SMS Consent and Compliance Guidelines
  • 18 Jan 2023
  • 8 Minutes To Read
  • PDF

SMS Consent and Compliance Guidelines

  • PDF

Errors like "We detected the contents of this message may violate carrier acceptable use policies," "Delivery Failed," and "An unknown error occurred" could be caused by not meeting messaging policy requirements related to SMS compliance.

It's important to comply with and follow SMS rules and regulations if using SMS to communicate with your Customers in Gladly. There are a number of regulations that directly affect SMS communications that you must comply with to avoid penalties or avoid SMS deliverability issues. These regulations include, but are not limited to:

We highly recommend having your legal team or a legal firm review your SMS programs and policies to ensure you comply with SMS laws, regulations, and guidelines. To assist with your compliance efforts, we created the general guidelines and best practices we recommend you follow when using SMS to communicate with Customers in Gladly.

Include opt-in language in your ‘Contact Us’ web page.

Receive express consent by including opt-in language in places where you advertise the phone number that Customers can text to contact you. For example, you could add the following language to your "Contact Us" page on your website or mobile application:

"Prefer to message us instead? Text us at 555-555-5555 if you need help. Message & Data rates may apply.”

They are giving consent to receive a response by SMS by proactively reaching out first, but the consent they're providing is for that exchange only and not for future communications.

If you plan on using their number to proactively reach out through SMS, you must include information on your contact us page on how you may use their information in future SMS communications. For example:

"Prefer to message us instead? Text us at 555-555-5555 if you need help. By texting us, you consent to receive text messages from <company name> at the mobile number you use to text and you are opting-in to receive future messages or a phone call in the number you provided. Message & Data rates may apply. View our Terms and Privacy Policy for more information"

SMS

Communicate with Customers using SMS/text messages via their Customer Profiles. For example:

  1. Customers can send an SMS by texting an SMS-capable number set up in Gladly. An Agent can then respond to that SMS.
  2. An Agent can start a new Conversation or Contact via SMS.
  3. An Agent can transition an email/chat/voice to SMS or use SMS as another Channel to communicate (e.g., send a confirmation number) while using another Channel like voice.
  4. SMS API initiated message sent to Customers.

Inbound SMS opt-in and initial reply

When Customers send an SMS to your company to ask a question or look for help, that's considered an opt-in. They are giving consent to receive a response by SMS by proactively reaching out first; however, the consent is for that exchange only.

Your initial reply to their SMS — whether through the auto-reply Rule or a manual Agent response — must contain the name of your company and opt-out language. For example:

Hello! Thanks for contacting Retale. We'll get back to you as soon as we can. Message & Data rates may apply. Reply STOP to opt-out.

In Gladly, a Customer contacting in via SMS for the first time automatically makes their phone number SMSable by adding the SMS tag on their phone number. Still, you should not initiate contact with the Customer via SMS unless you have explicitly provided information about opting in to receive support via SMS may mean receiving other kinds of communications in the future. In this case, your SMS initial reply via a Rule using a Messaging Answer should include a link to your Privacy Policy that contains information on how their phone number may be used for future communications. For example:

Hello! Thanks for contacting Retale. We'll get back to you as soon as we can. Message & Data rates may apply. By texting us, you consent to receive text messages from <company name> at the mobile number you used to text and you are opting-in to receive future messages or a phone call in the number you provided. Message & Data rates may apply. Reply STOP anytime to opt-out.

Be sure to always include your company name on the initial SMS reply to ensure your Customer understands that they have contacted and given consent to the right company. Also, notice there is an opt-out keyword (STOP). You must always include an opt-out language in the initial reply. It’s easy for regulators to see, filter, and flag messages that do not have this type of language.

Subsequent replies

You don't necessarily need to keep your opt-out language in subsequent SMSes. For example, after receiving the initial response, “Hello! Thanks for contacting Retale. We'll get back to you as soon as we can. Message & Data rates may apply. Reply STOP to opt-out,” an Agent may then reply and say:

Agent: Hello Chip! Thanks for contacting Retale. My name is Gerard, and I’m happy to confirm that your order is ready for pickup.

Customer: Thank you!

Agent: Chip, I can confirm that your order is ready for pick up at the Union Square location.

In the example above, the subsequent replies did not need to include the opt-out language.

Outbound SMS

Just because Customers have texted you in the past does not necessarily mean they give you permission to message them later for other reasons. If you do, make sure your Customers are aware of your Privacy Policy which should contain information that you may use their information for future communications until they opt-out. Consult your legal team or a legal firm for assistance in defining your policy.

Opt-out of receiving SMS

Customers can opt-out of future messages anytime by replying with an opt-out keyword like “STOP.” This opts them out of receiving messages from the phone number they opted out of. Customers must resubscribe to receive any SMS messages from the same phone number. Keep in mind that you should always have an opt-out language in your initial text message.

SMS automation

These are SMSes triggered via automation partners like Thankful.ai or using the Gladly SMS API.

Automation partners

Automation partners like Thankful.ai only respond to inbound messages in which a Customer sending an SMS provides consent to receive support by SMS. But, the initial response to the SMS must contain the name of your company and opt-out language. For example:

Hello! Thanks for contacting Retale. How can we help you? Message & Data rates may apply. Reply STOP to opt-out.

SMS API

Only proactively sends SMS to Customers who have previously provided consent to receive texts from your company. Consent is typically given by Customers if they have texted you in the past and have not opted out.

Outbound SMS opt-out

The initial message Customers receive from either automation partners or SMS API should contain your company name and an opt-out language. For example:

Thanks for joining Retale messaging for Platinum Members! Get ready to shop till you drop with amazing deals for our Platinum Members. Message & Data rates may apply Reply STOP to opt-out.

Having your company name on the initial SMS response ensures your Customer understands that they have contacted and given consent to the right company. Also, notice there is an opt-out keyword (STOP). You must always include an opt-out language in the initial reply.

IVR to SMS

The IVR to SMS option allows Customers to transition from phone support to SMS. This option is typically presented to Customers in the IVR hoping to reach an Agent.

Customers given the option to receive support by SMS through the IVR must explicitly be given the opt-out language, which in this case would be through a recorded message or text-to-speech in a node. For example, your IVR menu recording may say:

To receive support through SMS instead, press one. Note that message and data rates may apply, and you may Reply with the word STOP to opt-out of SMS communications at any time.

Upon opting in to receive support via SMS, include an opt-out language in the initial SMS sent to callers confirming their request to receive support via SMS. For example, the SMS auto-reply may say:

Thank you for contacting Retale! What can we do for you? Note that message and data rates may apply, and you may Reply STOP to opt-out of SMS communications at any time.

Having your company name on the initial SMS response ensures your Customer understands that they have contacted and given consent to the right company. Also, notice there is an opt-out keyword (STOP). You must always include an opt-out language in the initial reply.

Proactive SMS 

Proactive SMS is a tool used to communicate with Customers via SMS in bulk, allowing you to send the same message to multiple Customers at once. Because it uses SMS, it's bound by the same rules and regulations as other SMS Channels. 

Watch Out - Proactive Conversation features do not replace marketing tools
Proactive Conversation tools like Proactive Email and Proactive SMS allow you to quickly communicate pertinent information to Customers. Still, it’s not meant to replace mass, marketing-type outbound communication to Customers which is a more appropriate use case for tools like MailChimp (email) and Attentive (SMS).

You should only use Proactive SMS to communicate with Customers who have previously provided consent to receive other communications from you. Typically, consent is given if the Customer has previously reached out via SMS and has received your initial SMS response with the opt-out language and link to your Privacy Policy on how you may contact them for future communications.

Refrain from including recipients that don't have a relationship with your company or have not provided consent.

The Messaging Answer used in each Proactive Campaign should contain an opt-out language. For example:

The Retalé members-only session begins Monday for Platinum card members. Reply "Stop" to unsubscribe.

Having your company name on the message ensures your Customer understands who's contacting them. Also, notice there is an opt-out keyword (STOP). You must always include an opt-out language in a Proactive SMS Messaging Answer. If they do opt-out, you will no longer be able to communicate through SMS until they opt-in again.


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