OneReach Delivers Automated Communications for SMBs

By Thor Olavsrud | Posted December 20, 2011

Sophisticated automated multichannel communications is typically considered the purview of large enterprises, but Denver, Colo.-based OneReach plans to change all that with a unified communications platform that lets non-technical users reach customers via voice, email and text messaging.

OneReach today launched its new automated communications platform, built with the help of user-experience agency EffectiveUI. The platform is intended to give non-technical teams the capability to build, measure and refine inbound and outbound small business communication campaigns across multiple channels.

"A few years ago, we were working with a small business to set up a phone system," explained Rich Weborg, chief executive officer of OneReach. "They were losing a lot of sales because people would call and hang up or weren't routed to the right people. And we thought: this seems a lot more complex for a small business than it should be."

OneReach uses a Web-based dashboard through which users can create and send notifications such as payment due dates, event updates or upcoming appointment reminders -- along with marketing campaign outreach through text, voice and email. The platform also gathers analytics that users can leverage to adjust their campaigns to increase user engagement.

Before building the platform, OneReach turned to EffectiveUI to determine the features and functionality required by non-technical users and resource-constrained teams. EffectiveUI gathered the information through interviews and contextual research, and it used the information to design a visual workflow that allows people to drag-and-drop icons representing message components, thus giving them the capability to build multifaceted communications in minutes.

"Our goal is to allow organizations to do as much as they can without engaging the development team," Weborg explained.

"Based on what we learned through our customer insight work, we found that the people managing customer communications wanted a simple way to manage the process of creating an automated campaign without having to invest in technological expertise," said Rebecca Flavin, chief executive officer of EffectiveUI.

"Using this data, we created a visual flow that shows exactly how the notifications would work, and we developed features that added to the simplicity and intuitiveness of the application," she said.

OneReach was built on top of the Tropo platform, a cloud application programming interface (API) for building phone, SMS and instant messaging applications. Weborg said it can seamlessly integrate with back-end systems using the platform's data integration service, and it can also pull data from external APIs, databases and websites to provide rich message content.

OneReach also includes these additional features:

  •  Flow Builder; the drag-and-drop feature that lets users create automated message rules using visual steps to represent the "flow" of an application.
  • Campaign Manager; a feature that governs outbound communications. With it, messages can be sent immediately or as part of a campaign, with messages triggered at specified times or based on a change in a customer record. For instance, a dentist could use Campaign Manager to automatically call, email or text a patient an appointment reminder one week before a scheduled appointment.
  • Customization; OneReach customers can leverage email templates and contact data to create a custom email experience, or use custom audio files and voice recordings to deliver a consistent brand experience.
  • Real-time Analytics and Reports; OneReach gathers data and provides performance reports on communications and engagement reports on how users interact with messages they receive. Activity reports show how users interact with the flows built in Flow Builder, and response reports can be used to gather user input for future use.

OneReach can also be used by small businesses to accept inbound calls with auto-attendant capabilities, interactive voice response menus and routing.

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals.

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