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Our client wanted to build a product that would relieve customers of long hold times on the phone by replacing these calls with easy communication between brands and consumers via SMS. As a new entrepreneur, he had a great idea, but a major challenge was finding the right technical cofounder.
Our prototype for Teckst actually was similar to an SMS version of Twitter. Users sent an SMS that contained @companyname to a universal short code and the message was routed to the phone number associated with that company. This was very helpful for small businesses that wanted to give personalized customer service, but weren’t ready to give out their phone number.
The next generation of the tool was built to incorporate phone numbers and take the conversation into three of the most popular Customer Relationship Management platforms (CRMs): Desk, Zendesk, and Helpscout. We added many improvements to the platform including MMS support, a secure API, and an SMS widget for companies to embed on their websites.
In addition to the CRM integration, we also built an admin area for Teckst and their clients to monitor usage and trends. The dynamic dashboard allows Teckst to monitor the number of messages each client sends and receives on the platform, in turn allowing them to charge according to volume.
Teckst experienced tremendous growth in its first year, signing on some of the country’s most exciting startups and leading us to some awesome scalability solutions.
Since this project encompassed six versions, there were many iterations of our typical process (Discovery, Definition, Development, Deployment). The following is a high-level overview of some of the challenges and solutions we faced through approximately nine months of design and development.
Discovery – There was a lot of discovery early on. We quickly found that Twilio was going to become our best friend. We also learned (the hard way) just how difficult and expensive registering a short code can be.
Definition – As the project matured over time, many features were added and removed. On several occasions throughout the project’s lifecycle, we returned to the whiteboard to reevaluate the logic, design, and technologies being used to ensure the best user experience possible for brands and their customers.
Development – Teckst is built with Ruby on Rails, AngularJS, PostgreSQL, Redis, MailChimp, and the Twilio API. We created back-end workers to handle processes and help reduce the load on the app. We turned to Angular to speed up the response time on the admin dashboard, which is full of stats and data that slowed things down. We also used RSpec framework to help us test throughout the development process.
Deployment – Due to our client’s rapid growth, our deployment was largely an ongoing, organic process. The app’s backend is hosted on Heroku and since scalability was a big priority, we made sure to fine-tune the Heroku environment with each iteration to find the perfect combination of dynos to handle the increasing user-base.