How about this?
If you know your friend's phone number and cellphone provider, you can easily deliver a text through email. Combine your recipient's 10 digit phone number with one of these domains:
Alltel: @message.alltel.com (or @mms.alltelwireless.com for picture messages)
Verizon: @vtext.com (or @vzwpix.com for photos and video)
For example, if the phone number is (123) 456-7890 and the owner's wireless carrier is AT&T, you would send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When he or she replies to your text, the message will go straight to your email's inbox. Keep in mind a longer email will be broken up into multiple text messages, and standard text message rates apply to recipients because the messages are sent as regular texts.
We used to use the email method John describes at one of my old jobs. It worked ok. It did get annoying being limited in characters, though.
What kind of phones are technicians using? Do you assign them phones or are they all using their own?
If it's an iOS/Android standard, you could use something like Google Chat or Skype to talk back and forth. Since they both have a desktop client, it becomes quite easy to reply without picking up a phone to text.
Google Voice gives you a phone number and you can use the desktop app, mobile app, or native texting app on phone to text back and forth. It is great that you are not tied to one physical device.
there is a great app for Android called MightyText. loads on the Chrome browser I use it all the time to text my technicians from my computer. it syncs with your cell phone and shows the text message on both. And it's free.
IPVMU Certified | 06/22/15 10:42pm
We use an app called Pushover. App costs $US4.99. After that it includes 7500 messages a month before further charges apply. There are android, IOS & desktop apps. Just send an email to the email address applied to the account & it gets sent to the phone through the app with appropriate tones to alert user that a message has arrived. Tech can answer by replying to the senders pushover email address.
IPVMU Certified | 06/23/15 05:20pm
Voxer is a great option. It has been around for years and years and still is updated frequently with new features. Including a stupid apple watch app apparently. You can talk back and forth (like the old Nextel’s Direct Connect) or text. It works individually or you can text/talk to groups. Works great and is tried and true.
thank you for all the replies. I will check into all the suggestions. Does Mightytext and Pusher have group messaging and reply to all?
Am I missing something or do your techs not have smart phones? Gmail all around.
Get a Apple Computer and use iMessage
If your techs have smart phones I have found that Slack works really well and is great for sharing pics and other attachments between field techs and the office. Best part is its FREE.
Mighty text does allow group texts and replies