SMS messages were first developed in the 1980s – long before the iPhone, Amazon Echo or WhatsApp. With Chain SMS now in 10% of practices in the UK, and our practices sending over 20,000 text messages each day, we wanted to highlight some of the main reasons that text messaging is such a powerful channel for communication.
With over 95% of adults in the UK using a mobile phone, SMS is one of the most available channels of communication. It does not require any additional effort on the recipient’s behalf – they don’t have to login anywhere, download or install anything. They don’t even need to have data on their phone. Unlike a phone call, text messages allow the recipient more time to process information, and they can reference it again in the future.
90% of people read a text within 3 minutes of receiving it. Letters can take days or even weeks to be delivered. 12% of letters are lost, and 37% are sent to the wrong address. People often can’t take calls when at work. Many citizens won’t answer calls unknown numbers, and fewer people are listening to voicemail than ever before. Text messaging allows direct communication with an individual in a matter of seconds. It doesn’t have to go through anyone else, reducing the chance the intended message will be lost or miscommunicated (e.g. from a GP through their reception team).
Email has become increasingly flooded with information that is of little value to the person receiving it. Emails containing vital information are easily lost or overlooked. While messaging apps like WhatsApp are used by many, they are often muted to reduce the heavy incoming volume of notifications. Text messaging is rarely used for marketing or spam and has lower volumes of messages than other channels, meaning people are more likely to pay attention.
Texts are cheap to send. They allow you to get your message to a patient efficiently (and in the case of Chain SMS, without spending any money!). Sending a letter costs 56p for the second class stamp, plus the price of the envelope, paper, toner and time.
Using text as a channel for communication forces you to stick to the point. We are often tempted to write more than we should, which for a patient can be overwhelming. Text character limits give you enough space to communicate what you need to, but encourage you to write concisely.
6. It's easy Most mobile phone owners are familiar with how texting works. It’s straightforward, simple and quick, meaning it’s more likely to be used.
Automating, responding, delaying and scheduling…. watch this space!