When discussing emergency notification, most conversations typically focus (rightly) on outbound alerting capabilities (particularly telephone calls). While outbound alerting is clearly the most utilized functionality of a notification system, business continuity professionals should not overlook capabilities for inbound communications that can also be essential for informing people in a crisis. The ability for stakeholders to call into an automated system, navigate menus, and retrieve information could be an important addition to any notification strategy.
For inbound communications, resiliency professionals generally deploy two approaches: Recipient Message Boards and Shared Message Boards.
Recipient Message Boards
Inbound Dialing capabilities allow individuals to retrieve specific messages that were previously distributed via an outbound notification. So, for example, an employee who missed an outbound voice notification could dial into a dedicated toll free number, enter his credentials, and hear a playback of the message. In addition, the employee is not limited to simply hearing a static playback of the recording; he is also able to respond to a question such as “Are you OK?” from within the voice message using his touch tone device. His feedback is captured and available for reports which can be further used by administrators and incident managers for crisis response purposes.
Shared Message Boards
Shared Message Boards are useful for posting recorded messages or instructions to a wider audience. Such messages can be retrieved by Send Word Now account-holders and non-account-holders alike. Shared Message Boards are great for disseminating non-sensitive information such as business hours updates, changing weather conditions, etc.
Managing IVR Call Flows
In either case, it is important inbound callers be greeted with clear interactive menus and automated instructions that allow them to find needed information quickly. To customize this interaction, you should consider a solution such as Send Word Now’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Designer. This integrated feature allows administrators to create and customize inbound call flows using an easy drag-and-drop user interface. It adds even greater power and advantages to an organization’s inbound capabilities.
Outbound messaging will likely always be “king” of the notification world. However, don’t bypass the clear benefits of disseminating important information through inbound methods. They just might provide an extra measure of communication that makes the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful crisis response.