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Operational alerts are simple notifications that help companies optimize sales, marketing, and internal processes. Operational alerts can keep sales teams informed of new promotions, notify an anxious customer that their package has arrived, or let a shopper know that a product is now available. Many companies overlook and underestimate the value of operational alerts despite the fact that they are vital throughout the sales process, during purchases, and for customer feedback.

Focusing on mobile is essential when developing an operational alerts program. Due to the simplicity and concise information of the notifications, they are perfect for SMS or Push. Email works well, but does not have anywhere near the immediacy (read within 15 minutes vs. 2.5 days) or open rate (98% vs. 20%) as SMS notifications.

Operational programs vary drastically from company to company. Here are a few examples of SMS operational alert programs I have seen:

  • Back in-stock notifications: Created for Stuart Weitzman to let customers know when a shoe in their size is currently available.
  • Sales promotions: created for several restaurants to alert the staff of promotions, internal contests, and discounts that they can now use.
  • Shipment alerts: notifies people if their package has arrived or if there is a delay.
  • Customer feedback: I have seen this at several telecom companies. After talking with staff in-store or on the phone, I received a text-based survey regarding the quality of support.
  • Updates for events: whether it’s a gate change for your flight, a surprise guest at a concert, or the details for an event, keeping people up-to-date on logistical event changes must be simple and immediate.

Any part of your business that involves keeping people up-to-date with time sensitive information  is ripe for operational alerts. When launching your company’s own operational alerts program, you should consider four different costs: software, connectivity, messaging and service. Below is a shortened version version of the cost analysis of operational alerts found in Waterfall’s eBook: 6 essential points for integrating mobile alerts into your marketing strategy.

Software

At minimum, software for operational mobile alerts should send a simple message to a cell phone without outages. If you are looking to charm customers even further, consider some advanced functionalities that allow for more personalization and interactivity.

Dynamic Field Insertion:
Allows messaging to pull information from an external database in order to send personalized updates. Example:

“<FirstName>, Your shopping cart with <#ofitems> items totaling <$totalpurchase> is not yet checked out. You can view online @ mycart.com”

Two-way messaging: allows end users to reply to operational mobile alerts in order to receive more information: Example:

“7/25 flight #215 to ORD has changed gates to A16. Reply Y to receive a link for in-airport directions to A16 from your current location.”

Robust reporting and analytics: increase visibility and insight into currently deployed campaigns and their success rates.

Messaging

Mobile messaging works very similar to email. As volume increases, variable costs decrease.

Think about signing longer term contracts with strong providers to smooth out messaging variability and avoid overage charges. Ask your account manager  to monitor messaging and provide updates on the possibility of lower costs due to fluctuations in the volume of monthly messaging. Application service providers that work with  multiple aggregators tend to allow long term flexibility, competitive pricing and international options.

Service

Maintaining compliance and high customer satisfaction requires a competent support team that can address intermittent issues.

Any experienced mobile industry veteran can share stories of decision makers that launched a mobile program without first finding a strategic partner. This tunnel vision focus on the short term neglects the total cost of ownership and invariably leads brands and companies through the painful (and expensive) RFP process over and over again.Choose a solution that will work today and tomorrow in order to maximize positive gains in corporate value.

Connectivity

Picking a provider that can quickly and consistently deliver a text message alert is essential. In order to easily incorporate the alerts into your business,you will need to find a partner with a robust set of well-documented APIs. This will reduce the setup time of your program, allow you to have a larger range of functions, and incorporate more systems such as email and CRM systems  to your operational alerts strategy.

Wrap Up

Operational alerts can greatly improve the customer journey by anticipating their needs with friendly notifications such as package updates improve business operations with satisfaction surveys, or increase sales with back in-stock notifications. When you identify which parts of your business could benefit from implementing an operational alerts program, start evaluating mobile messaging providers on software, messaging, service, and connectivity. After reviewing the results from your operational program, I am certain you will find the results surprisingly more beneficial than expected.

Download ebook on operational alerts

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