Especially during political seasons, I often hear friends complain about getting numerous automated calls, often referred to as “robocalls”. Unfortunately, frustration with robocalls can interfere with general understanding of the underlying technology delivering them. While most robocalls are an annoyance, the technology used to deliver them has incredible potential to deliver messages that are urgent, useful and welcome. They enable organizations to send tens, hundreds, even thousands of messages at once without manually dialing the individual numbers.
The “opted-in” versions of robocalls that most of us are familiar with include school cancellation and appointment reminder calls. They serve a functional purpose and can be a vital communications tool for groups from large enterprise businesses to families trying to stay in touch across multiple generations (grandma only has a land line). They are especially useful to small businesses because of their potential impact – lots of productivity at a very affordable price.
The aspect of the service that makes it so universally useful? The fact that it’s cloud-based and doesn’t require any installation, hardware, or even software. Some services even allow you to try the service for free by signing up for a trial account on their website. Literally you can harness the power of the robocall within minutes of getting on-line.
For small to medium businesses, non-profit groups and associations, these services are especially useful, with an almost endless array of applications including:
- Promoting specials to existing customers
- Alerting employees in an emergency situation
- Surveying staff or clients
- Recruiting volunteers
- Communicating last-minute schedule changes
- Sending appointment or service reminders
Group messaging services are not all alike so it pays to do your research. It’s true that while a majority of the population now has a cell phone, many still do not. You’ll want to use a service that can send voice calls (even to landlines), as well as sending email and text messages. Some will even auto-post a message to your social media accounts along with pushing it out as an SMS text message and/or an email.
Some services feature bells and whistles that are infinitely useful, like giving the call recipient the chance to transfer the call back to a live person. This is especially helpful when sending reminder calls. If the call recipient needs to reschedule they can press a key and be transferred to a dispatcher or operator immediately.
While unwanted robocalls may be an annoyance, the technology they use can and should be leveraged for good communication to any size group. It sure beats all that dialing.