Your company or organization just invested in a new, state-of-the-art Emergency Notification System. You worked with your vendor to set it up and are feeling good about the time and resources you put into this very important project. Moving forward, should any type of emergency arise, all who need to know will be notified in seconds and they will know how to respond to the message, right?
Possibly, but in order to make sure the new system does what you want and expect it to do, you need to test it. So where do you start?
After the system is set up and enabled, it is a good idea to test it to a small subset of your audience. You can start with testing to the team that worked on the new system, but eventually testing to a small group that is representative of your total audience (members of different departments, people in different office buildings, customers in different areas) will allow you to see the system in action on a more realistic level.
Once the system runs clean to your small group, it’s time to test it for everyone. This is very important. We know you don’t want to be an inconvenience to users, but every system needs to be thoroughly tested with all users and all methods (voice, email, SMS). You need to find out if there are any holes in the system during a test, and not wait to find out during a real emergency. Everyone and endpoint should be tested.
Some of the top things that you should be testing for include:
With every test of your system, run it through all the channels you plan on utilizing in a real emergency, including email, phone calls, texts and push notifications.
Ideally, when you test your new Emergency Notification System you would do so under the most realistic circumstances possible. Don’t give anyone a head’s up that it is coming. Don’t wait for a day or time that you think is most convenient to your users. Just go ahead and test the system. But we understand that some organizations may not be able to test the system in this manner.
Many organizations will give users a head’s up that at some point in the future the new Emergency Notification System will be getting a test run, but they do not specify a time or date. This type of massage can be useful because it can include important information, including:
A warning message like this will also get users talking about the system, and if, after a while, they do not receive an emergency message, they will let you know. This can help bring holes within the system (i.e., rooms in the building where WiFi does not reach – so emergency notices do not get to any users there) to your attention.
It’s important to keep in mind that if there are any hiccups with your Emergency Notification System, they are most likely to be uncovered when testing is done as if there is a real emergency (i.e., unannounced, to all users), or during an actual emergency. That is why even the person kicking off the notification should be surprised and given only a few minutes to start the process. This uncovers delays and improvement areas, such as if the person has the login information readily available, or if she has to go find it.
Mass Notifications & Alerts
Custom-designed notification systems communicate urgent messages across all channels, to any number of people.
To make sure you learn the most about your new system, test it at an unexpected time. The less obvious the time is, the more likely users will be involved in normal situations, which will provide the best feedback for how effective the system is set up.
One caveat: we do not recommend testing a non-emergency system at inconvenient times for customers. For example, if you are testing the system to your customer base, don’t have texts or phone calls go out at times when they are sleeping or on holidays. They will definitely not appreciate being interrupted.
When testing your system, users definitely need to know that what they are receiving is a test. That should be obvious from the moment the message starts (whether with a headline that reads “THIS IS ONLY A TEST” or a voice recording that states the same).
But the message should also contain information that is as close to what a real-life emergency message would have. By doing this you can check to see how the message actually is received by users (i.e., if the messages are being truncated into multiple messages). You also want to test responses, as well as texts to people in every part of the building, different buildings, or different cities.
It’s a good idea to use a system that allows people to acknowledge the system. This way you can collect data on how people are using it (i.e., who is receiving messages, how quickly are they responding).
The last bit of advice for those tasked with setting up and managing an Emergency Notification System – make sure your new system has an emergency ‘STOP’ on it. You want to have the ability to cease an outbound campaign immediately for any reason. This could be that the wrong message was sent, the emergency has ended, or that it was going to the wrong users.
Is it time for your organization to update its Emergency Notification System? Have questions regarding what may be the best system for you? Give DiRAD a call. We’re happy to walk you through how today’s technology can be an important part of your organization’s entire emergency plan.
Publish Date: April 29, 2021 3:51 PM
miSecureMessages is an encrypted messaging application designed as a pager replacement for healthcare organizations, call centers, and enterprise environments.
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Startel is a leading provider of unified communications, business process automation and performance management solutions for contact centers. Since its founding in 1980, Startel has established a loyal customer base from a variety of industries, including contact centers, education, healthcare, insurance and telephone answering service. Startel's solutions are designed to enhance the customer experience, improve employee productivity, reduce operating costs, and increase revenues.
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