140 Years of The Phone System

By Thomas Howe

As we launched TEN DIGIT, we noticed two obvious facts seemed inconsistent

First, messaging was becoming preferred to voice, and failing to use it was quickly becoming impolite.  We called this phenomena the modern call model: people message each other before they call, in order to avoid unnecessary interruptions for the other party.  There’s no easier way to see if someone is available.

Second, you could walk into any business and ask to view the phone system. It was either in the closet or in the cloud, yet no business had a messaging system. The original infrastructure was built assuming that voice was how businesses should communicate. More recently, the evidence pointed at messaging as a more appropriate mode.  

In a way, it felt as if communications engineers had made 140 years of missteps. We asked ourselves: What did the engineers miss? What was it that we wished we had known back then?  If we had a blank slate, what would we take as our guidance?

TEN DIGIT was designed to be what should have been for business communications, based on our answers to what we wished we knew:



  • Today’s conversations begin with thumbs, and only sometimes precede a call.
  • People dislike all forms of waiting, such as being placed on hold.
  • People dislike repeating themselves, as it feels like you weren’t heard the first time.
  • Happy employees make happier customers , and angry customers make angry employees.
  • Your customers choose their own technology, they don’t care about your business’s technology.
  • The unification of communications might not be an important problem to solve, and it still does not actually solve any problem of your customer.
  • Your cell phone number is globally unique, even though your name is not.
  • All businesses lean towards software, and all that remains must be important enough to be expensive.
  • The common language of humans and computers is ASCII, and all other language options require translation.
  • Voice is rarely discreet, but messaging always is.


The Benefits Of SMS and Messaging For Customer Service and Customer Care

The Benefits Of SMS and Messaging For Customer Service and Customer Care

More than ever, businesses need to emphasize and improve customer service. As consumers share more experiences online, they influence ever increasing numbers of other, like-minded consumers, driving the importance of customer service to an all time high. In 2015, Facebook alone influenced 52 per cent of consumers’ online and offline purchases, up from 36 per cent in 2014. (The Drum) As a result, a failure to emphasize the improvement of customer service seriously and unnecessarily disadvantages the entirety of business, not just support. The good news is that SMS and messaging are powerful tools to increase convenience, affordability, and accessibility.  

Let’s look at some of the reasons why:


According to RingCentral, 78% of people wish they could text a business, a natural result of generations of long hold times and wasted consumer time. Because customers have been forced to deal with extremely unpleasant phone experiences in the past, many will simply avoid making customer service calls entirely. Ultimately, this leads to negative customer interactions when they find themselves needing support from your company.  SMS and messaging offers your customers a significant amount of convenience that is not likely to be ignored.

Know Your Customers Better

Since text messages are typically read within 4 minutes of receipt, as contrasted with emails which can take up to 4 hours, customers enjoy quicker responses over text messaging. As a result, SMS or text message surveys get better responses than emails. Consequently, customer service polls over messaging provide better readings on your entire customer service experience.

The Customer is Always Right
Because a majority of customers enjoy communicating via text message, it provides better response and experience than a forced phone call. After all, text messaging is the most used form of communication for American adults under 50 (Gallup)

Therefore, by offering them the same ability to communicate in a familiar way with your company, not only will it provide them with more options, but it will allow them to develop a much better relationship and loyalty to your brand or business.