SMS can help stremline public spending

According to figures published by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, if the Government is to reach its borrowing target by 2015, it must cut overall public spending by £456 billion over the next 4 years. No wonder local authorities and supporting agencies are under such immense pressure to run their departments more efficiently, drastically reduce costs and streamline overall services.

Martha Fox, the UK Government’s digital champion believes that more than £2.2billion could be saved annually if routine public services (income support or tax benefits, for example) were digitalised and citizens were encouraged to answer their own queries online using “self-service” style applications.

Significant savings could indeed be made, but let us not forget that even in our digital age,  a third of low income UK households do not have access to the Internet at home and that one in four adults in the UK have never even been online.

In order for self-service applications to be feasible, other communications channels need to be brought into play.

SMS is currently used to deliver more than 50% of mobile marketing campaigns because even in our Smartphone age, SMS is still one of the most effective communications methods available.  Online SMS services and inbound SMS could help local authorities reduce costs because it is significantly more economical to send text messages to mobile phones than to call them.

Why is SMS such an effective communications method? Here are some of the reasons why:

  • There are more SIM cards than people in the UK so the potential communication reach is enormous.
  • Migrant residents are more likely to have a mobile phone than a landline.
  • SMS is not reliant on 3G networks – even the most basic handsets support SMS functionality
  • Text messages are delivered almost instantly
  • SMS is a technology that is well understood
  • SMS is very direct and does not rely on users having to follow links to access information

Furthermore, SMS is cheap. Local authorities for example could streamline information services by communicating routine information by SMS because messages can be bought in bulk. Not only that, the majority of mobile phone contracts incorporate free SMS bundles, so it essentially costs consumers nothing to send a reply or to request further information by text.

Online SMS services can be used as an effective communications tool by many different departments. All of them could use SMS to keep in contact with fellow colleagues. SMS is a cost effective and reliant way to make residents aware of changes to scheduled services (refuse collection, for example) due to bad weather. Social workers could save themselves time by confirming appointments by SMS. Housing departments could speed up housing applications by using SMS to contact prospective tenants.

SMS is the preferred communications channel for consumers because it is discrete and they can usually send SMS messages requesting a call back or further information as part of their inclusive texts. SMS could be the return channel for NHS awareness campaigns, to quit smoking, for example.

Equally, residents could use SMS to report incidents of graffiti or vandalism in the community and commuters could use SMS to inform the Highways Agency of accidents. Inbound SMS advice lines could also help deal with incidents relating to racism or bullying.

These types of services can be delivered quickly and cost effectively using our online SMS applications. No training is required, there is no software to download and there are no minimum contracts or hidden costs. In addition our SMS services can be integrated with other existing CRM systems and databases using our developers API.

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