There are several things federal agencies need to think about in the mobile space. Is my website responsive, so that consumers can view it on any device (desktop/laptop, tablet, smartphone)? Do I have mobile apps that fill citizen needs?
But does texting have a place in the U.S. government, as we strive to serve citizens where THEY are?
- Getting consumers to download, install and regularly use mobile applications is a challenge. But getting them to text with the U.S. government might be easier since citizens use texting so much in their personal lives.
- Most consumers have large quota or unlimited texting plans, but should still be informed that charges may apply.
- Texting between businesses and consumers used to require a short code or vanity code. But some companies have found a way to help other companies tie texting in with their regular phone number. 1 (800) FLOWERS for example.
- Consumers are selective about the types of text messages they receive. Some consumers are overwhelmed with email, and they don’t want to be equally overwhelmed with texts.
- Contact center agents who currently handle Web chats, emails and phone calls may need training on how to be even more concise as they answer questions from citizens via text. And how can you convey empathy and caring in even fewer characters?
- If you are going to send push notifications or alerts, make sure citizens can continue to receive service in that channel. For example, a text that lets me know it’s almost time to renew my passport should allow me to click on a link for more information. Where can I renew? Do I have to make an appointment or can I walk in? What times and days is the office open?
- Natural language front end tools can provide automated answers to simple questions, such as “What time is my local Social Security office open until today?”
- Text messages can be used to urge citizens to complete requests for government programs and benefits. For example, if you provide a phone number on the application, a text will remind you to come back and complete your student aid form online.
- The mobile team, the Web team, and the contact center team might not live in the same part of the organization. So it’s very important for these teams to share information about what consumers are asking. Are the questions coming in via text different than the ones coming in via phone, email, Web chat and search?
We know the National Cancer Institute is using texting to help people quit smoking. Consumers sign up, and then receive periodic messages that encourage them as they try to kick the habit. Is your agency using texting to fulfill its mission? If so, how?