SMS is Critical in a Crisis

By June 3, 2020 No Comments

In times of crisis, such as the recent Wuhan Virus (COVID-19) outbreak, it is important to understand how important timely, accurate information is for your customers, employees, and stakeholders. A critical goal of a communication manger during a crisis is: avoiding a panic response and providing timely, accurate information.

This article outlines three critical reasons why SMS text messaging is the most functional option to deliver real-time, high-quality, consistent information during difficult times. We also outline a few advanced features that crisis communications managers should look for in SMS service providers.

Three Reasons Why SMS is Critical in a Crisis

SMS is Universal

Everyone has access to SMS text messaging. No matter the phone type -smart or old school flip phone- SMS will “just work”.  SMS text uses the phone’s number (e.g., 10-digit number in the US) and that’s it. SMS text does not required a download to work. SMS text is far superior to communications posted to social media because, simply put, not everyone is on social media. Or if they are, they might be on one platform, not another. Whereas, SMS text is baked into the operating system of every phone made since 2005. It is a universal connector —any phone, any carrier, any number. Due to its universal availability, SMS text is the number one choice for communications managers.

SMS is the Most Reliable

SMS text is a small digital footprint and is extremely reliable and available. As long as there is a connection to a cell tower, your contacts will get your message. When carriers are on peak time, your message will get through. For organizations, corporate messaging platforms (like Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc) are good for general collaboration, but they fall short in times of crisis. Again, the mobile versions of each has to be downloaded, installed, and will require a data connection (which is subject to higher bandwidth).

SMS is Time-Specific, Clear, and Durable

In time of crisis, information quality usually degrades. Why? Because often information gets passed along and each exchange degrades the transmission (think: the telephone game). An SMS text is near simultaneous and it is a clear signal to all. All contacts will receive the *same message* at the *same time*. Because of the small footprint, mass SMS text deliveries (e.g., 1000s of contacts) will occur within seconds of transmission. Because SMS text can be delivered to any phone and because virtually everyone has a phone, the stored message on the phone is a durable history of messages. The contact can refer back to it and react to newer messages.

SMS text is the fastest, most universal, most reliable, and most accurate way to coordinate with any sized group. 

What to look for in a service

There are many SMS text providers on the market. Pricing and features are typically similar. Most of the services are readily available via a web and mobile web interface with typical differences in styles and design. However, communications managers should look for:

  1. Established: Look for a service that has been in operation for years and not a few years (10+). These are the companies that you can rely on.
  2. Functional: Focus on the key things that matter: does the service get the text message to my contacts, fast. All the other stuff is a nice-to-have.
  3. Compliant: Enterprise-level communications require compliance, so look for a provider that has short-code based messaging (more below)

Below are some other key features that crisis communications managers should look for when considering options.

Advanced, But Important Features

Enterprise Grade SMS

There are many providers of SMS text messaging, but for crisis communications, managers should look for high-volume provider that is compliant specifically those that are *short-code* specific. While there are some emerging options that claim commercial-level throughput, the only format that assures high-speed, high-volume performance are those that are short-code based. This improves performance, reliability, and scalability.

Bi-Directional Functionality

Being able to send a message out is important, but communication managers should look for provides that support two-way SMS text messaging. This allows for closing the feedback loop. If a message goes out that could be more clear, some contacts will be sure to reply, so you want a service that is two-way. This improves performance, functionality, and capability.

Link Functionality within SMS

In a chain of distributing real-time information and considering the small footprint of an SMS Text message, looking for a service that has the capability to include (and shorten) a link. A select number of services have the ability for you to copy/paste in a long link, such as a link to a web page or other resource). The provides the ability for a short summary but provide an avenue for more detailed information to be shared. Also, that link can be a “living” document, so you can send out a text with updates, but use the same “anchor” document to have detailed, but updated information. This improves capability and durability of information.

All businesses need an SMS strategy, especially those businesses that have real-time safety or coordination needs. Please contact our team for a 100% no-obligation, free consultation.

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