How SMS Alerts Can Help You Keep Your Corporate Offices Safe

Facility safety at corporate offices depends on the preparedness of the security team as well as the ability for staff members to react quickly to unexpected situations. With an SMS system, everyone's personal phones immediately become useful safety tools with the power to shorten response time in emergency situations. Here's how:

Mass Notifications Can Save Lives

In the event of an emergency, a SMS alert could mean the difference between life and death. You need only look to the example of severe weather warnings to understand the usefulness of such a system. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service use SMS alerts to quickly disseminate information about severe weather. The notifications spread the word much faster than traditional methods such as radio announcements or TV broadcasts because the end user doesn't need to be actively using a specific platform to receive the message.

Similarly, local law enforcement agencies use SMS alerts to notify residents about major accidents, suspicious activities or other emergencies. The Amber Alert System is a prime example of how such a service can save lives and make communities safer and stronger.

In a corporate setting, a security team can use SMS alerts to notify building tenants of a hostile presence on the property. College campuses across the country have used this method to great advantage in recent years, and it's easy to see how the application could apply to a business.

For example, the University of California, Los Angeles implemented an SMS mass notification system to alert students in case of criminal activity, school lockdown or severe weather, reported Campus Safety Magazine. UCLA is one of dozens of college campuses across the country that have adopted the technology to keep students, staff and visitors safe from life-threatening crises.

Establishing a Mass Notification Policy

The key to facility safety is preparedness. Few emergencies in the past doesn't mean they will never happen in the future. By developing a mass notification policy now, you could prevent a future crisis before it happens.

In 2014, panelists from the University of Southern California, Florida State University and Santa Clara University told the Campus Safety Conference, hosted by the aforementioned periodical and website, that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to crisis management. The panelists noted that each school has unique safety concerns that must be addressed individually for maximum coverage.

The same advice applies to corporate offices. A manufacturing plant has vastly different security concerns compared to a tech startup. While approaches to facility safety are necessarily different in a factory versus an office space, the same tool – a mass notification system – could be applied in both cases, so long as policies focused on staff participation.

Crisis management personnel should develop a plan to inform staff about the emergency system and encourage the involvement of all staff members. The system needs to be set up so that the response time is as short as possible. Policy should describe which situations qualify as a crisis so that several standard messages can be developed ahead of time. In other words, it's helpful to develop a comprehensive list of qualified emergency scenarios, then use that list to write clear, concise messages for each. That way, the security team can broadcast the SMS without delay.

To learn more about how to implement an SMS mass notification system at your facility, contact the experts at Swift SMS Gateway.

How SMS Services Improve the Quality of Service At Hotels

You've just landed at an unfamiliar airport. You're tired, jet-lagged and a little lost. All you know is that you have an early meeting in the morning and if you don't get some sleep now, you're going to have a hard time paying attention tomorrow.

Then your phone buzzes. It's a text message with instructions on how to get to your hotel. You show this to a taxi driver, who whisks you away to the hotel's front door. It's late, but someone is at the desk waiting for you. There's nothing to sign because you've already confirmed your appointment with a text message. You grab your key, take the elevator to your room and you're already asleep by the time your head hits the pillow.

That seamless experience is the ultimate goal of SMS services in the hospitality industry. Keep reading to learn how to easily implement a SMS messaging service at your hotel.

Improving Customer Service Before the Visit

Reservation reminders are one of the best ways to engage guests before they even set foot in your establishment. When a guest books a room, you can give them the option to sign up for text alerts. Since the guest's first impression of your brand usually takes place online, this is where you'll want to begin providing value-added services.

Similarly, your business could use text alerts to provide its address and check-in information on the day of the booking. This is a huge help for guests who are unfamiliar with the area.

Travelers coming in from a long flight often just want to slip out of their shoes and relax on their beds. Arriving at the hotel only to find more paperwork waiting for them is a nuisance. With an SMS service, you can provide guests with information earlier in the booking. Remember, today's travelers are used to checking into flights from their smartphones. They expect the same level of service from hospitality providers.

Swift SMSSMS services can remind guests of their check-in and check-out times

Improving Customer Service After the Visit

Once guests check out, that's far from the end of the relationship. Today, more than 92 percent of customers read online reviews, according to a BrightLocal survey. Many shoppers make purchasing decisions based off the word of their fellow consumers. This is equally important in the hospitality industry. A few bad reviews on a popular website could seriously harm your business.

By using an SMS service, you can easily send customer satisfaction surveys to guests after their visits. SMS messages have much higher read and response rates compared to emails and postcards. Messages could provide you with invaluable data for improving upon your current customer experience. Plus, they can give you another opportunity to address any problems guests may have experienced at your hotel.

Managing Customer Experience 

That covers the pre- and post-stay phases {rephrase}, but how can SMS services improve customer experience during a guest's visit? One way is to speed up the responsiveness of housekeeping staff.

An SMS dispatch service puts management in touch with housekeepers wherever they are. This is especially important for large resorts where walkie-talkie communication is insufficient. Anywhere your housekeepers have a cell signal, they'll be within reach of your dispatcher. From a customer service perspective, this increased level of connectivity means you can solve problems as soon as they appear.

Whether you're operating a small bed-and-breakfast or a major metropolitan hotel, SMS solutions can help you improve customer service and stop problems as they happen.

To learn more about how easy it is to implement an SMS messaging solution at your business, contact the experts at Swift SMS Gateway. We take care of the technical work, so you can focus on growing your business.

How Automated Reminders Can Improve Automotive Service Sales

Automotive maintenance is something most drivers don't want to think about. The cost of buying gasoline, changing the oil and rotating the tires are stressful enough.

Indeed, about 85 percent of vehicles on the road are in need of some form of preventative maintenance, according to Brian England, president of British American Auto Care. Despite the need for maintenance, many drivers try to ignore the clatter coming from under their hoods, hoping repairs can wait until they have more time to spare. Perhaps that is why AA1Car estimated that mechanical failure is a factor in roughly 12 percent of automotive accidents.

Most vehicles have systems in place to alert drivers when there's a mechanical issue. The check engine light typically does a fine job of reporting errors, but it's easy to dismiss.

When it's all too easy to ignore the warning signs of car failure, how can automotive specialists increase their service sales? The answer lies in a familiar technology.

SWIFTSMS

Preventative Maintenance Keeps Customers Happy

When customers follow their scheduled maintenance plans, they make life easier for everyone. Drivers can avoid the high costs of repairs, and technicians don't have to deal with irate customers demanding to know what's wrong with their vehicles.

As Wells Fargo noted, the recommended time between automotive maintenance visits has expanded greatly with innovations in technology. Rather than bringing in a car every 3,000 miles for an oil change, drivers might wait until they've hit the 15,000 mile mark. With such a long span of time in between, it's easy to forget and miss appointments.

An SMS reminder system can automatically reach out to customers who are due for a tuneup and speed up the appointment scheduling process. This will help drivers remember when it's time to head to the shop and ensure fewer major repairs disrupt the life cycles of vehicles.

"Preventative maintenance saves customers money and bolsters service sales."

A text alert is easy to read and respond to. Many of today's smartphones will automatically populate the user's calendar with appointment information received via text. This way, drivers will miss fewer appointments and technicians can boost their sales.

Preventative maintenance also offers the opportunity to educate shoppers on how to care for their vehicles. Some drivers may not understand the cost-saving benefits of regular maintenance. Repowering a car with a rebuilt engine, for example, costs between only 10 and 20 percent of the cost of a new vehicle, on average, according to the Car Care Council, a nonprofit funded and directed by the Auto Care Association. 

Simple SMS reminder messages could save customers thousands of dollars while improving sales at repair shops.

SMS Reminders Have Higher Open and Response Rates

Automotive shops should consider choosing SMS reminders over emails or postcards because open and response rates are much higher.

According to marketing blog Business 2 Community, email campaigns have an average open rate between 28 and 33 percent – and only 7 percent of opened emails generate engagement. SMS, on the other hand, has an average open rate of 99 percent with a click-thru rate of 36 percent.

This presents a perfect opportunity for automotive businesses to reach more of their customers and keep them coming back for routine maintenance. Best of all, an SMS service integrates directly with customer records, so automated messages always go out on time.

To learn how your automotive business can benefit from an automated SMS reminder service, contact Swift SMS Gateway today.

Why a Hotel SMS Should Promote An Organic Experience

In a competitive hospitality market, hotels may have to go beyond simply having high-quality service to meet the needs of guests. The visitors of the near future will likely want something more, according to The New York Times.

That elusive new service want is the desire of being immersed in a location of the hotel and getting to know the area around it, as opposed to simply going to pre-packaged events. Text messaging via SMS API tools can help fulfill the desire to have a local connection to a vacation area, promoting daily specials and other items of interest that can really immerse the guest in their surroundings.

The Times spoke to Mintel research director Fiona O'Donnell, who described exactly what it is the modern guest is often looking for.

"Text Alerts can encourage guests to engage in local experiences."

"Guests want to feel like they are experiencing something in the design or the local flavor," she said. "They want it to be memorable and part of the local scene, not like they are tourists."

Though this could seem obvious to anyone who's ever taken a trip, it's a worthy goal for a hotel or other hospitality business that's grown too complacent. It's also not too removed from some of Starfleet Research's suggestions for "guest experience management."

These include suggestions like measuring guest experiences throughout and personalizing service. Applying this idea throughout all processes means; looking more closely at confirmations, doing maintenance updates and messaging important events and details.

Every point of contact is a way to connect with the guest further and leave them feeling like they're getting the most out of their visit. You stand to gain some distinct benefits, such as higher satisfaction and a strong customer relationship.

The simplicity of text messaging is a great way to connect to guests in an immediate and personal way and take concierge and front desk services to the next level in your hospitality property management software. Texting is easy with a simple SMS API via a good SMS Gateway.

How SMS Services Optimize Health Care Resource Allocation

When patient care is your top priority, you need an administrative infrastructure that can support patient population fluctuations and manage internal resources. If your organization hasn't fully optimized its ability to deploy and monitor human resource allocations, you could miss out on growth opportunities.

In the U.S., the recent introduction of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) means that care organizations are under more pressure to improve operations, meet Meaningful Use guidelines and reduce rates of hospital readmission. Failure to meet and report on these goals could mean a negative payment adjustment from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).

By optimizing your resource allocation, your organization can better focus on meeting your chosen MACRA measures. One way to optimize the way your organization manages human resources is to implement a secure SMS dispatch system. Having immediate access to the entire pool of staff members makes it easier for managers to schedule shifts and make allocation adjustments as needed.

The Dangers of Hospital Scheduling Conflicts

Staff shortages within a health care organization can put patients at risk. If there aren't enough helping hands when an emergency strikes, further complications could arise. Not only does patient health suffer, but the organization may be exposed to financial and legal risk.

Scheduling nurse shifts can be difficult – especially when managers are drawing from groups of full-time staffers, part-time employees and outside professionals such as travel nurses. The reason an SMS system is ideal for contacting staff members is a simple one: nearly everyone has a phone on or near them at all times.

Importantly, SMS system integration is easy. No matter what scheduling software your team uses, there's a way to make SMS work for you.

Scheduling nurse shifts can be a complicated task.Scheduling nurse shifts can be a complicated task.

Keeping Your Organization's Network Secure

Health care organizations are required to follow strict guidelines regarding patient information. The privacy rules within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as recent regulatory additions through MACRA, mean organizations can take no risks when it comes to data security.

Although no patient data is sent via SMS, personal communication devices must still adhere to security protocols. SMS offers a secure, easy way for managers to contact staff members without adding any security risks.

An Elegant SMS Solution

By optimizing the scheduling process, health care organizations can reach maximum bed efficiency and work toward optimizing care for each individual patient.

According to Becker's Hospital Review, many forward-thinking institutions have implemented a predictive analytics system that can use historical data to predict scheduling needs on a daily or even hourly basis. However, analytics alone will only get you so far. You must be able to quickly act of the information provided by predictive analysis.

"An SMS dispatch system connects people quickly."

To take a U.S. example, if a predictive algorithm learns that patient admission rates tend to rise over Memorial Day weekend, your managers can act on that intelligence and schedule more nurses via the SMS dispatch system. Traditional scheduling methods – even telephone calls – are often too slow to keep up with the ever changing needs organizations face every day.

When the stakes are high, your organization needs a scheduling and dispatch system that provokes quick responses. Swift SMS Gateway can provide the tools, knowledge and expertise to help your organization optimize its human resource allocation. When you need an elegant, uncomplicated messaging system, choose SMS.

To learn more, contact our team of experts today!

In a Mobile World, Transportation Companies Need an SMS Solution More Than Ever

Scheduling and dispatching drivers seems like an easy task – to anyone who has never tried it. North America's roads are rarely quiet and never predictable. Dispatchers working in every niche of the transportation industry rely on multiple systems to effectively allocate drivers and respond to unpredictable changes in traffic, weather, cargo and more.

In today's consumer-driven economy, transportation is more regulated than ever. Behemoth companies pour millions of dollars into predictive analytics for their shipping networks. Ride hailing apps constantly innovate on dispatch methods. Traditional ride services craft premium experiences for their clientele.

Everyone has transportation in mind, and everyone wants to be faster, more efficient and more profitable. 

Meeting Customer Efficiency Expectations

Today's customers want expediency. In fact, Blue Space Consulting, a group specializing in customer relations, named speed as one of the biggest challenges in meeting customer expectations.

Customers don't just want things immediately – they want them yesterday. In the people moving industry, this means being able to get drivers where they need to go at the exact right moment. The world of shipping is slightly more predictable, but when individual clients get involved, the scheduling and dispatching processes can get messy.

It's difficult to predict the needs of single riders which means dispatchers must be able to react quickly and effectively. An SMS dispatch system can provide the necessary ease of communication required of such a fluid industry.

The same line of reasoning applies to shipping companies. The value of freight is directly tied to its ability to move freely around the world. If a delivery of goods is unable to move – it loses value. In order for shipping companies to maintain the value of their businesses, they must maintain the ability to make deliveries on a strict timetable. SMS dispatches are quick, secure and reliable, making them an ideal solution for all transportation companies.

Dispatchers must be able to respond to individual client needs.Dispatchers must be able to respond to individual client needs.

The Dangers of Data Dead Zones

While it's tempting to rely on mobile data to reach drivers, the infrastructure just isn't there yet. Look at any major network's data map and you'll see breaks in the coverage area. For everyday consumers who live in major metropolitan areas, this isn't usually a problem, but for companies that are always on the move, it could present unwanted risks.

Even when 4G signals are low, SMS is still reliable. The last thing a dispatcher wants is to lose contact with a driver. Even short breaks in communication can lead to efficiency losses.

The Dispatcher's Dilemma

Creating effective schedules and routes is a challenge because it's not simple math. Rather, it requires highly complex calculations with the randomness of human behavior and limits of the real world.

In the science magazine Nautilus, a senior project manager at UPS, Bob Santilli reported that route simulations often differ greatly from real-world scenarios. Santilli reported that food deliveries present the most accessible example:

"Simulated routes get interrupted by real world problems."

A food delivery driver could optimize a route to reach every stop using the shortest possible distance between each point – but if the last person on the list ordered ice cream, they're going to end up with soup instead.

In other words, human communication is required to actually optimize routes based on real-world scenarios. An SMS system makes that communication easier.

Driver dispatching is highly complex when you get beneath the surface of the problem. Implementing an intuitive SMS system is a key way to improve efficiency and meet client expectations.

To learn more about how SMS messaging can improve your transportation business, contact the experts at Swift SMS Gateway.

Why Cloud Application Development Needs an SMS Component

Today's consumers use a number of cloud applications each day, many without even realizing it. As cloud computing becomes more effective and easy to use, application developers will likely leverage this technology more frequently.

In the development process – and after an app has gone to the marketplace – developers rely on SMS verification to maintain the integrity of their user base. After all, no one wants to manage an app solely populated by bots.

While there are other methods of verifying users, an SMS token is more elegant, simple and cost-effective. Plus, the newest release of the Android OS will make it easier for app developers to use SMS authentication.

Android O's New SMS Feature

The latest version of Android, simply code-named "O," will make life a little easier for app developers to use SMS authentication tokens.

One of the biggest hurdles developers face is the dreaded "permission." When a user installs an app, he or she is typically asked to agree to any number of phone permissions. Sometimes, a developer using SMS authentication will ask users to grant the app permission to read the phone's SMS history. In doing so, users won't have to type in their verification code, but they're also potentially giving up some of their privacy.

Apptimize reported that asking for too many permissions, or poorly explaining the need for permissions, often leads to low retention rates. A low user retention rate could seriously damage a developer's business. That's what makes this small addition to Android O so interesting.

According to XDA Developers, Android O will contain a new API that can tell the phone an app is expecting to receive an SMS message soon. The phone then automatically grants a limited permission to read only that expected message. That's one fewer permission a user must agree to, which could potentially benefit app reviews in the marketplace.

Too many app permissions may taint the user's experience. Too many app permissions may taint the user's experience.

Enhancing Cloud Application Security

The cloud is not inherently secure. With so many incoming and outgoing connections, there are many of opportunities for malicious infiltration. Developers may be especially open to this risk during testing periods when a widespread group of users makes connections to the developing app.

"SMS tokens can keep bots out of your app."

At that stage, a preliminary security audit can spot breaches in the defense – but even then, some form of gatekeeping is necessary to prevent unwanted bots from accessing the cloud. SMS tokens can ensure that everyone who accesses the cloud capabilities of the app is indeed a human being.

Today, this level of security is more important than ever. Cloud IT security firm SkyHigh reported that the average enterprise uses 1,427 distinct cloud services and each employee uses an average of 36 cloud services each day. From productivity software to communications platforms, the modern office relies on the cloud to function efficiently. This environment is great for cloud developers – so long as they understand how to keep their systems secure.

Making Room for Innovative Ideas

The mobile industry has made impressive strides over the past decade, and as its future is in the cloud. Cloud app developers need an SMS authentication solution because it gives them the freedom to innovate.

When security concerns are properly managed, development teams can explore, innovate and disrupt current trends.

To learn more about how your development team can optimize its SMS authentication method, contact the team of experts at Swift SMS Gateway today!

App developers can master customer conversion with API SMS

It's a great time to be an app developer. Coding lessons, open source tools and new innovations make it easy for you to get started and improves your opportunities. What's more, there are more developer-friendly additions out there slated to appear in the near future on accessible platforms: Venture Beat reported on the updated features for the Google Play Developer Console in the works. These may include analysis, reporting and statistics tools for a closer look at the actual impact of your work.

A lot of these potential features hinge on the importance of gathering data to make decisions. The emphasis on modularity makes a responsive company valuable to consumers, who are becoming increasingly used to having everything they need on the go.

"Text validation routines are a great way to improve your new app's subscription process."

Nothing starts this relationship well like a simple, personal subscription process. Your users will want to feel like things are under control and seamless, powered by the strength of cloud computing. And the app download, especially for a "freemium" product, can plant the seeds that eventually get interested app users to subscribe or otherwise purchase more features.

Seeing the initial download as the first part of an ongoing effort is important. Crucially, getting a person to subscribe should be an incentive to work on retention, not an endpoint. There are always aspects of your app you can fine-tune, and taking the time to do so may be the key to reaching high customer ratings.

Integrating your subscription routines with a simple authentication routine using SMS provides a simple validation process. An SMS API sets up a clear way to confirm subscriptions after someone is ready to make that commitment to your app or service. Make sure you connect your SMS API to a reputable SMS Gateway that provides superior reach and performance.

Text validation routines are a great way to improve your new app's subscription process."

For consumers, bank alerts are a must

There's no denying that using a credit card in today's world can be downright scary sometimes. With all of the fear of scams out there, anyone with a credit or debit account must be able to trust their vendor. CreditCards.com recently released a poll saying fraud alert warnings are on the rise.

Though most of the bank warnings discovered in a survey of 1,000 Americans were from phone calls, the source mentioned other ways these institutions reach out, including texts. Messaging via text is an excellent way to improve communication and combat fraud.

The survey, which Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted, found that a quarter of Americans received a debit alert of some kind. Even though 37 percent of respondents said that the alerts they received weren't for actual fraud but were just precautionary, this is still be a good sign banks are adapting to the possible danger out there and looking for ways to combat fraud.

"A quarter of Americans said they received a debit alert of some kind."

However, the existence of false or scam fraud alerts is always a problem. For those who can't tell the difference at a glance, it might be easy to click on a bad link when an alert appears to be legitimate.

A recent Google Docs phishing scam was said to trick many by appearing real, as Google said on Twitter. In the case of texts, when fraudsters can mimic actual messages closely, a lot rests on whether or not your financial services firm is optimizing their use of SMS services in their fraud prevention practices. Reeling from a credit crisis or other recent stress could leave a customer looking for bank and financial servicers who takes fraud prevention seriously.

Use text alerts to help renew policies

Text reminders to policyholders for insurance policy renewals are a welcome service that improve communications. When insurance companies don't communicate well, it leads to confusion.

Also, another area text messaging is being used is in checking policy statuses.

On paper, it seems easy to explain what happens when an insurer doesn't continue a policy, but there are many factors. In a piece for The New York Times, American College of Financial Services assistant professor Kevin Lynch commented on a woman dropped by her insurance company after making a major claim for a lost engagement ring. Lynch said that the frequency of the insured's claims made a difference in this example.

"What happened in this lady's case is she had two substantial losses within a relative short period, which is the frequency issue," Lynch explained. "The insurance company said she represents a risk outside of the acceptable parameters, so they chose not to renew her."

"The difference between choosing not to renew and outright cancelling a policy may not be evident."

Even if the insurer is well within its right to discontinue, the difference between choosing not to renew and outright cancelling a policy may not be evident. The Insurance Information Institute said that the amount of notice an insurer gives before making this decision can vary depending on the state. This is also true in Canadian provinces.

Since non-renewal can happen for many different reasons, including some that don't concern the insured at all, being open about this with easy-to-understand messages can at least leave he or she feeling less shocked. It helps when it's made clear cancelation happens for very specific reasons, according to the source.

With accurate renewal updates via text messaging insurers can reach policyholders, and improve communications. It's easy with a good SMS API connected into a reputable SMS Gateway.