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Resident and customer communications: Focus on their needs, location, more

We talk a lot about critical communication best practices, but when it comes time to actually send those messages, it’s hard to stress the following factors enough. These are critical components to success, and keep in mind that they can apply to multiple scenarios, whether communicating with a county resident, employee or customer. 

  1. Send your messages based on the recipient’s needs. This requires that you know who will receive the message and you know what they need to hear. If the recipient doesn’t want to receive a particular alert, give them the ability to opt-out. Inversely, be sure they can specify what alerts they are interested in receiving. The needs of an elderly couple are probably different than a young couple with children in school.

  1. Target the recipient’s geographical location, city, zip code, street location, or landmark. This provides value and immediate interest to the recipient. A water main break ten miles away from the recipient will not have the same value as it would for someone on the same street as the break.

  1. Have templates pre-built with the basic message. It is much easier to fine tune a message than to create it on the fly. During an incident or crisis, everyone is stressed and trying to respond as soon as possible. Dr. Robert C. Chandler promotes the need for planning before the crisis and notifications. Managerial review, social and ethnic compliance, and clear wording can all be checked and pre-accepted in advance.

An excellent example came from Fairfax County, Virginia, passed on by Vanessa Burnett, an Everbridge Senior Solutions Consultant. When Fairfax County sends a traffic alert, they include the location, incident type, and impact. This helps the recipients decide what they can do to avoid the problem. It is a standard protocol that the recipient can expect and understand. Their message is focused on readability and clarity.

Their message also contains the jurisdiction’s location to ensure that it visible in an SMS. There are multiple jurisdictions in the region using the Everbridge short code, so including it in the subject helps identify the message source for the recipient.

Their message is based on the recipient’s needs, targets the recipient’s location, and is based on a reviewed template that is part of their standard operating procedure.  All of these factors provide a best practice for their alert—something we can all learn from when sending our next notification. 

For more best practices like this, make sure to check out the latest from Everbridge CARES!


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