Work & Money

How SMS Can Help Remote Teams Stay in Touch

One of the most pervasive global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has forced businesses into a mode of operation with which many of them were unfamiliar: remote work.

Suddenly, employees were sent home through various measures of quarantine, and businesses had to adapt in order to stay afloat. Many companies found themselves searching for ways to stay connected. One that arose was business-capable SMS.

SMS for businesses

Part of what makes a business SMS system so attractive is that it’s already familiar. 

Individuals have been texting each other regularly about personal issues for more than two decades. Some of them have lived through the glory days of T9 and the range of new keyboard layouts in Androids and iPhones.

SMS in a business package does more than grab at the nostalgia and familiarity that’s present in personal texting. Communications services geared toward company use, like those available from VoIP vendors like VirtualPBX, expand on consumer SMS by bundling it with a range of other features that help businesses function well in brick-and-mortar and remote work situations.

Privacy

The primary benefit of a VoIP texting system is its privacy. VoIP services work first by establishing a private network of connected devices through the internet. 

The reason that many vendors allow unlimited communications between employees on a VoIP plan is that, when employees reach one another, they’re sending messages no farther than through their own contained network of devices.

With a business phone system, there’s no need for employees to share their personal phone numbers with each other or with customers. This reality applies both to voice communications and to texting. If your employee was to call a colleague or text a customer, they would use their assigned phone number that is part of the VoIP phone system. The number displayed to the receiver would be that company phone number.

Employees, therefore, can text each other or text their customers throughout the day from their own business phone numbers without having to worry about giving up their personal phone numbers. Texting like this can be completed from a range of devices, and even if an employee uses, for example, the VirtualPBX Softphone, on their personal smartphone, the business identity will be maintained throughout conversations.

Multiple texting devices

Another perk of SMS packages in a VoIP plan comes with the multiple physical and virtual devices available from VoIP vendors. Did you know that you can send texts from a hardware desk phone? How about from a software-based phone on your desktop computer? Or within an app from your personal smartphone?

All those methods are possible. All of them follow the rules discussed previously that allow communications to be private.

What this range of device options provides is choice and flexibility for companies and their employees.

Apps on personal smartphones could work well for distributed teams that want to keep in touch with one another throughout the workday but for increased texting volume, a virtual desktop phone might work better.

All these types of phones can be distributed to employees as they work from any location. They can be used in the office, at the home, or from any combination of locations for any number of employees.

Going remote for the first time

Where does that leave you as a business that’s going remote for the first time? This can be a challenging task as a whole, but fortunately, the use of SMS doesn’t have to apply additional strain to the process.

Business SMS setup

Initial setup of a business SMS package typically takes only a few minutes. This isn’t an exaggeration. If you’re ordering a new VoIP plan for your business, you simply need to choose a plan that includes texting and then distribute devices to your employees. For software-based phones, setup is as quick as a few downloads and the creation of users in your phone system.

From there, SMS capability will be available in the same way that voice calls are available. Pick up the phone; send a text; wait for a reply.

In-office communications (remote or not)

A functioning VoIP plan gives your employees immediate access to each other through SMS. With this capability, they can make efforts to stay in touch throughout the workday.

Departments heads will have access to their company directory and can send texts to individuals and groups as they need. These texts might include a reminder about an upcoming meeting for their department or a quick notification about a product update to the whole C-suite staff.

Employees can keep up with status updates like lunch breaks or completed tasks. They can brainstorm new ideas with their teams or reach out to their managers for product assistance. Everyone in the company will be in easy reach.

Customer outreach made simple

Use of SMS may also include outbound communications to customers. While there are federal regulations that restrict to whom businesses can send SMS messages, the upside for businesses is that they are allowed to text customers who have provided prior consent to receiving texts.

This means that one-to-one communications between employees and customers are fair game. Salespersons can, for example, share product releases, exclusive deals, or important service updates with existing customers who have opted in.

Web search results for related SMS statistics are encouraging. With search results showing statements like SMS messages have a click-through rate of as much as 36%, this manner of customer outreach appears to match the goals of businesses (to continue to properly serve their customers) and the desires of consumers (to get good deals on the products and services they use).

One notable scientific study suggests that more than a third of its studied population of 18-24 years olds (in a study from 2007) was amenable to receiving SMS messages from businesses. A majority of people now have experience with texting, and many of them have grown up with this capability throughout their teenage and adult years, so it’s no surprise that individuals comfortable with this technology would choose to see business-related communications in that format.

The addition of an SMS campaign at your business could add an effective layer of customer outreach that’s easy to implement. Setup, as is discussed here, is easy, and with some VoIP providers, you can extend SMS services through Airtable, Trello, Zapier, and many other web-based tools. 

Extensions like these can help organise and facilitate both inbound and outbound SMS communications through third-party services your company already uses. They’re accessible even for small companies with minimal budgets.

Consider adding SMS to your organisation

There are many avenues for which your company may want to use SMS. Whether you choose to take advantage of internal communications, customer outreach, or a mix of both depends both on your preferences and needs as an organisation.

What we can say for certain is that the setup and use of SMS doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Finding the right business phone service provider is essential — for gaining all the features listed in this article and for implementing them quickly and effectively at your business. 

Have a conversation with your current provider or with a prospective provider like VirtualPBX before you get started. A brief chat will show you what’s available and give you important insight into how easily you could add SMS to your toolbelt.

Guest author: this guest blog was written by VirtualPBX, a business phone system provider that offers voice, video, and SMS texting options for entrepreneurs to enterprises.

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