Budgets are squeezed these days, and we’re all being asked to do more with less. Is there a way to get more out of the tools you already have? The answer may be easier than you think.
Notification is one powerful tool that can do much more than just alert the masses in case of emergency. As a business, you’ve taken the first step and invested a lot into your notification system; by expanding its use throughout your company, everyone will see the value of that investment. Read on to see how companies like yours use notification in unexpected ways - and in the process, make business operations run more smoothly and improve relationships with teams, customers, and partners.
- Alert your team - A savvy sales manager needed to alert the team about price and product changes, and there was no wiggle room for those who didn’t get the message. An alert was sent to everyone at once, with a request for a confirmation in response, and voilà - complete accountability.
- Keep classes on track - A teacher called in sick just before the start of a university class, and a substitute had to be found immediately. An alert was quickly sent to all qualified substitutes, and one accepted the job. The substitute was connected to the administrator via a one-touch call bridge to finalize all details and keep the course on track.
- Protect the people - One large company used notification to reach everyone on its campus, when all staff, service personnel, and visitors had to evacuate due to a gas leak. As well as alerting its own security team, the company alerted police and emergency response teams to assist with the evacuation.
- Merger magic - During business negotiations for an impending merger, CEOs alerted various groups within both companies as the merger developed - delivering an accurate and controlled message. Notification ensured that all employees received the same information at the same time, rather than through an unreliable grapevine.
- Everybody out - A flood was raging, and response crews had to quickly locate residents who needed help. City phone lines were down, so the company sent a notification to all residents via mobile devices. Response choices let recipients indicate whether they were safe or if they needed help, automatically capturing their locations for expedited help.
- Prisoner on the loose - One municipality, when a dangerous prisoner escaped from jail, alerted citizens and deputized a team of 450 in one night to search for the criminal. The escapee was quickly apprehended and subdued before causing greater harm.
- Information needed - A sales director needed the latest commit numbers at the last minute. He launched a notification to the team requesting the numbers, letting the system automatically log responses as they came in, and he easily summarized them all in time for his meeting.
- Big project to manage - One project manager keeps up with team’s and individual’s progress by using notification to manage a complicated deliverables list. No more excuses about not getting the message or delayed responses because of e-mail inaccessibility.
- Office management - One large office divides all workers into groups by business and by floor. This way, notifications detailing work being done that could affect the comings and goings of workers, like parking lot resurfacing or elevator repair, can be sent to just those who may be impacted.
- Special promotion - Rather than picking up the phone to announce special promotions or price changes, one sales manager uses notification. The phone is used for a more personalized follow-up call after the recipient has time to process the initial information sent via notification.
- Customers first - Beef up your customer service like the account manager who alerts all his mobile reps through messages sent via voice, text, and e-mail services. The real-time notification ensures that reps always know the most important business news and answers to customers’ questions.
- Product recalls - Rather than calling distributors one by one, this manufacturer sends an alert to all at once, inviting them to join a call with just the touch of a button. The “publish once, reach many” model helps answer everyone’s questions and makes sure the same information reaches all distribution channels.
- Surveys - HR departments use notification to deliver a quick survey. Whether it’s the choice between entrées for the company party or which insurance plan they wish to join, even the worst procrastinators take heed when they get an alert.
- Crazy code changes - The healthcare industry is notorious for changing insurance codes often, and everyone has their own unique system posing unique challenges for data management. When a code changes, smart administrators let all providers know at once with an alert.
- All around the world - Large conglomerates often have workers in various parts of the world. When the tsunami struck Indonesia in 2004, one such company sent its notification database to the local aid agency, giving the agency a way to directly check on workers and expedite rescue efforts.
- Show you care - A healthcare organization uses notification to reach seniors in their homes by sending automated wake-up calls, medication reminders, and messages just to check that all is okay; if they don’t get an answer, an alert is sent to a designated caregiver who will look in on them.
- Keep it quiet - When something happens to upset the calm demeanor of one luxury hotel, like a brawl or accident, security personnel are quickly and discreetly summoned using notification. Once the situation is resolved, the all-clear message is sent with patrons being none the wiser.
- Sharing the news - One HR department uses notification to share health information during flu season, summer heat waves, wildfire season or even when parking is disrupted by a resurfacing project.
- Looking out for the team - IT departments often use notification to automate system alerts and manage help desk tickets, helping to meet service level agreements (SLAs) and keep businesses running smoothly.
- Travel warning - When the Icelandic volcanic eruption interfered with air traffic, one company notified corporate travelers to let them know what to do in the event of travel interruptions. With quick responses, the company easily tracked where its staff was and identified who was stranded.
- Keep execs in the loop - When the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan interrupted business, a multi-national company sent an alert to executives at all locations to request they join an impromptu conference call to coordinate recovery efforts and contingency plans.
- The personal touch - The thoughtful CEO of a large, multi-national organization used notification to leave a thank-you message - in his own voice - for thousands of employees after a particularly successful quarter. The personal message gave everyone a sense of value and appreciation.
- Inside communication - HR departments use notification to announce just about anything, like holiday parties, training sessions, and other corporate events, automatically sending reminder notices and tracking RSVPs.
- Going dark - In preparation to conduct maintenance, a power company used notification as a way to alert customers of impending outages. Alerts were sent via landline, cell, text, and e-mail services to increase the likelihood of receipt; the alerts automatically repeated until recipients acknowledged receipt.
- Hurricane on the horizon - When hurricane threats surfaced, one security director used notification to keep everyone at that refinery apprised as the weather system developed, sending alerts remotely from her cell phone while she remained at home safeguarding her own small children.
- Migratory alerts - When a company decided to migrate to a new networking system, employees, suppliers, and customers had to be notified. Alerts were delivered weeks before the update, explaining the process and what to expect to ensure all went smoothly, without interrupting business operations.
- All shook up - After an earthquake, security officials at one company used notification to check in with staff at various plants to assess damages. Supervisors responded immediately and quickly alerted staff if they needed to evacuate or take other safety steps.
- Casino capers - The security department of a major casino discreetly notified security staff when there is misbehavior or a disruption on the gaming floor. When adequate personnel responded they were on the way to resolve the problem, a “situation handled” notification was delivered without alerting the masses.
- Bombs away - When a bomb threat was recently called into a resort hotel, both staff and emergency responders had to act quickly to evacuate guests and staff. An alert was sent to all guests, no matter where they were, using cell numbers gathered through the reservation process.
- Musical mayhem - When a multi-day concert act was delayed, disrupting a complicated schedule, an alert was sent to all organizers. The team joined a conference call and rearranged schedules quickly, avoiding an embarrassing lull and without upsetting the crowds.
- Security breach - If a bank’s Web site experiences a security breach, sensitive customer data may be compromised. One bank protects itself by automatically launching an alert to on-call IT staff whenever suspicious activity is detected, using the cascade feature in case the alert needs to be escalated quickly.
- Opportunity knocks - When a stock opportunity presents itself, one broker contacts investors using notification. Rather than dialing each one and explaining the opportunity, he reaches all potential investors through a single message. The call bridge feature then connects clients directly to him for questions or to move forward.
- Cable cut - When a construction crew cut the fiber optic cable to a financial institution, manual processes had to be adopted, severely slowing traffic. Notification helped deliver an alert to all off-duty staff, no matter where they were, quickly finding additional tellers to come and help out.
- Hospital overwhelmed - When a major disaster overwhelmed a large hospital, an immediate bed, staff, and supply count was needed. The job was accomplished smoothly by sending an alert to on-duty nurses, requesting a count and letting the system log responses as reports rolled in.
- Something fishy - When food alerts and recalls happened, one company reacted swiftly with notification, alerting all customers with lot codes and other pertinent information. Stakeholders joined a conference call with the touch of a key to decide how to best manage the situation.
Now you get the picture - notification is no longer just for emergencies. You can get more out of your notification system by expanding the way you think about it, and by doing so, you’ll save money while improving your business operations - not to mention your staff, customers, clients, and partners will appreciate the extra communication.
Ann Pickren is an expert in business continuity/disaster recovery, crisis management, and supply chain management and acts as strategic counsel for many Fortune 500 companies. In her role as vice president of solutions at MIR3, Pickren evangelizes MIR3 solutions to the BC/DR market and consults with customers to develop emergency management and business continuity best practices.