How to use virtual mobile numbers for staff communication during a crisis

How to use virtual mobile numbers for staff communication during a crisis

There are many effective channels available for businesses to communicate with their workforce, such as email, phone or letters. However, during a crisis, speed and reach are two of the most important factors to consider when looking to send emergency communications, two qualities that play to the strengths of SMS.

Most people will have a smartphone to hand throughout the day, in fact according to The Guardian the average person picks up their phone 58 times a day. This close connection to our phones makes SMS one of the most effective ways to communicate time critical information to your staff. With an impressive 95% open rate, your emergency message will be received and read in record time. 

Business continuity plans normally include messages that need to be broadcast to all staff. However, a call to action or the ability to respond are often overlooked, leaving the recipient unable to interact with the message and the sender unsure if the message has been read and understood.

However, in a crisis situation, you may need to hear from your staff immediately after that initial broadcast message has been sent. This feedback enables you to make a quick assessment of the team’s readiness and gauge reactions to the developing situation.

For this to be most effective you will need two-way messaging.

Using alphanumeric originators, such as your brand name, will stop recipients from being able to reply to your SMS. However, a Virtual Mobile Number (VMN) is an 11 digit number that can be used instead of your brand name and will allow you to receive SMS replies directly back from your recipients.

Illustration of hand holding phone, with man next to it holding an SMS bubble

Communication strategy comparison

Here is an example of a typical crisis communication broadcast that does not include a VMN or two-way messaging.

“Hi George. This is a message from the Cactus Energy business continuity team. We will be closing all of our offices and changing to working from home. This affects all staff from tomorrow morning.”

How do Cactus Energy know how prepared George is after sending this message? And how do they ensure that all feedback to the message is stored in the same place? George might text his manager a response or send an email to the BCP team – but how do you ensure that nobody gets missed and all responses are recorded?

The VMN channel enables you to drive a response down one channel and have a single, less chaotic view of the situation.

Below are two examples of how replies to your VMN can instantly update your crisis management team with vital information. 

“Hi George. This is a message from the Cactus Energy Business Continuity Team. We will be closing all of our  offices and changing to working from home. This affects all staff from tomorrow morning.

“Please text back to this message with ‘Ready’ if you are able to work from home. Alternatively please respond with ‘Need assistance’ if you are having any trouble working from home.”

The inbound responses that come back to your dedicated VMN can be:

  • Downloaded into a report by a crisis coordinator 
  • Added to a report via an automation
  • Added to your own employee management systems via our API

Alternatively, here is a conversational strategy which utilises the real-time aspect of two-communication.

“Hi George. This is a message from the Cactus Energy Business Continuity Team. We will be closing all of our offices and changing to working from home. This affects all staff from tomorrow morning.

If you are ready to work from home please do not reply. 

However if you need assistance, please text back quoting your employee reference number and share any issues with us. We will respond as soon as we can via this number.”

The inbound responses that come back to your dedicated VMN can be picked up within your Text Marketer account and employees can then make responses more personalised and ensure any issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently. 

Another important point to make is that you can advertise your VMN in internal communication channels such as your intranet or staff newsletter. This will help to drive even more employee replies and ensure that all employees are aware of the channel. 

If you are looking to improve or enhance your business critical communications over the coming months with a VMN, we may be able to help. Simply contact our team on 0117 205 0202 or at info@textmarketer.co.uk for more information.



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