Thursday, April 15, 2010

Text Alerts – The Right Stuff

I was packing lunch for my son this morning when I received an unexpected text-message (not many people text me at 8am).

“Your auto policy is scheduled to be cancelled...”. It was from Progressive Direct, my insurance provider.

Hmmm...I thought I paid that. I went online and soon found that I had forgotten to pay the increased premium after adding a new vehicle to the policy. The policy would be canceled in 5 days if payment was not made. With a click of button I took care of it.

Progressive had sent email and letters to remind me, but with the ever increasing volume of both junk email and post, these communications fell through the cracks. But my text-message alert “safety net” saved the day.

I don't want to receive text-message alerts with news, weather, horoscopes, etc.*(see exception below). This information I get through other channels, and those channels are flooded with information every waking hour, so I do want text alerts when something important and time-sensitive requires action.

Instead of using text-messaging for mission critical alerts a lot of companies have resorted to the robo-callers. I get these calls sometimes, but they don't register in the same way. I'm not sure about you, but I only answer calls from unknown phone numbers when I'm in for a little grab-bag distraction. Sometimes these robots leave messages, sometimes they don't. It never seems really important.

For full disclosure, I originally signed up for text alerts from Progressive a few months ago when I wanted to test their system. Unwired Appeal provides the text-messaging infrastructure and database management for their service and I wanted to see how it worked.

This morning I found out.

-Steve Nye

*the one exception is surfing alerts - 365 days a year I want to know when there are triple overheads at Good Harbor Beach - now that's an actionable alert.