Embarking on a military career often brings with it a sense of uncertainty; around where a recruit might be stationed, the role they’ll be tasked with, how long they’ll stay in one location before moving, and—for those stationed in combat zones—uncertainty related to their safety.
Sandboxx aims to alleviate the stress and worry associated with that uncertainty by making it easier for members of the armed forces to connect with their loved ones—and they use Twilio to make it happen.
“Our main goal is to make members of the military successful by connecting them with their loved ones and providing them with relevant information along their military journey,” explained Sandboxx Chief Marketing Officer Shane McCarthy.
One way the organization does that is through Sandboxx Letters. The service lets families and friends of military members send a letter to a recruit in basic training anytime, anywhere. They’re able to write the letter on their phone or computer, upload a photo, and have the letter shipped to any basic training location overnight.
Accompanying their letter is a pre-addressed return letter and custom stationery, so recruits can respond easily. And, Sandboxx lets letter-senders track their correspondence via their mobile phone.
In offering this service, the company uses Twilio Programmable Messaging to send invites to recruits’ family members and friends, and then confirms they are who they say they are via Twilio Verify.
When recruits enter basic training, they fill out a Sandboxx address card, since they’re not allowed to have their cell phones on them. On average, they provide Sandboxx with four or five family members and friends’ phone numbers, which the company uses to invite designated contacts to the Sandboxx app. Once they’re verified, users can send a letter directly from the Sandboxx app, McCarthy said.
Supporting military members, and their family and friends, is at the core of Sandboxx’s mission, and something as simple as sending a letter to a new recruit deep in basic training can have a significant impact, McCarthy said.
“It helps with decreasing the dropout rate at boot camp,” he said. “Service members get more support, faster, which leads to less people dropping out of the service and ultimately less of a cost to our government.”
Standard mail can take anywhere from three to seven days to reach a recruit, he said, but with Sandboxx, loved ones can have a letter in-hand within 24 hours.
End to end, letters get there up to two weeks quicker because of what Sandboxx and Twilio are doing together.
“End to end, letters get there up to two weeks quicker because of what Sandboxx and Twilio are doing together,” he said.
The results are staggering: to date, the organization has sent almost 4 million letters, with 1.5 million users on the platform in total. That equates to thousands of messages every day—including, in one instance, messages between a member of Sandboxx’s customer happiness team and a user who collaborated to help plan a wedding while the user’s boyfriend was in Air Force basic training.
The Sandboxx team
Providing such powerful support matters deeply to the Sandboxx team, more than half of which is a military spouse, veteran, or has an immediate family member in the military.
“This is important work,” he said. “Our customers are the most important thing, and it’s easy for us to do this work because of the incredible customers we have.”