Information management is essential in any crisis, such as the current Corona Virus pandemic. It enables us to ensure that our clients, employees, friends and family are up-to-date on the most pertinent details and aware of any steps that have been taken or are needed to be taken to manage the crisis.
Speed of delivery and accessibility of information are the essentials of any successful crisis communication strategy as you want the information to be there immediately, but not just there, but seen and acted upon as well.
And that’s where SMS comes into play - delivered in seconds and opened 98% of the time in the first 5 minutes. No other means of communication has such a reach (pretty much everyone has a mobile phone), open rate (e.g. emails have only 21% on average), reaches a customer as fast, nor is as easy to handle as SMS is.
You can reach thousands of people in a few minutes with vital information and only have a single person managing it from their home behind a laptop. And staying at home is a smart decision right now.
SMS is a brilliant tool for crisis communication.
How can you use SMS for crisis communication?
There are two main avenues here to take: internal and external communication.
Sharing information to your employees, setting up segmented groups per office, per team, per any specific group via their phone numbers is very easy. It enables us to deliver information to each segment as is needed.
For example, sending “stay home” notices to specific teams and keeping only the essential staff on site. Or sharing information with the entire company, protocols for future work or news on further lengthier communication that will arrive via other channels.
That’s another excellent way to get the right information to people - if you’re sharing long documents or pieces of information - send an SMS, so people know where and when to look for it. It enables them to gain access to these vital pieces of information that might have otherwise been missed.
For more detailed communication, you can set up automatic triggers in your system to deliver information as soon as that particular situation occurs. Hence no input will be needed, and the information will be there in a timely manner.
And it isn’t expensive to send this information their way. Just a few euros can already enable you to reach a few hundred people.
Your clients would love to know if, where, and when you’ll be able to deliver your service to them in a time of crisis. Which shops are open and at what times, what supplies have arrived, what will arrive and what interruptions may occur - these are just some of the critical pieces of information that help your clients trust you at a time of turmoil.
Segmenting can be done the same way as for internal communication, by group, by location (if known), by demographic, by service type preference, by product, etc. The more pertinent and personalised the communication is, the more likely people will heed the warning, take action upon the requests, and see the service as one that continues to perform.
It’s especially important to take into consideration the fears that people have, the situations they may be in, and how you may be able to help them the best way possible. It might not be a good idea to send a discount coupon or ask them to come to a store if that would put them in risk.
Instead, advocate for online shopping (if you have it). Recommend couriers or other shipping methods, recommend products most suited for the issues one might face and communicate what are the best ways for them to reap the biggest benefits from your service at that time.
How can you start using SMS for this type of vital communication?
So, let’s see how you could utilise SMS for crisis communication using Messente. The first thing to note here is that you don’t need any technical knowledge to start using the online platform. Although if you wish to send messages automatically, a developer can set up the API in 30 minutes. Feel free to contact us if you need help with any of these steps.
1) Create a Messente account
Setting up your Messente account is easy, and it shouldn’t take more than a minute. Just fill the form with your information and the account is ready to go. It’s free, plus you also get some test credits to see if your messages are going through.
2) Add company information
There are a few steps that you need to take before you can start sending. Firstly, you must add your company details. This is important for billing and requesting a Sender ID.
3) Request a Sender ID or verify your phone number
This is the second step you must complete before sending messages. Sender ID is the phone number or company name that is displayed on a recipient’s phone when they receive an SMS. You have two options here. Either you use your phone number or request an Alphanumeric Sender ID (e.g. your company name).
Messente’s team verifies all Sender IDs. This is done to prevent scammers from using our platform. If you need to use our platform for crisis communication, I recommend that you contact our support team after requesting a Sender ID. That way we can verify it much faster, and you can get things going quickly.
Navigate in the menu to Messaging. Then click on From. This opens a window where you can request a Sender ID.
4) Add credits
The final step in the account setup process is to add credits to your account, which will be used to pay for the messages sent. You can use the pricing calculator on our homepage to see how much your messages will cost.
5) Locate the phonebook tool and add new groups
Now that your account is ready, it’s time to add the contacts. Locate the phonebook in the menu and click on ADD NEW GROUP. Here you can segment the contacts that you have, e.g. by job function.
6) Create a CSV file to import contacts and import contacts
To add your contacts to the groups, you need to import them first. The easiest way is first to export the empty CSV file from Messente. That way you will already have the template where you can just copy your contacts in. Then just import the CSV back to Messente. All of this can be found when you click on Actions.
7) Select the group you wish to send to
We are almost done. Navigate to Messaging and select the groups that you just created.
8) Preview and send
Create your message that you wish to communicate to the contacts. Click on PREVIEW, check if everything is correct and then click SEND. And you’re done!