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Communication Services: The Key to Better Crisis Management?

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Let's discuss the pivotal role of communication services such in improving crisis management strategies for governments and organizations.
Category: Enterprise Solutions
Subject: BCP
Detail: Intermediate
Author: Matt Thompson

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About Matt Thompson

Matt joined Soprano in 2013 to create and lead Soprano’s global product management and marketing efforts across all regions, including Asia, Australia, Europe, LATAM and the US. He helps shape and execute Soprano’s product strategy both globally and with individual regions and MNO partners. He oversees Soprano’s carrier revenue acceleration model, which includes direct involvement in new product launch activities, carrier-branded industry websites, B2B digital marketing campaigns, and ongoing product marketing. He lives and works in Seattle, Washington.

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Last years have been been a particularly tough. Between fires, economic downturns, and COVID-19, the need for accurate and timely crisis communication services have never been greater.

All these have taught us how important crisis management is, but unfortunately, the reason that this has been highlighted is because communications have often been found wanting.

Crisis communication issues highlighted

Two major issues with crisis communication have been laid bare in the last few years.

First, for some, there is the issue of getting too little information. In a world where people increasingly self-select their information from non-traditional sources and often rely solely on what they can discover on social media, that information is sometimes presented out of context or without a reputable source, and that can introduce confusion, lack of public coordination and even possibly new dangers.

Second, for others, there is the issue of information overload. Because of the abundance of information coming from a seemingly endless array of sources, critical communications often get drowned out by the noise. With so much information at our fingertips, we can become desensitized from paying attention to the most important information, and we may also feel unnecessary stress and fear due to knowing so much about the worst-case scenarios.

Governments are equipped to provide useful, actionable information but most still take a traditional approach: crisis communications are delivered via the media, press conferences and releases, and sometimes posted on a website. The hope is that they will be received by the right audiences at the right time, but our changing media habits and an increasing number of media sources mean that they often aren’t.

The question then is simple: how can we be better?

The basics of crisis communications

During crises, governments must communicate any information that will protect citizens, whether from fire, virus or any other threat as well as any changes to laws, regulations and standard government operations. To be effective, information should always be delivered by officials or experts, and must be fact-based and free of politics.

Press conferences and press releases are fine, but they don’t ensure that a message is delivered to all citizens. Sending communications directly to citizens is a far more efficient and effective model. With the ubiquity of smartphones, the most effective method is through text messages that can be sent easily and instantly. This type of direct contact also allows the information to be more tightly controlled.

But this communication can’t be all one way. Governments also need to make it easy for citizens to interact with them, and an integrated CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) facilitates just that.

Crisis Management

The potential of a crisis communication services for governments

A CPaaS grants a government entity the ability to send messages directly to citizens in the channels they prefer and the ones that generate the most engagement. Text is popular as it has a 5x higher open rate than email, but the best mode of communication is highly dependent on the audience: engaging younger citizens might be best through WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, for example.

Governments can also use CPaaS as a crisis communication platform to set up inbound communications, utilising it in ways that extend far beyond crisis communication. An example: let’s say you, a citizen, want to access the government’s Employment Security Division to follow up an unemployment claim. That agency could set up a six-digit short-code  through their CPaaS, so when someone texts the word ‘JOBS’ to that number, they receive a direct link that grants them access to the relevant agency or service.

How organizations and agencies are using crisis communication services to improve engagement

There are already a number of practical examples of governments improving their communication practices through CPaaS.

In the US, the pandemic is likely to mean many changes  to help make voting safer for the public, including changing, opening or closing poll locations, offering vote-by-mail, and expanding voting times to help reduce long lines or large crowds. To eliminate confusion and help citizens understand exactly how, when and where to vote, at least one state is planning to send text messages directly to voters to keep them updated on relevant voting information.

Another example is a mid-sized city that added text capabilities to pre-existing toll-free numbers. Previously all critical alerts were posted on their website, but now they send information directly to citizens using the toll-free number.

These examples represent just the tip of the iceberg. As CPaaS technologies develop, the ability of governments to communicate with their citizens will only become greater. Information will become clearer, individuals will be more engaged, and 2020-style crises will be managed more effecively.

At Soprano we’re on the leading edge of CPaaS innovation, with our solutions utilised by both the private and public sectors to enhance the delivery of critical information.

The communication of critical events at key moments such as those experienced during the COVID19 pandemic is essential. Previously, the fact that the message arrived on time was a priority. Nowadays, with a wider variety of communication channels, delivering a message has become more difficult. Not only time is important, but also it is essential to choose the right communication channel.

Thanks to CPaaS solutions, governments can create critical alert communications by adopting an omnichannel system. That means from an email, it is possible to deliver the same communication through other different channels such as RCS, SMS, Voice, or WhatsApp, without the need to change platforms or software.

In this way, it will be much easier to communicate with your audience, which will receive the message directly in the preferred channel, allowing real-time communication without any interference. 

A significant point concerning omnichannel government communication is related to the reliability of the provider. In fact, the reason why many governments decided to adopt Soprano Connect solution is connected with: 

  • The high capacity of our network to support a high density of messages per second, making it the ideal platform for mass communication of critical events. This ensures that the information arrives in the shortest possible time.
  • Soprano Connect is Awarded ISO 27001 certification in Australia and the UK & IP Messaging backed by ISO 15408 (Common Criteria)