In times of emergency, customer notifications are key

From school closings to hurricanes, time is of the essence in cases of emergency. When crises arise, organizations must be able to contact constituents immediately, effectively, and across multiple channels. Sonia Chan details what Incident Communications is, why it’s so important, and how it can be used in businesses across industries.
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From hurricanes to snow days, organizations need to be able to communicate important information in times of emergency.

Whenever it snows in Seattle, the city practically shuts down. For a place used to so much precipitation, Seattleites are surprisingly ill-equipped to deal with snow. My daughter’s daycare instructs parents to call the center in case of snow to ensure the school is open. This not only puts the burden on the parents to remember to call the daycare, but it also forces the center to field hundreds of calls from frazzled parents hoping to get their own snow day from their children (or maybe that’s just me).

Wouldn’t it be easier if my daycare could proactively send out messages to parents and staff letting them know that the center is open or closed on snow days? The answer to that rhetorical question is “Yes!” and the follow-up question is “But how?”

My own daycare experience is just a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things. But if there was a true emergency where notifications needed to be sent out quickly, organizations must have a way to reach constituents immediately, across channels. Nuance Incident Communications (NIC) offers businesses, schools, and organizations the ability to quickly notify employees, customers, citizens, and students whenever there is a disruption or emergency. The system allows administrators to send out voice, email, and text notifications via an easy-to-use intuitive user interface to large groups of people. The UI can be customized to the organization and the system can connect to other data sources via APIs, to ensure that it works as seamlessly as possible.

The daycare that my daughter attends not only has multiple locations in Seattle, but it also operates more than 600 centers in the U.S. and 200 centers worldwide. In the case of a Seattle snow day, the administrator could have logged into NIC, chosen the centers that were closed, and the system could have immediately notified all the affected parents and staff via voice, email, or text (or on all three channels plus pager and fax if so inclined), thus saving time, money, and hassle! NIC even offers users the ability to select an area on a map and can automatically identify all recipients in that chosen area. In the case that the administrator can’t get to a computer, there’s also a mobile application that can be used to send out notifications. Additionally, NIC users can track the delivery of messages and monitor responses (yes, the communication is two-way!) in real time.

But while emergencies certainly happen at schools, they also happen across industries. And in all these circumstances, time is of the essence. Organizations can’t afford to wait. Information needs to be disseminated immediately and effectively to all those impacted. Here are some examples of how emergency mass notifications systems can help companies:

  • Airlines notifying travelers of flight cancellations and delays
  • Government and local agencies alerting citizens of an Amber Alert
  • Universities alerting students of a shooter on campus
  • Energy and other utilities companies notifying customers of an outage or service disruption
  • Businesses alerting employees regarding an office closure or unplanned disruption

In an age where unpredictable events happen on a daily basis, the only true constant is the need for a reliable emergency customer notification system. Without that system, the manual effort and human error that could result would be significant. And organizations can’t take that risk. By setting up an emergency communications system before it’s needed, organizations can eliminate the headache, and perhaps heartache, that can come from doing too little too late.

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In times of emergency, organizations must be able to rapidly respond and engage their constituents across a wide range of channels.

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Sonia Chan

About Sonia Chan

Sonia Chan is a Senior Product Manager at Nuance Enterprise. She manages the Incident Communications product as well as the Nuance Insights for Hosted clients. Prior to Nuance, she worked in product management and in financial engineering for financial services firms in New York City. She holds a bachelor degree from MIT and an MBA from the University of Chicago.