updated every day by 7:00am Central Time, 8:00am Eastern Time. We have taken immediate steps to return to this standard. This morning, the update was complete by 6:40am Eastern Time. We will continue to streamline our overnight processing to make sure this continues for now and in the future.
Reappearing Work Orders:
Since upgrading to Ascend Version 2.3, many of you have called to tell us that finished work orders reappeared. Here’s what happened. With Version 2.2 a bug was introduced. Work orders that were paid in full but not marked complete stopped showing up on the Work Orders Due screen. We fixed the bug in Version 2.3. So when you upgrade, any work orders that you didn’t mark as complete while running Version 2.2 will reappear. To get rid of them, all you need to do is to open them and mark them as complete. If you need assistance with this, contact the Ascend Support Team.
Credit Card Processing Outage:
One final note: Our support line was flooded Sunday afternoon when many of you couldn’t process credit card charges. A technical problem affecting the entire Visa network stopped many people around the United States from using their credit and debit cards for about 45 minutes on Sunday from 2:40 p.m. to 3:20 p.m Eastern Time.
This is the fourth and final part of our Ascend Version 2.3 preview. If you missed any previous parts, click these links to view Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3.
Version 2.3 will be available for our early release group next week on Monday night, February 20th. Contact us if you’d like to be a part of this group. It will be available to everyone else on March 19th.
With every update we like to include small changes with a big impact. Here are some that you can look forward to.
Cashier Mode / Service Mode
With a busy spring just around the corner it would be nice if, at your busiest workstations, you didn’t always have to exit to the desktop after completing a sale or work order. With our new Cashier and Service modes you won’t have to. When you enable either, you’ll automatically return to the Sales or Work Order Screen when you complete a transaction. To enable it, go to Options > General and select the desired option from the Workstation Mode list.
More product details
We added more information to the details section when looking at a specific product. You can now see last Last Received Date, Last Sold Date and Last Vendor Purchased From.
Change sale or work order item quantity
Now, when needed, you can change the quantity on a previously added sale or work order item. The many mechanics I’ve talked to that have had to add or remove work order items to get to a new quantity will be very happy to hear about this one.
Make sure to join us for our new release webinars. Watch your e-mail and Dexter for more details in the next several weeks.
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.