Ensure Notifications Get The Attention They Deserve

As the business continuity expert within your company, you know that when there is a crippling IT concern, looming severe weather, or other major disruptive event, you need to contact your employees as quickly and efficiently as possible. You know to activate your mass notification system, just like you’ve practiced. And you know when alerts go out, every single employee always pays attention to the notifications and responds appropriately.

Okay, maybe the last part isn’t exactly true. Because you also know that no matter how good you are at your job or how strong the capabilities of your notification service, there will always be challenges associated with alerting every single recipient.

To help, here are seven “reasons” employees give for not getting your notifications, along with guidance to help ensure future alerts get the attention they deserve.

  1. “I thought it was spam so I didn’t open it.”

Your IT Department spends significant time educating employees on the dangers of suspicious emails. In fact, they may be encouraged to only open emails from known senders. So if you send an emergency alert from an email account that they have never seen before, they might delete it without ever seeing the content.
When you send an emergency alert, make sure your service allows you to enter a “From” email address for the message. Then, where possible, use the same email address consistently across your notifications. Make sure this address is in your company’s address book so that the alert will not appear to come from an unknown sender. When you train, let employees know which email addresses those alerts will come from so they will know which alerts to trust during a an actual event.
Also consider standardizing at least a portion of your subject line to include identification of the notice as an urgent message (e.g., “Company XYZ Emergency Alert”).

  1. “It didn’t look like anything my company has ever sent me before. I didn’t recognize it.”

You sent a text to your employees but they didn’t trust that it was legitimate because there was no way to identify the source.
When sending a text message to employees, consider using a recipient mobile app with an integrated messenger that works through a secure, encrypted connection over the Internet, instead of a carrier SMS gateway. This means you will avoid the low character limit of traditional SMS while enabling full control over the message look and feel.
Because the foundation of the message is HTML (or Rich Text), administrators can insert a company logo, images, links, symbols, illustrations, media, formatted text—virtually anything that can be found on a modern website—into the message. And, because the message is being sent directly to the recipient’s device through the messenger, the receiver will see it exactly as designed. The familiar look and feel, along with the company logo, will help authenticate the message. Check out SWN Direct for more details on Send Word Now’s mobile recipient app.

  1. “I don’t answer calls from phone numbers that I don’t know.”

When you send a voice alert to your employees, many don’t answer simply because they don’t recognize the number. They have the attitude that, “If it’s important, the caller will leave me a message and I’ll call them back,” not knowing it is actually an important alert.
When employees are issued their cell phones upon hire, consider adding your emergency alert line as a contact with an appropriate label. Encourage current employees to do this during standard BC/DR training. That way when you call the device using that number during a crisis, it will not appear as unknown, encouraging them to answer the call.

  1. “I was busy working and didn’t notice the email or the text on my cell phone.”

You know how it goes. Sometimes employees are so consumed by a project that they aren’t monitoring their email account very closely. Their phone is tucked away to avoid the distraction, and maybe they even have headphones in. Sure, you tried to reach them in several ways, but nothing got their attention.
Consider using a Desktop Alerting feature as part of your notification plan. When you issue a desktop alert, a box with the alert will pop up on the screen directly in front of them. They cannot minimize or ignore the message to keep working. Only after they click on the message, acknowledging receipt, will they free up their computer. This will ensure that those busy employees will notice!

  1. “I read the text but there were too many abbreviations. I didn’t understand what it meant.”

Sometimes there are so many details you want to give your employees that you end up making unusual abbreviations to stay under the SMS character limits. But remember, the people you are communicating with may not be in your field of work. So an abbreviation that is common to you, may not be common lingo to them. Even worse is an abbreviation that you’ve made up on the spot, hoping that your employees understand what you mean. That doesn’t usually end well.
A messaging system that uses a secure, encrypted connection over the Internet instead of an SMS gateway is not subject to the same character limitations provided by SMS or CSMS. Messages sent over the internet can contain up to 2000 characters, compared to only 160 for SMS. This gives users the freedom to craft an accurate notification for the situation at hand, reducing the risk of misunderstanding and eliminating the wasted time associated with your recipients turning to external, and sometimes unreliable, resources for more details.

  1. “I got the call, but my phone was cutting out so I didn’t get all of the details.”

If the phone is cutting out when your recipient answers your call, specific details of the message could be missed. This could prohibit the listener from gaining all of the necessary information to take appropriate action.
An inbound communication platform gives stakeholders the opportunity to call into a “message board” to gain or report valuable information regarding the situation at hand. Inbound communications enable a user to listen to a message multiple times and access the information when it is convenient.

  1. “I thought it was a test.”

You test your business continuity plan regularly. But sometimes when the real crisis happens, swift action is not taken because the employees assume it is another test.
Not testing your plan is not an option. So when testing your notification system, have clearly defined language in your messages that indicate the messages are a test. Communicate to your employees that while regular testing does occur in a variety of forms, you will never indicate that something is an “active emergency” if it is not. It is important they know when you say a critical situation is at hand, that it is a real emergency.

Every message counts. That’s why you must do everything in your power to make sure your employees have every opportunity possible to receive, understand and respond to alerts. When it comes to a critical situation in your workplace, don’t settle for reaching most of the people affected. Incorporate these tactics to address your ignored alerts and get the response you’re seeking to support business resiliency and employee safety.