How SMS can be an efficient business communications tool

SMS/texting/text messaging… these are traditionally classed as private methods of communication however, more and more businesses are using SMS as a cheap, quick and convenient methods to communicate with staff, clients and suppliers.

We’ve all had the odd text message to remind us of a doctors or dentist appointment or to tell us about an offer or promotion (known as ‘mobile marketing’) but how and why would you use SMS on an operational business level?

Real time

SMS is real time and easily accessed by those with mobile phones (unlike email, smartphones are not a necessity here). It is therefore the ideal way to communicate information which may be of urgency or importance. Depending on your business strategy, you may use SMS to contact staff or clients out of hours or when you need to quickly communicate a change in situation. Ian Brignell uses SMS to manage field carers at Prestige Nursing. He says: “SMS is used to communicate additional urgent requirements available to those who may not be working and to communicate general information updates about clients etc.”

Integrated communications

One better than that, why not use an SMS system in conjunction with your business management or workforce management system to automatically send messages when certain circumstances occur. For example, when a change is made to a field staff member’s schedule, an SMS update is automatically sent to let them know. “The ability to take a new client and confirm jobs electronically is the most efficient way of developing our business in the fast response area. So, we find the integration of the booking system with SMS does give us an edge over our competitors who may not have equal response times when taking new patients.” Added Ian.

Targeted messaging

SMS is a great way to get a specific message to an individual or a segmented group of individuals. The message might be a simple ad-hoc communication, but why not use an electronic system to segment a group of staff/clients/suppliers based on certain criteria, and send a targeted message just to them therefore not bothering your entire database who might not be relevant to this subject.

One way communication

Speed is of the essence when it comes to SMS; it might take 30 minutes to phone all your staff with an emergency, as you are likely to enter into two way dialogue with each one. But by sending one text message with the relevant information to everyone, you can focus on the situation that needs your attention. Two way conversation through SMS is fine for private use but not efficient for business, so use SMS for times when a response is not required, or think about linking the message to a different response method (eg: asking staff to call the office if they want overtime).

Field staff management

If an effective strategy is put in place, SMS can play a vital role in managing field staff. You may introduce a process stating that field staff check for texts before they go to their next job. Ian said:

“Our carers work in runs of calls, but as we are dealing with very ill people, the rotas very often change quickly. Staff are now accustomed to following standard rotas but to look out for SMS updates for changes”