Expanding your app-titude

A monthly look at apps and websites that can make the CPA’s job and life better.
By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA

Over the years, I've come to depend on email. It's my "go-to" communication platform because it's quick, easy, and uniformly adopted across my circle of friends, associates, and clients. But some people prefer texts or phone calls. Those methods are great for one or even a few messages, but both stumble when asked to scale to dozens or even hundreds of communications.

I went looking for solutions—and discovered two tools that you may find useful. You'd be wise to tuck these away for when you can suggest an easy solution to a client problem involving how to communicate with many people simultaneously, economically, and effectively. Important note: Under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), you or your clients must obtain the express consent of any and all recipients before sending them texts or making automated calls as described below.

EZ TEXTING LIVES UP TO ITS NAME IN A BIG WAY

A few months ago, I managed an event for CEOs of technology companies serving the accounting profession. Trying out new technology in front of a room of more than 70 technology executives is daunting, but after some small-scale testing and guidance from a friendly help desk, I decided to give EZ Texting a whirl.

The service is designed to handle mass SMS messages, and it accomplishes that task very well. The platform lets you send messages, upload contacts, and segment them into various groups. I established an account, selected a "from" name, uploaded my attendees' names and cell numbers via a CSV file, and quickly assigned them to a few groups. I found it particularly handy to assign certain people to multiple groups. After that 15-minute exercise, I was ready to go. I quickly set up a "Welcome to New York City" message and scheduled it to arrive the evening of the opening reception. At 6 p.m., just as planned, the message went out, and a few minutes later, the app reported a chart detailing the results: 62 delivered, five not available, and one bounced (my fault—typo in the cellphone number). Several attendees answered the text, and several more mentioned it at the reception. Over the next few days of the conference, I launched other text blasts and all were successful.

I found the platform easy to set up, intuitive to use, and very effective for the situation I faced. Even better, it automatically handles stop and help requests from recipients, an important factor to stay in TCPA compliance. If you or your clients ever need to communicate quickly and effectively with many people, you now know of a solution.

  • Website: eztexting.com
  • Pricing: Free for limited use; 5 cents per message in Pay & Go plan; subscription models range from $49 per month for 1,000 messages to $2,000 per month for 50,000 messages.
  • Operating systems: Android, Web


DIALMYCALLS DOES THAT AND A WHOLE LOT MORE

DialMyCalls is to voice as EZ Texting is to SMS. Where EZ Texting excels at volume, DialMyCalls focuses on flexibility and seems designed for smaller audiences. Operationally, they are the same: Set up an account, select a "from" number, upload the numbers of those with whom you wish to communicate, get express permission from your contacts to call or text them, assign them to groups, and you're ready to go. Here's where the magic of DialMyCalls comes in. DialMyCalls provides email messaging and voice messaging. The voice messaging includes several enhancements, my favorite being the ability to deliver one recorded message to a live answerer and a different message when the call is routed to voicemail. The reporting function seems robust and provides solid data to help you understand which recipients received which message via which platform.

  • Website: DialMyCalls.com
  • Pricing: Pay-as-you-go; subscription models available with wide range of pricing plans.
  • Operating systems: iOS, Android, Web

Greg LaFollette (greg.lafollette@hq.cpa.com) is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.

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