SMS has become an increasingly popular business tool in recent years. But new data released by SMS.to of Intergo Telecom has revealed that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen an upswell in the number of businesses using SMS to send integral communications. From customer service messages to staff updates, the number of business communications sent via SMS in the first few weeks of March increased by at least 32% compared to the same weeks of January.
This chart shows the % of SMS sent including COVID-19 related terms as a total of all messages sent Jan-March.
Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the instances of virus-related words and phrases used in business communications during that time has also increased. Based on anonymised data collated from Intergo Telecom’s platforms, messages including the words COVID, Corona, COVID-19 have accounted for 12% of the total messages sent over all of the Intergo Telecoms platforms in the last week of March. This was the point at which speculation began to grow over whether schools would need to close and the point when the vulnerable were beginning to be advised to self-isolate. The sudden leap can be seen in the below graph.
Being contact-free, direct, immediate and cost-effective, SMS is proving to be an extremely useful communication tool in these unprecedented times. Even the UK Government has employed SMS to provide advisory information, directing the population to stay at home.
But the scope for using SMS to flatten the curve is so much greater. Intergo Telecom founder, Marios Italos, explains:
‘Governments, regional authorities and their health departments can and should utilise two-way SMS to proactively open a real time live communication line with the general public. Most people have mobile phones that can receive SMS. This makes it a fast and efficient way to contact large numbers of people – and allow them to respond. The potential for this at a time of limited physical contact and resources is enormous.
‘Doctors can use SMS to check up on patients, assess symptoms and the need for intervention without exposing themselves to contagion. Governments can use SMS to monitor the changing situation through brief questionnaires. Such proactive interaction with the population can help quickly and efficiently identify suspicious cases, and help the population test, through home testing or kiosks and self-isolate at scale.
‘But more than that, SMS presents an opportunity for businesses to ensure that customers and staff are kept up to date with the changing landscape. Possibly empowering vulnerable groups to access the most-needed services.
‘We’re living through very strange times just now, and it’s important to use all the tools we have available to manage the situation. I believe that SMS could be an invaluable tool in managing communication and virus control in the coming weeks and months.