New Innovative SMS Use Cases Emerging Every Day
Plato once said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Smart guy. Recently, we’ve seen more businesses and individuals create new opportunities and reinvent how they work. These steps are being taken in order to accommodate the new (hopefully temporary) normal of social distancing. Some are brand new, while others take advantage of tools we had all along, finding new ways to adapt them. One of those tools is SMS—or texting.
In a world suddenly in need of contactless everything, SMS can play a vital role in those efforts. Organizations have quickly realized this. Every day, I see innovative ways of using text messaging to keep businesses and organizations moving.
Here are some of my favorites:
Virtual waiting room
Doctors offices are taking the appointment reminder tools they already have and adapting them. Patients text the front desk when they arrive and then stay in their cars. The office is able to send a text when a clean room is ready, helping to encourage social distancing, and allowing time for any sanitation that may need to happen.
Groceries, farm to table produce boxes, packages, food, and wine are all being delivered to homes more than ever. Companies are sending text notifications when deliveries are on their way and when they have been delivered to your porch!
You don’t want to be handed a paper receipt when everything else was contactless. SMS receipts allow businesses to easily send digital receipts directly to a customer’s phone at the moment of the sale. Tools such as Square allow vendors to easily adapt and use this preferred method of sending receipts into a business’ existing POS system without the need for additional equipment or infrastructure.
Measuring online attendance
With church services moving online, passing the attendance pads is a thing of the past. Churches are quickly realizing they need to know who is watching so that they can engage with viewers. SMS allows churches to ask viewers to text in and log their attendance.
Businesses are able to use SMS to communicate with customers to let them know orders are ready and then customers can let businesses know the make and model of their vehicle and when they have arrived, allowing an associate to bring out the customer’s purchase, and eliminating the need for them to get out of their car and come inside.
Now more than ever, grocery stores and shopping services are using SMS to communicate. In-store shoppers and customers use SMS to discuss substitution preferences and to give delivery instructions. And, with newer AI, stores can even let customers, shoppers, and stockers know via SMS when an item is low or has new shipments coming in!
Small business shopping
Small businesses are using SMS and MMS (picture texts) for contactless personal shopping. Stores are able to send photos and prices to customers, who can then place their orders over text and drive over for curbside pickup. I’ve ordered flowers, a charcoal grill, and paint for my back deck like this.
Texting to donate isn’t brand new (fun fact, one of my Bandwidth colleagues, Brad Blanken, worked with the American Red Cross to develop the first text to donate campaign after the Haitian earthquakes.) But today, without in person fundraising events, more and more organizations, both nationally and locally, are adapting and adding this super easy, event-free and contactless tool for raising money.
With mandated changes forcing restaurants to move to curbside and takeout only, SMS is playing a vital role in how we get food. Restaurants, working with companies like Captivated, are allowing diners to order via text, receive notifications, and then let restaurants know when they arrive.
Mental health professionals
Mental health professionals have started to use text messaging to give their patients access to them when they can’t be in the office. As stress and emotional health needs have increased during social distancing and quarantine, more and more providers are turning to SMS as a tool to help patients.