Tracy Johnson explains how implementing SMS into your critical communication strategy can help you keep in touch with people while they work remotely or are on the move.

Does your organisation have the right tools in place to communicate to staff and customers quickly and efficiently in the event of an emergency or incident? With COVID-19 on people's minds, it's an important time to review and ensure your critical communication strategy includes tools to keep your stakeholders clearly informed of any updates e.g. event changes or cancellations, health and safety reminders, delivery notifications and HR communications. The way we work is changing, we need to adapt to ensure we can keep in touch with people while they work remotely or are on the move. Read my short blog for suggestions on communication plans that work.

My role has me working remotely, hot-desking and travelling to visit stakeholder and customers. Working in a separate region to my direct colleagues, it's important that communication levels can be maintained even whilst on the move.

There is a range of platforms available to us email, slack, intranet, skype... but the most common and trusted tool I use is my mobile phone! My phone joins me for meetings or when I'm going for a quick walk around the block at lunchtime, it allows me to multi-task and take calls on speaker while driving between locations. My mobile is the device I'm most likely to be reached on in an emergency or to receive crucial communication.

This is the same for most people, so if your business needs to send emergency communication to staff or customers, sending it to a mobile device will ensure it has a much higher chance of being received and read. Text message has a 98% open rate, compared to only 20% open rate for email90% of text messages are also read within 90 seconds - SMS is a powerful tool when you need to get your message across quickly!

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An important way to value staff and customers is to keep them clearly informed of any updates as they arise via the tools they readily have on hand.

Spark eTXT is an effective communication tool when needing to send bulk SMS messages out effectively. It is a rapid notification system and allows 2 way SMS, therefore is an essential element to your business continuity plans.

The functionality of Spark eTXT makes sending and tracking critical communication easy.

Here are a few suggestions for best practice when setting up urgent and emergency communications:

  • 1. Dedicated accounts - Create dedicated communication accounts for emergency communications and keep separate from day-to-day comms
  • 2. Choose admins carefully - Focus on geographic and personnel backup. Keep admins trained and with ready access to support material
  • 3. Maintain specific contact lists - Depending on the emergency, you may need to split your send groups across regions, units or send to the entire distribution list
  • 4. Keep your staff informed - send regular messages such as updates to Health & Safety, Executive messages, Office closures, etc
    • Sending regular messages (at least every 6 months) locks in your "consistent number" meaning your recipients always receive their messages from the same trusted number
    • HR can use eTXT to communicate to all staff at once. An easy way to send an SMS to confirm emergency contacts are up to date and to communicate important updates
    • eTXT ensures time-sensitive information is rapidly sent. Keep ongoing communication during and after an incident, send an SMS to pre-configured saved groups of teams of workers, first responders, patients or customers. This helps to evaluate some concern and uncertainty for people.
  • 5. Plan your communications -
    • Send the first SMS with an introduction to the channel. Establish trust and ask your staff to save the number on their mobile
    • You can encourage a reply with two way messaging
    • The platform allows users to insert a file or link into the SMS - Compliment your urgent communications by inserting more specific details, such as documents to read, FAQ sheet or step by step by instructions
    • Consider another communication channel that SMS can connect to, such as your website with a short trackable link
    • Track responses easily in the eTXT portal inbox and reporting tools. This allows you to verify worker staff safety and status. Escalate if no response is received based on duration rules you establish e.g. "please respond within 20mins or we will escalate as per our safety procedures..."

During an emergency, it's particularly important to make sure you have an effective communication plan in place. Using Spark eTXT to send staff and customer text notifications is easy and simple to use.

If you would like to discuss your communication plans or refreshing your existing plans, please get in touch. Visit etxtaccount.net or call 0800 GET ETXT to create an eTXT account today.

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