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Mobile Matters: Texting Technicians

|  September 30, 2014
Illustration: ©iStock.com/sirup

Many pest management companies are shifting from emailing their mobile staff to texting them because technicians tend to look at texts more frequently. Illustration: ©iStock.com/sirup

Technology for mobile-based businesses continues to progress at light speed. Keeping up with ever-changing methods of communication, mobile apps and mobile-driven software can keep chief mobility officers (CMOs) in a state of constant flux.

No matter your generation, texting has become an increasingly important part of communicating. Many pest management companies are shifting from emailing their mobile staff to texting them because technicians tend to look at texts more frequently. But this begs the question: How can companies be as efficient with texts as many have been with email?

Being part of a text conversation requires knowing the other’s mobile device number. Fortunately, many employees know their coworkers’ cell phone numbers. In fact, studies have shown many more interoffice conversations happen via text compared to email because it’s instantaneous and less formal. But these conversations concern company executives about what details might be falling between the cracks when texts aren’t monitored.

Are texting employees following company communication protocols? Are they ensuring the clients who might be contacted via text are amenable to this way of contact? CMOs are scrambling to ensure they can monitor text communications in and out of their companies as efficiently as email.

Experts predict that by the end of this year texting will surpass emailing as the most common form of communication within the majority of large corporations. The good news is programming gurus have been creating tools to help companies of all sizes better manage texting. Within organizations, apps such as CoTap or Tomfoolery (now Yahoo) are geared toward users who have relationships already. Many new apps also are being developed to help individuals and organizations connect with one another.

Some apps are free; others charge small service fees. The general premise is to assign a text phone number that permits users to join a network for unlimited free texting, which helps companies get around the potential limited number of free messages from their mobile providers. My only warning regarding these apps is to read the fine print carefully. Some apps are wrought with pop-up ads unless you pay for ad-free versions. Know exactly what providers are offering before signing up your company.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the serious issues related to texting and driving. Not only do companies have to ensure they have strict policies forbidding this practice, they also need to be prepared to purchase an approved app to permit drivers to talk-to-text. A few studies have shown there’s little statistical difference in auto accident rates between regular texting and talk-to-text. However, regulators have chosen not to include talk-to-text usage in legislation, which means companies that implement these kinds of apps can be assured they’re not breaking any laws. Of course, company policies about texting and driving need to be signed off on by employees and enforced.

Text messaging is becoming the preferred method of communication between employees and clients. If you want to remain in front of the technology train, consider what systems you’ll put in place to ensure your mobile communications network is effective, secure and safe to use.

You can reach Stanbridge, a PMP and longtime technology columnist, at dean@directlinesales.com.

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