Most of us have received an SMS from our dentist or hairdresser to confirm an appointment, but with bushfires, a freak storm and COVID-19 all in the first six months of 2020, bulk SMS went from a ‘like to have’ to a critical alert system for YMCA Canberra. 

Before natural disasters and Coronavirus were part of our vernacular, Deloitte Access Economics (Mobile Nation 2019) had identified the importance of mobiles to the Australian community. In 2019, they found 94% of Australians did not leave home without their mobile and 71% of us felt safer with our mobile. Adding to that, many businesses consistently collect mobile phone contact details for emergencies, so bulk SMS platforms are very powerful tools during a crisis.

YMCA Canberra, The Y, was not new to SMS communication, but prior to 2020 their communication via SMS was on a service by service basis. In its 75+ year history, the organisation had never had to, and so suddenly, close services en masse. Normally an email and SMS to a specific service was sufficient notice for clients and families that use their diverse services. These include childcare, before and after school care, vacation programs, accommodation, op shop, sporting clubs, equipment hire, gym and fitness classes. But if you just happened to have been hiding under a rock since January, ‘unprecedented’ times requires unprecedented solutions.

YMCA Canberra’s solution came in the form of Statuspage, developed by one of Australia’s most successful exports, Atlassian, the software development giant also responsible for the creation of Trello (for another blog post but if you haven’t played with Trello you need to!). Without a centralised customer relationship management (CRM) system across their diverse services, Statuspage provided a platform to create and distribute SMS and email alerts to the entire Y community so that critical communication and shutdowns went to all clients at exactly the same time. This minimised confusion, ensured clients and their families were safe and not inconvenienced by showing up to services that were closed due to air quality concerns in January.

As air quality returned to normal in Canberra, it was a surprise to all of us that the system would be needed again and again this year.  It continued to be invaluable following the freak storm that caused flooding at the Jamieson Early Learning Centre in late January, and more recently to manage critical communications about the closure of non-essential Y services due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Unlike many bulk SMS platforms Threesides researched, Statuspage, as its name suggests, provides a status page as the core element of their incident reporting. Each SMS can be short and to the point because it provides a link to a web page with real-time status information. This means people can monitor updates in their own time and manage subscription to the system if they prefer to opt out of SMS or email alerts.

Like to know more about Statuspage or SMS marketing? Don’t hesitate to contact us.

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