EMERGENCY TEXT ALERTS
Achieving the desired outcome
An effective emergency text alerting system addresses a number variables: familiarity with the system, trust in the source, reserving for serious incidents only, number of messages sent and text alert content. In this post we take a closer look at the different factors highlighted in a recent research paper that can help improve the likelihood of compliance to text alerts sent in an emergency.
Providing a comprehensive, feature rich notifications platform is a primary aim for Alerting Hub. We have set the bar high so that can we can meet the challenging and specific needs of emergency alerting systems – as well as many other types of business notification system. As such we are always looking to further our understanding and share points of interest with you.
Despite the advent of many new communication channels we still heavily rely on text messaging for emergency notifications. However with consumers being increasingly bombarded with push notifications, marketing messages and alerts from multiple sources, gaining compliance to emergency text alerts is problematic.
A research paper on “Mobile text alerts are an effective way of communicating emergency information to adolescents: Results from focus groups with 12‐ to 18‐year‐olds” whilst focused on adolescents highlights a number of points that can be applied to a range of notification systems – the end goal being to achieve the desired action to be taken.
Here is a summary of the main takeaway points
Familiarity breads content! If you want someone to use and respond to alerts then you must inform and educate them on the system first. Having a clear understanding of what it is for, how it will work and what is expected (behaviour), all counts toward ensuring instructions/advice are adhered to if and when given. This applies as much to a government lead system as it does a parent mail notification system.
Indeed most participants in the survey said “that they would not automatically trust an alert received via text message unless the system had already been widely advertised and they knew that it was official.”
A previous research study echoes these findings – the likelihood of compliance increases when the source text alert system is well known and trusted.
For a message to believed recipients need to know and trust the source of the alert. This follows on from familiarity of the system. If they are aware in advance that such a system exists and that they may at some point in the future receive an alert, they will be more likely to believe it.
It is critical that you can modify the Sender ID of your text alerts so that the sender system can be viewed – a random number just won’t be accepted.
Ensuring the same message is repeated through multiple channels that recipients can receive (voice, email, etc) or that they can actively search for themselves is also key – the alert needs to be verified.
Put simply if the solution is for sending emergency text alerts, then make sure you only use it for emergencies. Events where there is a significant threat to public-health. The study highlighted, “Receiving too many alerts about “minor” incidents is a factor likely to degrade the system’s impact on behaviour.” Recipients become desensitised. A point highlighted when Honolulu changed their weather emergency notification system,
Don’t get caught out. Make sure you have the capacity in place to scale up quickly when needed and the ability to failover between multiple service providers. This will ensure texts and calls still get through despite the high volume being sent.
An emergency text notification system is most effective when reserved for serious events only. However this shouldn’t be confused with sending out multiple messages when there is a emergency. Providing this kind of reinforcement was seen as very beneficial.
Having the ability to create and schedule alerts automates this important activity – for SMS as well as alerts through other channels like voice messaging and email
The study showed the importance of keeping messages short and simple. This can help avoid confusion at a time when the alert may cause fear and anxiety. However for those who would like access to more detailed information a website landing page link, embedded in the text alert, can help. The message is kept short and simple whilst providing access to further information and a means for the alert to be verified.
For a critical text alert message to have maximum impact and generate the desired response, a number of different message components may need to be included. Through Alerting Hub’s API you can incorporate all of them into your solution.
Text massaging brings many advantages to a mass notification system, but sending alerts through a number of different channels is often the best way to ensure the message gets through. For this reason it is important to use a platform that has access to multiple channels of communication. Alerting Hub can support alerts being sent via SMS, Voice, email and more.
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