25 June 2018
Many forward-thinking local governments have realised the potential of SMS for having more engaging interactions with their residents – but few have realised just how many ways it can help.
Why is SMS so effective in local government?
SMS is a great way for local councils to offer their residents an easy, convenient, and efficient means of engagement. SMS also enjoys an open rate of 95%, meaning that the chances of prompting citizens to take an action are much higher.
SMS is also a great way for local councils to reduce their costs. By 2020, local authorities will be £9.5 billion over budget, meaning that savings will have to be searched for in any way possible, which is certainly an area that SMS can help in.
For example, the cost to communicate via post to an audience of 5000 would be approximately £2500. For that, public service providers can expect a response rate of 2.5%, which means each response would cost £20. Compare this with SMS, which would cost £190 to connect with the same audience, and offers a more impressive response rate of 10%, and a cost per response of 38 pence.
Councils should also consider their audiences’ preferences. A 2018 survey found that 48% of residents actively want to embrace digital technologies to engage with local councils, but only 7% have actually been able to do so. The time to act is clearly now.
What are the different applications of SMS in local government?
Council tax collection
Residents can be reminded of upcoming or overdue payments with a simple SMS. Reminders can be personalised with names and details of amount due, and also links to automated telephone payment lines and portals.
Appointment notifications and reminders
From council housing repairs to appointment reminders, using SMS makes confirming and rescheduling appointments easier, and more reliably attended.
Remote staff communication and rostering
For councils with remote staff, SMS is a fast, two-way, and reliable way of communicating. Staff benefit from getting immediate SMS notifications in the event of shift changes and emergencies. Projects can be updated, empty shifts filled, and missing equipment identified and sourced efficiently and cost-effectively.
External circumstances like bad weather can affect public services like schools. Quickly and easily send broadcast SMS messages to audiences to let them know about closures.
Major incident notifications
Having a robust disaster recovery plan to manage unscheduled server outages is a mainstay of any professional ICT Services team. When speed and reliability of message delivery are imperative to the success of your plan, SMS can be relied upon to perform.