SMS Messaging

Text and chat with clients directly in Shepherd.

Updated over a week ago

Note: Current functionality only supports text. Sending/receiving images is not currently supported, but adding that functionality is in the works.

Two- way communication with your clients requires your SMS number to be registered under A2P 10DLC. A2P (Application to Person) 10DLC (10 digit long code) is the standard that United States telecom carriers have put in place to ensure that SMS traffic to US end-users through long code phone numbers is verified and consensual. Your Account Manager will register your SMS number and verify it has been activated; this process takes approximately 2-3 weeks.


Before we dive into the wonders of two-way client communication, we'll need to get a pinch of housekeeping out of the way.

In order to get 2-way SMS messaging set up, you'll need to make sure you have:

  • A registered SMS number for your clinic

  • The Messaging permission enabled

If you've already done those things, click the corresponding title to learn more about the individual features:

Activating SMS

Your Account Manager will register your SMS number using the information filled out on your Kick Off Form, as well as information gathered from the Welcome Call. They will notify you when your SMS number is active!

We try to choose SMS numbers with the same area code as your clinic phone number; however, that may not be possible in every scenario.

Enabling the Messaging Permission per User

If you want a user to have access to the two-way SMS so they can communicate with clients, they'll need to have the messaging permission attached to their user role(s).

  1. Select Users from your Shepherd Admin menu and then select Roles

  2. Select a role to edit or click the Add New button

  3. To add messaging permissions, select the checkbox under Admin called "Messaging (Access)"

Tip: you can also make a messaging role by clicking the 'Add New' button in Admin > Users > Roles. Then only select 'Messaging' when you pick the role's permissions, save it, and add the messaging-specific role to individual users.

Messaging Section Overview

Starting a New Conversation

  1. In your Shepherd menu, click Message Center and then select Text Messaging

  2. In the upper right corner, select the New Message button

  3. In the Client or co-owner prompt, start typing the name of the client or co-owner you wish to contact via SMS and select their name from the dropdown when it appears

  4. Select their listed primary contact number or enter a custom number

  5. Click Create Chat

  • All open chats are visible in the lefthand section of the messaging page. You can click on a chat to open it.

  • Once you've started a new chat (or opened an existing one), you can begin communicating with the client using the open text field at the bottom of the middle of your messaging page.

Note: Within each text conversation, you can see which user sent the message to the client.

Closing a Conversation

Closing a conversation allows you to archive it. It won't be deleted, and you can always go back and access it if you need to.

To close a conversation:

  1. Select the conversation to view it

  2. Click the 'Close' button on the right side of the page

  3. You'll be presented with a confirmation popup. Conversations that have an assigned patient can be automatically uploaded to the patient's medical record

Note: you can view closed conversations by clicking the 'Closed' tab on the left side of the messaging section (above your open conversations).

Make an Appointment From a Conversation

If you're getting in touch with a client (say a vaccination reminder) and they want to make an appointment, click the Make Appt icon.

You'll be navigated to the Appointment Schedule; the client's signalment will be visible at the top of the schedule and once you've created the appointment, you can navigate back to the text conversation using the <-- Go Back button

Once scheduled, the appointment will be visible from the information bar on the right side of the client SMS conversation.

Edit Appointment Status From a Conversation

Instead of navigating out of the messaging center to edit the status of an appointment, you can do this by clicking the current status. If you want to view/edit the appointment, click the square action button.

Assign SMS Message to Users

Assign one or more users to a conversation for direct notifications! After a user is assigned and a client replies, that user will see a notification dot in the main menu. You can assign multiple users to a message, but once one of the users has read the new message, the notification dot will be removed for all.

Note: If you do not want to send any two-way text messages, you can now disable the message center in the Clinic Settings. This will not turn off the automatic text message appointment reminders!

Assign Patient(s) to SMS Message

Assigning one or more patients to a conversation allows you to opt to automatically upload the conversation to the patient's medical record upon closing it.

SMS Templates

Clicking the SMS Templates button within the message center will allow you to create your own templates that can be easily sent with just a few clicks! Once the template is selected, the text will automatically populate within the conversation, ready to send when you are!

Scheduling SMS Messages

By clicking the clock symbol, you are now able to schedule a text to be sent at a later date/time! Once scheduled, it will appear in yellow, along with "Scheduled for: (date) (time)". If any adjustments need to be made, or if this needs to be canceled, clicking directly on the yellow message will allow you to make the necessary changes!

Custom Automatic SMS Templates

You can now create custom text message notifications. These settings are found under Admin > Scheduling > Edit SMS Settings.

After Hours Auto Response

You can create a default text message that will be sent as an automatic reply if a client sends a text message outside of your scheduled office hours. To create this auto response message go into your Clinic Settings and click the Office Hours & Closures tab.

Note: You can now toggle off the auto response if needed.

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