Continuing the SMS Design Standards...
One Way Messaging
User agrees to let the company send them messages, typically based on some parameter the user has chosen.
Number of Messages
The user should be able to determine how many messages a day they receive from the company. You might want to set some expectation of how many messages will be sent per day, week, or month. (MMA: CCS-09, Mobile Marketing Association Guidelines, 2009)
Two Way Messaging
User sends a request to the system and the system replies with a response. Messages are both received from and sent to members, creating interactivity and a conversation between the user and the company. The best SMS applications promote this interactive experience.
160 Characters or less for English language.
Recommendation: Take advantage of short hand when ever necessary, but remain professional. Some media and entertainment sites can get away with using 2 for to, too or two; but most businesses can’t. Other short hands are universally acceptable though. (example SMS syntax will be covered in the full paper, contact me if you would like a copy)
Create a text message glossary specifically for your company that complies with your corporate branding tone of voice.
Longer SMS Messages
Sometimes 160 characters are not enough. If you know the message is going to be multiple messages than number your messages. (1/3): really long message…., (2/3): continuation of really long message…, (3/3): final message. You can’t control the order that users will receive these messages – so they MUST be numbered in a human readable format. Also use a convention at the end of every message, like ellipses (…) to communicate that more messages are coming.
Synchronizing Communication Channels
The most frequent channels used while mobile are phone, IVR, and SMS. Mobile web is starting to be more common but has not become main stream yet. Many companies have tried to create a consistent interaction with users across all channels but specifically focused on Phone, IVR and SMS.
User Privacy and Protection
You need to let the user know:
- They could end up being charged for something. You need to communicate if standard or premium rates apply.
- They can opt-out or stop receiving messages at any time. You need to provide easy ways for people to stop receiving messages and you need to communicate this frequently.
- Their personal information could be at risk. You need to be clear about how secure the information channel is or is not.
- The message has to be clear enough to prevent user confusion or misinterpretation.
- That SMS is not a guaranteed communication channel and that message delivery can not be guaranteed.
Always seek legal counsel to ensure that you comply with user privacy and protection laws. (MMA: CCS-07)
All companies must comply with FCC/FTC regulations and must consider how they could harm the user of the service.
The Healthcare industry must comply with those above while also following additional privacy rules per HIPAA | Title II | Privacy Rule for Protected Health Information (PHI). Each Healthcare industry needs to determine which, if any Personal Health Information (PHI) elements have been deemed acceptable to share via the SMS channel. Some companies have deemed that some words are ok to use; like surgery, appointment, No food or drink after Midnight, etc; but they don’t include the surgery or appointment type. They direct members to the web channel to see their personal health details.
Authentication Methods will be covered next time.