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When to Use Audio Calling for Critical Alert Systems

This article was updated on July 13, 2021

SMS messaging is a popular communication method with all demographics. Because today’s consumers expect in-time messaging, they typically prefer native SMS messaging and other dedicated mobile messaging platforms to most other forms of communication. But despite its popularity, SMS messaging is not always an appropriate means of communicating.

For example, individuals can easily ignore an SMS message or push notification from an organization, posing a significant problem if the organization requires the immediate attention of its customers or employees. When organizations relay urgent information, voice-based critical alert systems can be a necessity. These kinds of alerts require organizations to take a different approach to communication to ensure employees and clients listen to these critical messages.

Choosing the Right Critical Alert Method

Organizations may find that some critical alerts are better suited for voice communication rather than SMS, especially in situations that require more detailed explanations or directions. SMS alerts are excellent tools for two-factor authentication, fraud protection notice, and passwordless authentication, but when organizations need to send urgent communications, SMS alerts might not cut it.

Alert fatigue is increasingly affecting clients, consumers, and organizations across professions. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, for example, reports that academic hospitals are producing more than 2 million alerts per month, causing patients and professionals to quickly become tired of notifications and start to ignore urgent communications. Not all messaging alerts come from sources as serious as medical fields, though, and alert fatigue is prominent in other areas as well; constant update reminders, email alerts, and app reminders are easy to ignore, especially since so many installed apps send frequent push notifications in an effort to stay relevant to the user.

Determining which alerts should be sent through text- or audio-based calls will depend on both the organization’s current customer preference and the urgency of the message. An organization can determine urgency by calculating the amount of damage a delayed response would cause, and they can use that information in tandem with an analysis of current customers’ most-used communication methods to understand how consumers are interacting with the organization.

Consider the banking industry. Consumers expect to have ready access to account information and detailed transaction reports, as well as real-time or just-in-time fraud detection notifications. Alerts for very large, account-draining, or suspicious purchases warrant a phone call to give the customer the opportunity to prevent a fraudulent payment. When typical interactions move through digital channels, a phone call stands out among the frequent chirps and chimes.

A Multi-Pronged Approach to Critical Alert Systems

Selecting one method over another exclusively may not be the best solution for your organization, so consider a multi-pronged approach to critical alerts. Organizations using critical alert systems for emergency notification, for example, typically send both an SMS message and a voice call to follow up with additional information—they may even push the same notification across multiple preferred phone numbers. These critical alert systems are used in municipalities in particular, and they can provide in-time notification of inclement natural weather events such as tornadoes, lava flows, hurricanes, or flash flooding. Disaster notifications have evolved to provide concise information in multiple formats in order to reach the largest portion of an affected population. Many reach users through a combined effort of SMS, email, phone, and social media platforms.

Sometimes the best way to incorporate a multi-pronged approach is to leverage existing systems. A voice API can be integrated into existing systems to deliver critical alerts in real time, and automated calls can deliver concise information to affected users. Voice calls provide an added layer of notification and assistance not available through an SMS message. Sending calls into the abyss isn’t very helpful in determining the portion of a user base that has heard the news, but a platform that supports receipt confirmation can instruct call recipients to provide confirmation of their safety or give an opportunity to request help. Those requesting help can even be routed to a live operator—something that wouldn’t be as easy to do through an SMS message.

Selecting the appropriate delivery of your message will largely depend on your current customer’s preferences. While text-based messaging tends to be a preferred method of communication, voice alerts are still important tools for notifying affected users in a timely manner. Considering the limitations of text-based messaging, providing additional information over the phone can help speed resolution. Automated responses and call routing can allow users to connect with the appropriate resolution department based on current needs, and many advanced voice call services can be combined with outgoing audio to give organizations the flexibility of connecting with users to provide urgent information.

Vonage staff

Vonage staff


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