How to effectively engage your audience using SMS in a time of crisis

Jonathan Ryan – April 24, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has people around the world social distancing, staying at home and complying with government requests to limit travel. People need reliable communication now more than ever and mobile messaging is arguably the most robust, timely and wide-reaching form of communication.

Delivering essential information & updates

Governments around the world are using SMS to keep their citizens informed about COVID-19 related containment measures. Australia, the UK, United States, South Korea and European nations have all turned to text to keep citizens informed of new stringent shutdown measures and other pandemic related information.

The Australian Government used text messaging to announce the first tranche of its COVID-19 countermeasures. The message explained basic social isolation requirements and included a link to the Australian Government’s COVID-19 website for anyone who wanted more information.

South Korea has been an early adopter of SMS in the fight against COVID-19. Texts are sent several times a day to remind people how to practice proper social distancing, hand washing, coughing etiquette, and how to care for seniors. There have also been instances of SMS being used to detail a person’s movements from days prior before, in an example of messaging assisting with contact tracing.

The UK’s National Health System (NHS) is using text messaging to check in on suspected COVID-19 sufferers. The messaging asks patients about their wellbeing and provides support to those who might need it during their isolation period so they know they’re not in it alone.

How and why to use mobile messaging during COVID-19

For non-government businesses, COVID-19 has caused a dramatic change in service delivery.

Online sales have become the only way that many retailers can keep the lights on and the rise in online purchases has caused a boost in home deliveries.

SMS is a great way to keep customers in the loop about delivery times and keep them updated on when to expect their purchase, particularly if there are delays or changes. SMS should also be used to keep customers informed about new stock, sales events and other activity that will interest them.

Likewise, if you’re a restaurant that’s transitioned to delivery or pick-up only, you can use mobile messaging to alert patrons about new menu options, timely deals, changed operating hours and pick up arrangements.

While you’re separated from your customers, mobile messaging enables you to better communicate useful information, stay engaged with them and remain front of mind.

Practicing good CX during a pandemic

Customer experience has never been more important. Mobile messaging lets you get messages out quickly and efficiently. It also enables real-time, two-way conversations with your customers that don’t require extra staff to man the phones. Give customers the opportunity to ask questions or share concerns about things that have changed, such as impacted travel plans if you’re an airline or new rules about social distancing if you’re a courier delivering an item to their house.

For telecommunication providers, keeping customers informed is critical. In the current climate, people are relying heavily on the internet for entertainment, information, work and communication with the outside world. Telcos need to let customers know about an outage immediately, and then provide ongoing updates and support as the issue is rectified. Mobile messaging, which doesn’t rely on internet, is the perfect way to quickly and efficiently get the word out to the those affected and reassure them.

The keys to successful mobile messaging

There are a few critical elements to consider when messaging your customer base.

  • Be brief. Succinctness is a key trait in any communication. Committing to clarity and brevity in your messaging means there is less for a customer to misunderstand.
  • Be restrained. With worldwide stress levels at an all-time high, reaching out to your customer base without good reason might come off as inappropriate. Keep your messaging to what is necessary, offering useful information or valuable entertainment and services.
  • Be a trusted source. Make sure that whatever you’re sending is legitimate, researched and considered. Research shows that social media as a channel ranks the lowest for consumer perception of authenticity and trustworthiness, and even traditional news sources aren’t as trusted as they used to be.

Engagement through messaging

While we’re all in lockdown, our constant companions are our phones, making them the ideal place to reach customers.

Mobile messaging is hugely accessible and doesn’t rely on an internet connection, guaranteeing your message will be seen.

In a time when customers are crying out for contact, mobile messaging delivers.

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