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Five Ways to Ensure Important Messages Get The Attention They Deserve

Category - General
by Lisa Eifert on July 19th, 2016

If yours is like most organizations, employees are overwhelmed with disruptive communication from instant messaging programs, email, phone calls and app notifications.

How likely is it that employees might miss an important message such as a security alert sent through your notification service? 

If the answer is “very” then read on. The following are five “reasons” employees give for not getting your messages, along with guidance to help ensure future alerts get the attention they deserve.

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

Your organization probably spends 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 notification 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 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”).

“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.

If 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 as well. 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.

“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.

Make sure your notification services provides ample character limits for your SMS text messages.  This give 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.

“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.

“I thought it was a test.”

If you text your notification service regularly 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.