There are two general types of SMS (text) services used by public bodies:
State times that SMS service is available. Where direct text communication is available, clearly state the times that this service is available; for example, between 9.00am and 6.00pm.
Other than in specific contexts, ‘text speak’ language should not be used. Use plain English.
Keep sentences short.
This will assist members of the public in recognising the number.
If a reply is expected, include a prompt in the SMS such as “Please reply”.
Where immediate response is not intended, send an automatic reply to each SMS received to acknowledge it and provide further information, for example, “Thank you for your enquiry. We will be in contact with you shortly”.
For example, “Do you wish to make an appointment for 2.00pm on the 12 July? ”
Alternatively use options to obtain information. For example, “Sorry do you mean 1 - you wish to make an appointment for 2.00pm on the 12 July? 2 - you wish to cancel your appointment or 3 - do you want to make a new appointment? Please reply with 1,2 or 3.”
If no reply is received after 30 minutes, contact the person again using the previous message and adding a time that you expect a reply by. For example, “Sorry Mrs Smith, do you mean 1 - you wish to make an appointment for 2.00pm on the 12 July? 2 - you wish to cancel your appointment or 3 - you want to make a new appointment? Please reply with 1, 2 or 3 before 6.0 0pm”.
If no further response is received – close the conversation.
When you have finished the conversation, always end the SMS with a closing phrase. For example, “No need to reply”.
SMS texts should not include or seek confidential information. For example, bank account numbers.
SMS Based Communication Checklist