Unless they are fully prepared, organisations in the public and private sector can be thrown into disarray by unexpected events. These events could be health crises such as COVID-19, or IT disruptions such as smishing scams, ransomware attacks, denial of service etc, or even just plain old bad weather.
SMS has again and again proven to be the best way to keep staff and customers informed during a crisis.
Why is SMS ideal for alerts?
- Immediacy: A mass alert can be set up and sent in minutes
- Cut-through: 90% of all messages are read within 3 minutes
- Read rate: Overall 98% of all messages will be read compared to 25% of emails
- Ubiquity: Unlike push notifications or Email, SMS is “always on”
- Accessibility: SMS is ideal for the hard of hearing
Who’s using SMS for alerts?
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade use SMS for communicating at short notice with staff both in Ireland and in Irish consulates and embassies around the world about a variety of incident types. Read the case study here.
SMS is an integral part of the BT Ireland ECAS (Emergency Call Answering Service) – both to allow the hard of hearing to register and use the service in an emergency, and to capture and communicate the caller location to the response centre. You can read the ECAS case study here.
The NCT (National Car Testing Service) have used SMS alerts to notify customers at short notice when appointments were canceled due to COVID-19, thereby avoiding a huge influx of inbound calls to the contact centre.
Ciara Browne at the Irish Pharmacy Union had this to say about how SMS has proven vital during the COVID pandemic;
“Púca’s messaging platform has really come into its own during the pandemic when we have had to notify our member pharmacies of time-sensitive COVID and vaccination updates, important emails and system notifications.”
Sligo County Council advertised a Freetext SMS response as part of their Community Call initiative to assist at-risk members of the public.
How else can SMS be used in a crisis?
Contact centres, Business continuity departments and Fraud teams can come under huge pressure with increased inbound enquiries during an an emergency so setting up an SMS advice line to ease call volumes can be very useful.
For example, if you’re advertising a crisis helpline you can ask people to send in a text instead of calling if they just need to know more, and an autoreply can be set up to immediately respond with the relevant information. A dedicated number can be set up so that no messages are missed, and if required the inbound messages can be forwarded to an email address or by SFTP, to slot into existing workflows.
If you need to notify customers of suspicious activity in their account, or large volumes of appointments need to be rescheduled, you can send a bulk notification by SMS and ask the recipients to respond with Y or N, so you can drastically reduce the amount of outbound calls to be made. These processes can be fully automated using SMS APIs which your IT team can easily connect to your existing applications.
You need to expect the unexpected in business these days. If you are interested in setting up an SMS alerts service or response line please contact us.