Leveraging 2-way SMS Notifications During a Crisis

Communication during a crisis response is essential. This is especially true for the COVID-19 pandemic; many organizations are using work-from-home policies to keep employees safe while maintaining operations. Communicating with remote employees is a key part of sustaining this continuity.

This is where 2-Way SMS Notifications come in. This technology not only allows your organization to spread your message in the most efficient way possible, but also hear back from employees during the response, helping you to collect crucial information that will inform your efforts.

The Right Form of Communication When it Matters

When someone receives a notification on their phone, chances are they’ll read that message. The brevity of a short message makes it easier for recipients to read. So if you were to send a mass notification, you’d want to send a short text to increase the chances of it being read and retained by its recipients.

SMS communication has become highly relevant in our modern world. Many people now prefer texts over phone calls and emails. If you want your message to be received and read by the highest number of people, it makes sense to choose the mode of communication that they use regularly.

2-Way SMS messaging not only increases the likelihood that your emergency notification is read, but that you’re gathering all the relevant information around a response. You can collect data about who’s received the message or their status.

This pathway of communication allows employees to contribute to response efforts by their organization’s crisis management team with a more holistic view of what’s happening around an event. They can communicate details about their status, if they’re symptomatic or living with someone who’s symptomatic, and if they’ve been tested. This helps crisis management teams focus response efforts.

The Benefits of 2-Way SMS Notifications

Practitioners need to make the right decision about what is the most effective tool for disseminating mass notification. It turns out that SMS messaging is the best way to reach the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. Pew Research Center did a study in June of 2019 that found that 96% of adults have cell phones, 81% of which are smartphones.

Therefore, the majority of the adult public has a cell phone not far from reach, whereas not everyone has regular access to radio, television, or email. SMS messaging is a fast way to get your notification in front of the people who need to be in the know.

But it’s not enough to just have one-way communication with employees or constituents. Response efforts can benefit immensely from receiving responses back from the people who are being notified about a crisis. You can learn a lot by listening.

Let’s look at the COVID-19 crisis.  With typical SMS notifications, you can notify people of updates in the developing story and provide them with key safety warnings.

However, with 2-way SMS you could provide canned responses to questions such as “Have you been in contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19?” The recipients of the mass notification would reply 1 for “yes” and 2 for “no,” which can help provide data around who is receiving your message and their status.

Now you know where you need to focus response and recovery efforts. You can also give people the ability to update their status as the situation evolves, so you have the most accurate view of what’s going on.

With certain 2-way SMS notification tools, recipients have the opportunity to respond beyond the canned response, and can even include attachments, such as pictures, to help increase situational awareness for first responders. This 2-way communication can inform you how far the virus has potentially spread in your community and where you need to focus response and recovery efforts.

Effective Notification Tools

Mass notifications are only as successful as the number of people they reach. Choosing a tool, such as SMS messaging, that can organically reach the most people helps ensure that a message is heard and that safety protocols are followed.

2-Way SMS notifications only enhance an already superior notification system by allowing crisis and emergency management practitioners to gather information back from their constituents and collect data that will help inform their response. Adapting this simple change in the way you conduct mass notifications will ensure a safer and more streamlined response that keeps the people informed of important safety announcements.

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