Text Messaging for Employment / Social Services: 6 Benefits
If you manage an employment or social services agency you must use text messaging to reach your contacts and clients.
Not only are people not responding to voice calls like they used to, but many prefer text messaging over all other communication channels. Indeed, some people may only be accessible via text as it's the only communication channel option available to them.
The end result is simple; if you can’t reach them, you can't help them.
That’s a problem. Not only does this mean you can’t provide your clients with the support they need, if you receive government funding that is based on a performance metric, then it’s in jeopardy too.
So if your clients aren’t checking their voice mails or emails, what are they doing?
Simple. They’re texting.
I bet you already knew that. ?
So with that said, here are 6 reasons why employment and social service agencies need to connect with text messages…
Reason #1: Text Messaging is Cheap (Usually Free!)
If you work with people who are struggling, battling poverty, or unemployed, there’s a good chance text messaging isn’t just their preferred means of communication… it’s their ONLY means of communication.
In general, these folks don’t have…
- Home internet.
- Regular Wifi access
- Expensive mobile plans that include voice minutes or data.
- Smart phones
… and some of them may not even have the ability to make voice calls on their phones, opting instead for much cheaper text plans.
In other words, if you can’t reach these people via text, there’s a good chance they’re going to fall through the cracks because you won’t be able to reach them at all.
In a recent discussion with a social services manager, I was told that for some clients, their only option to be able to reach them is to call a friend or family member who has a landline, and ask that person to rely a message to the client when they see them next. It’s hardly an effective system.
Reason #2: Everybody Texts
Text messaging is a simple, un-intimidating technology that even your grandmother can use comfortably.
It works on phones long considered obsolete, doesn’t require Internet data or a smartphone to access, nor the installation of any apps or programs.
As a result, almost everybody texts. The latest numbers from Pew Research look like this…
- 18–29 years of age: 100% of people text
- 30–49 years of age: 98% of people text
- Over 50 years of age: 90% of people text (including my Mom, who’s 75!)
Technology based communication channels only work if they have wide-spread adoption and appeal.
That’s certainly the case with texting.
Reason #3: Text Messaging is Fast and Efficient
This is beneficial to staff or case workers, as well as clients. A typical “voice” conversation has to follow certain expected rules of decorum. In other words…
If I call you to ask about the delivery of a report, I’m going to say hello, ask about your spouse and kids, make a comment or two about the weather or some other thing we may have in common, before moving on to what I was actually calling about.
Bingo. 5–10 minutes gone.
If I text you, it’s a different story, because there’s no similar expectations. Because of the nature of text messages brief—even curt—messages are viewed as normal.
I could send you a text…
“Hey. Can you shoot over that report today?”
… and you wouldn’t be the slightest bit upset, because this is how people communicate on this channel.
For case workers, this allows for super efficient communication, freeing up their time for other things. For clients, this efficiency is also appreciated.
Reason #4: Text Messages Bypass Personal Filters
If you get a phone call on your cell phone from a number you don’t recognize, what do you do?
If you’re like most people, you let it go to voicemail. After all, if the caller has something important to say, she’ll leave a message.
If it’s important to you, you’ll return it… if you remember to check it at all.
But if you get a text message, what do you do?
You read it immediately.
Because the fact that the message has arrived via text identifies the sender as being part of your social circle or tribe.
These messages are of the highest priority to you because they always originate from someone you care about.
This is in part why text messages have such a HUGE open rate—between 95–99% of text messages are opened and read (and even the ones that aren’t opened are normally previewed on your phone).
Reason #5: People are Dropping Their Landlines
The Financial Post reported that more 500,000 Canadians dropped their landlines in 2015. An article published in The Star in May 2017 reports that there are now more cellphone-only homes than landline-only homes in both the U.S. and Canada.
And the trend continues.
For you, this means that soon the only way to connect with your clients will be via a cell phone or mobile device. And, as you already know, people aren’t responding to voice mails (even moreso when a call arrives to a mobile device).
So once again, sending a text message is your best—and possibly only—option.
Reason #6: Your Funding May be in Jeopardy
Let’s face it, if you’re organization is partially funded by government monies, chances are those funds are tied to a performance metric. An inability to reach your audience can seriously impact your ability to maintain your performance standards.
And that’s a problem.
In other words, if you can’t reach people, it’s impossible for you to fulfill your mandate, and if you can’t fulfill your mandate, your entire organization is in jeopardy.
Sure, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but you get the point… it all comes down to connecting with your audience.
If you can’t do that, you’re in big trouble.
Reason #6: Texting is Efficient and Affordable
Traditional advertising is known as “spray and pray” advertising.
You blast your promotional message to as many people as possible in the hope that enough of them show up in your business and generate sufficient revenue to cover the costs of the campaign.
The big problem with traditional advertising is that you're mostly paying to reach people who aren't interested in your offerings.
With SMS / text messaging, this is never the case; you're only ever paying to reach the people with whom you have a relationship, people who are qualified as interested in your offers.
As result there's no waste, you get vastly better response rates (as much as 10X compared to traditional campaigns, studies show) and a much more attractive return on investment (ROI).
The Challenges of Texting Your Clients
Enabling your employment or social service agency with the ability to text your clients to date hasn't been feasible…
- Your staff won’t want to use their own phones and surrender their privacy.
- Purchasing multiple phones for all staff members is simply not financially feasible.
- Sharing several phones among staff members isn’t efficient or practical..
- Sharing phones means your clients can’t have an expectation of privacy in conversations with case workers, since those messages are viewable by anyone with access to the phone.
- There’s no way to monitor messaging for compliance.
- No easy way to archive conversations for your records.
Our CONNECTsms software solves these problems.
It's a special cloud-based software service that allows you, your staff and your case workers to “connect” to your audience with simple text messages from a secure online portal.
Whether you need 3 staff members to access or 53, it doesn’t matter. All can be added to CONNECTsms for efficient client communication.
Your clients will be thrilled, because no additional steps are required by them to receive your messages—these are simple text messages, identical to the ones you send from your own phone.
What’s likely to be most exciting to you, is that CONNECTsms was designed for your industry, based on consultations with social services and employment agencies.