One Number to Rule Them All

One Number to Rule Them All: Using a single number for Voice and SMS applications

Years ago the singer Harry Nilsson told us that one was the loneliest number. Combine that idea with the ring of power—“one ring to rule them all”—from Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, and you might think it’s lonely at the top. When it comes to managing combined voice and SMS applications, however, having only one phone number is a good thing.

Not all phone numbers are created equal. Depending on the number’s intended use, the entity responsible for your phone numbers needs to configure the number to accomplish certain tasks. While voice communications are de facto, SMS is not. Certain steps need to be taken in order for you to be able to send and receive SMS messages on a given phone number.

Two Many Numbers?

Sometimes, depending on the telco carrier, it’s not possible to use one number for multiple purposes. So, if you have a voice application that triggers SMS messages for two-factor authentication, for example, you need two different phone numbers. One number to deploy the voice app; this is the phone number that an end-user calls to reach your automated program. To send an SMS message, you need a second number to handle that function.

Ultimately, this means that you have more phone numbers to juggle for your voice applications, and more numbers to manage on the back end. For companies that utilize hundreds or thousands of phone numbers already, having to double a portion of those numbers to add SMS functionality is a major headache.

Owning this many numbers generally necessitates some method for monitoring, tagging/tracking, and filtering numbers based on a range of criteria. Developing and maintaining mechanisms to accomplish this uses resources that could be deployed elsewhere, if fewer numbers were needed.

Furthermore, using multiple numbers potentially confuses customers. They may expect to receive SMS messages from the number they dialed or your company’s main number.

At its most basic, the need for two phone numbers in one application is an inelegant solution.

Streamlining for SMS

We’re acutely aware of these issues because they’re ones we deal with every day. So we feel your pain. For many years, our main focus was on voice calls. As we’ve expanded beyond voice, such as adding SMS, we’ve been working to streamline phone number usage.

We’re pleased to say that thanks to recent updates, we can now offer customers the ability to deploy voice and SMS applications to the same phone number.

What does this mean?

  1. Consolidate phone numbers – This change means that customers require fewer numbers to achieve the same results. Therefore, customers can reduce the total number of phone numbers tied to their account.
  2. Easier phone number management – Owning fewer numbers reduces the total amount of time and resources that go into managing those numbers.  
  3. Better customer experiences – Customers can associate a specific number with your company. For customers that call frequently this may be a big help. These customers may want to add your company’s phone number to their contacts so they can recognize communications more quickly and clearly. For example, with two-factor authentication becoming more commonplace, having a company name attached to a 2FA notification can be helpful.

In the very least, this new capability gives customers options. You may want to use two separate numbers for different channels. If that’s the case, you can still do so! If you want to use a single phone number for multi-channel communications within the same app, now you can do that, too.

Contact your account manager for more information on Plum’s communication options.