While it may seem straightforward, the issue of opt-in and opt-out in Employee Notification System or Mass Notification System applications can be a tricky one.
First, there is the basic issue of including opt-out information on every outbound text, as good practice usually dictates. In the real world, the recipient should have already received opt-out instructions and sometimes that precious character space in the limited SMS world could be used for the urgent message.
This begs a solution that should include an opt-in or some other on-boarding process for employees, students, residents, or other group that includes clear communications about what types of message they will receive and how to opt out. With our broad base of AMG Alerts customers, we have seen many instances where this might not be happening. Rather than using the external portals that we provide, which provide these instructions (as well as, obviously, the “opt-in”), our customer is uploading data that may not be current, and worse, the use of the system my be different than what might have been specifically “contracted for” by the recipient, as ownership of the alerts program has changed.
We counter this by being up front with our identity on all messages, regardless of mode, as the mass notification system provider and we make sure our customers do the same in terms of their identities. This way, a recipient always has somewhere to go even if they do not follow one of the opt-out processes that we provide.
In fact, our system is “email-based” to a large degree, meaning that we get emails for most people regardless of the mode used for alerts. This is so that our system can be used, by our customer, outside the normal process to directly ASK recipients if they still want to be included in the program and provide an opt-out link. This functionality is handy when the database has been allowed to get “stale” and/or the purpose of the system has changed.
At the end of the day, we have to be ultra-sensitive to SMS “spam” concerns because as bad as e-mail is, at least we have tools to fight it. People see unwanted SMS messages as a real violation, so we always encourage our customers to only upload and use SMS information if they have recent permission for it to be used with their purpose in mind and communicate that it’s coming. Otherwise, use the opt-in/modification portals so that the recipient has control initially and on an ongoing basis.