Mass alerts & notifications

A quick guide to alerts and notifications during global pandemics and other crises

  • Chris Piwinski
    Chris Piwinski
  • Apr 21, 2020

Effective crisis communications manage expectations, selectively share information, and use channels based on the urgency of the message. 

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With the coronavirus pandemic impacting virtually everyone, and circumstances across the world changing hour-by-hour and day-by-day, organizations need to be equipped to reliably provide accurate, real-time updates and information.

Effective crisis communications, both within an organization as well as between a company and its customers, requires a delicate balance between providing relevant information in a timely manner without contributing to panic or already heightened states of stress. 

Some best practices are:

  1. Manage expectations through ongoing, regular communication—via regular emails at a predictable cadence, virtual office hours, and resource hotlines, among other strategies. Take things like time zones and the availability of technology into consideration. Forty-seven percent of consumers want to hear from companies either with the same frequency as before COVID-19 or more frequently given how rapidly things are shifting.

  2. Take the time to absorb and digest new information before disseminating it more broadly. The 24/7 news cycle can make everything feel like an urgent emergency; pause to collect your thoughts and reflect on what is truly “relevant” information worth sharing.

  3. Choose the right channel and method of delivery for each piece of communication. Deciding which types of notifications and alerts are best-suited for which channels requires asking two key questions: How business-critical is the message? What is the message’s timeliness?

Learn more with this free e-book all about matching notifications to the right channel.

Three increasingly sophisticated approaches to notifications

  1. Simple notifications

    If you have an app, push notifications can be a good way to reach people, but our research found that just 12 percent of consumers prefer a company’s mobile app for receiving communications. A simple multichannel strategy ensures notifications reach those without internet access, and without going against customer preferences.

    For example, it’s good practice to follow-up on an email via text to make sure families received critical information. Similarly, a phone call to either a landline or mobile phone can also serve as a notification or to follow-up from SMS and email correspondences. Even for the simplest forms of notifications, integrations are key to driving value.

  2. Intelligent notifications

    If your notification is prompting recipients to take a particular action or is likely to prompt a response, you may want to add more intelligence to your notifications and choose a channel that supports two-way communication.

    One way to do this is through Interactive Voice Response (IVR), chatbots, and artificial intelligence to understand if an inbound request should receive an automated response. Automated chatbots and other self-service capabilities put the right information in the hands of citizens faster and more efficiently, while freeing specialists to tackle the complex requests only they can handle.

  3. AI notifications and conversations

    This takes intelligent notifications a step further by implementing some automation with natural language understanding (NLU). By providing some self-service functionality, people are able to accomplish tasks by themselves and businesses reduce support costs. When AI is unable to complete the task, the message ceases to be classified as a notification and is instead escalated into a conversation between a customer and an agent.

    Watch a free, on-demand webinar all about creating an effective bot interface.

    Best practices still hold true, but the reality we find ourselves in means the rules of engagement have changed. It’s business—not as usual. Times of change bring about innovation, and COVID-19 is no exception.

Watch the webinar

Watch our webinar to see how other organizations leverage mass alerts and notification in crises.

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Chris Piwinski

Chris Piwinski

Chris Piwinski is a product marketing manager at Twilio where he works on programmable messaging. His focus is on how organizations can drive trust and engagement with their customers through channels like SMS, WhatsApp, and more. Prior to Twilio, Chris spent time in product marketing, sales, and project management at LinkedIn, Headspace, and a payments technology startup.

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