September 24, 2020
With a record high unemployment rate, how can workforce development professionals overcome COVID-19 hurdles to effectively support and secure employment for their workers?
In our webinar, Train by Cell’s Senior Mobile Solutions Consultants Patty Ruland and Christa Mallard share how some of the top workforce development organizations in America — who also happen to be clients — use mobile to alleviate common industry pains associated with COVID-19.
You’ll learn how mobile technology can help with training and getting job seekers back on track to full time employment.
Patty Ruland 0:00 : As I had indicated, my name is Patty Ruland. I am joined by my colleague Christa Mallard today. If you been on any of the webinars I've hosted before, sometimes I'm with Dave Asheim, our CEO. So I'm really excited to do this one today with Christa. She and I are both kind of experts here in the workforce development, solutions type services that we offer. We both kind of enjoy bringing this type of service to organizations to implement mobile. So I'm excited to have Christa to join us. Christa, say hi to everybody. And let's go ahead and get started. So a little bit about Train by Cell. Some people get confused by our name. You might have heard us as Train by Cell, Engage by Cell, or Guide by Cell. They're all just different divisions of our organization. We now go under the umbrella organization name of Engage by Cell. And what we basically do is combine mobile technology with different forms of engagements, education strategies, communication, and so forth. We've been under our original organization Guide by Cell for about 15-16 years. Under the Train by Cell organization for about 10. We serve, we probably have over 4000 clients, that might be a little low, maybe a little higher than that clients, both domestically and internationally. And just to give you an example, these are some of the folks that we work with. I started working with workforce development agencies probably about five and a half years or so ago with Middlesex County. And they kind of started it all. They came to us because they had a need to communicate with program participants. And it just kind of exploded from there. So if you're in attendence and you see your organization up there, again, a shout out to Arnetta. She's with NICOA. I think we have some Goodwill folks on the call as well as some of our workforce development agency boards.
Christa Mallard 2:18 : Okay, well, before we dive in Patty, let's just briefly look at the evolution of mobile in the workplace and do kind of a comparison of email and text messaging. So I mean, you can easily say that email is kind of like an old rotary phone. Essentially, we like to say it's a broken form of communication. So especially whenever it comes to pushing out important information like updates, or news or alerts, that type of communication email, especially when it comes from like a MailChimp platform or like a CRM, it has a low response rate and a low open rates. So if you kind of compare that with text messaging, from the center perspective, it's really easy and quick to send. And then from the recipient, it's super clear, simple, easy to read and to digest communication. And it's also something we know, socially, that we're reading our text messages instantly. Um, it also has the added benefit of having voluntary opt ins. So if a user wants to receive information that's valuable, they can self-enroll. So that leads to a higher open rate.
Patty Ruland 3:42 : Absolutely. Yeah. As far as, you know, mobile in the workplace.
Christa Mallard 3:49 : Uh, yeah. So let's take a look at these statistics that kind of backs up on what I just said, in the workplace, really, across all industries, not not just necessarily workforce, we're seeing the email open rates are average around 20 to 30%. So you compare that with text message, open rates, which average from like, 90%, and up, and it text messages, those are read within two minutes. So I mean, that kind of guarantees that your reader is going to not only open the message, but I mean, they're going to read it pretty much instantly.
Patty Ruland 4:32 : Yeah, we talked about that on yesterday's webinar. It used to be texting used to be for your friends and your family. But it's become the preferred method of communication. I think in our webinar yesterday, we have a statistic that over 50% of employees would prefer, especially during these times, to receive a quick text message, as opposed to an email for information that they need.
Christa Mallard 4:55 : Oh, absolutely. I think we're all inundated with so many emails. It just makes sense that texting would be used for that workplace communication.
Patty Ruland 5:03 : Yeah. So let's go ahead and talk about the two technologies that we offer. We offer a dual platform, one for text messaging. And we offer what's called a two way text messaging platform. So there's lots of services out there that just basically allow you to push out a message to a list of people. With our platform, not only can you do that, you can also receive messages back. So maybe you push out something about a hiring event or a new program that's in place. If somebody has a question, they're able to reply to it, it goes into our platform, and so forth. So that kind of differentiates us from some of the other services out there. So we offer the text messaging platform, and then what we offer is a mobile web component, or we'll call it a web app or an authoring platform. This is a great compliment to the text messaging platform, because you can include links to specific information, you can curate content that people need readily available, and put it all in one nice, neat little package, which is known as their cell phone. So like I said, the combination of the two is really a powerful tool. And so Christa, did you want to talk about how to increase engagement?
Christa Mallard 6:35 : Absolutely. Um, so we'll coach you. We know a lot of the best practices. I Those pretty much say that whenever you push the engagement or text message, those job seekers are going to click that link, and then follow that text to receive that information. It's a really easy way to send out resources, tips, links that you host either in the mobile web app that Patty mentioned, or even external links on your website, so that text message kind of drives them to that important information. And then kind of like I said earlier, I mean, keep things clear, concise, and it allows job seekers to engage on their cell phones. I think we all know that a lot of these job seekers don't necessarily have access to email or computer. But they're able to engage on their cell phones, which almost everybody does have constant access to. And then again, the last point is providing that content at their fingertips with that mobile website. So it's a really great way to, you know, keep people engaged. And provide those resources like job alerts, and, you know, hiring event information.
Patty Ruland 8:08 : Let's go ahead and move to the next slide. So, um, our text messaging platform, obviously, as Christa mentioned earlier, has amazing benefits. Text message open rates are above 90%, email open rates are falling fast. It's about communicating with people more easily more instantly. The ability to schedule messages in advance to push out messages or push out links to different types of content, and to have people receive different types of information. This has become so imperative in the time of COVID. People are not coming into physical locations. Appointments are difficult to keep. You have people who are searching for jobs while they're trying to homeschool their children and the bandwidth of computers or laptops in the home is not readily available. We found that our clients who have been using our service were really prepared for this prior to the shutdown and things like that. You want to go ahead and advance to the next slide. This is one of our workforce development clients. Like I mentioned, Kevin at Middlesex County's Workforce Development Director there. You know, he was, because they had been using our service in the past or continuing to use it, he had really no problems. He was able to push out changes, alerts, reminders, where his colleagues in different organizations were struggling. The phones were ringing off the hook, people couldn't get the information that they needed and so forth. So by being able to push out the text message, give them updates for resources to COVID, information about testing sites and so forth, was really beneficial to them. They didn't struggle as much as some organizations did when the outbreak first started.
Christa Mallard 10:15 : Yeah, no, I think there's a lot to be said about being proactive versus being reactive. So it definitely gave them that advantage.
Patty Ruland 10:23 : Exactly. Because you want a little bit more about the, the mobile web or the mobile app, as we call it.
Christa Mallard 10:29 : Sure. So like Patty mentioned the mobile web, it kind of goes by a lot of different names, essentially, the way the user sees it as a mobile app. So it's a really great resource. The benefits are that it kind of serves as one place to store all your top content. It's really accessible from the user standpoint, because it's delivered through a text message, they don't have to download anything, they don't have to go to the App Store and download anything, and then on the admin side of things, you know, it's easy to manage, you don't have to have any IT skills. The benefit in the mobile web platform versus housing everything on your website would be that you can change that content on the fly. So you don't have to bother anybody down in your IT department to get an update on the job postings or, you know, any sort of like new information, you can do it all yours.
Patty Ruland 11:39 : Yeah, and, you know, I mean, that's something that's, that's really important, being able to make changes, as things are occurring or happening. Oftentimes, you know, we you can't prepare for things. So being able to change content, and, you know, letting people know about changes, cancellations of events, or new programs that are available, or you know, different resource guides, and so forth. Most IT departments don't have the bandwidth to do that. Also, sometimes it's hard for a program participant to weed through a website to find the information they need. Development agencies, you know, you're basically going through a county website that has information about, you know, property tax, and upcoming events, and all this stuff to find the information that you really need as a job seeker or program participant is often difficult.
Christa Mallard 12:39 : Yeah, absolutely.
Patty Ruland 12:40 : So again, some of the benefits are having greater accessibility. We talked about physical locations being closed, still being able to reach participants, people wanting to still be engaged. Nobody wants to really be slowed down by what's been going on, they want to continue in their job search or they're retraining or there are certification programs and things like that. One of the other great tools that you can do with the service is track people once they've gotten a job. So oftentimes people will, you know, goes through programs and so forth. And then all of a sudden, they kind of disappear. You don't hear from them anymore. Well, chances are they maybe they've found employment. You can send out, you know, a monthly text message to your user list saying, "Hey, have you found a job yet?" and they reply to that text and complete a simple little form. That way, you're able to track the progress. You know, most organizations do get funding based upon, you know, getting people into positions. So being able to show that is really helpful. And then again, communicating after somebody has, you know, become employed. We have one organization that they wanted to remove people from their texting list who have been employed, and working, but they still want to get the text messages because one, they don't know the stability of their job then, but or two, they're constantly referring their family and friends to it, you know, hey, this job just came across, you know, you might be interested in. So we find that once people opt in, they want to keep that flow of information coming to them.
So let's talk quickly about some of the use cases. So Christa you want to talk about hiring events and reminders and so forth?
Christa Mallard 14:49 : Yeah, absolutely. So the text messaging platform is a really great way to push out updates and alerts geared towards hiring events, whether they're virtual or in person. So, if a job seeker wants to receive that communication we kind of talked earlier about, they have the ability to self enroll. So they could text in a key word to our shortcode, which is 56512. And they're automatically put on that list to receive those updates. Another really great benefit that a lot of our workforce agencies like to use is the ability to add a second word up to that first word. So you could add, you know, if the key word is ABC, you could add the word "EVENTS", and people could receive information on those hiring events, or if they wanted tips for resume building, you know, you could add on a second word, and then that way people are enrolling to receive the information that is important and valuable to them. And then you also have the ability with the texting platform, if there are specific job openings, Patty was talking about Middlesex County sending out text messages whenever we were really early in the pandemic, I mean, they were sending out regular openings on a daily basis. UPS is hiring at this this wage, just tap the link, and you can include a URL that either takes them directly to a job opening that is housed on your website, or one that you house on the mobile app. So there's a lot of flexibility, and you can really deliver that important information with texting.
Patty Ruland 16:46 : Yeah, and you had mentioned secondary keywords. I'm just gonna give a shout out again, to our folks at NICOA. They actually used a secondary keyword, which is CSAP for their senior program.
All of the NICOA members can text in and access information. They know that they can use a secondary keyword, and they can go right to all their senior program information and qualification process and so forth. So there's so many different ways to use secondary keywords to have people get information that's useful to them.
Christa Mallard 17:26 : Yeah, absolutely.
Patty Ruland 17:28 : One of the other things that we offer is, and I mentioned it earlier, is the ability to do a two-way chat. So I can push out a text message to 50 people on a list. But if one of them has a question, they can text back into me. Christa, why don't you talk about how this would work for like job counselors and so forth?
Christa Mallard 17:50 : Yeah, and I think this is a really great use case for this two way communication is with the job counselors. And every job counselor has the ability to have their own communication list. So they can push out like a bulk email to all 20 or 100 people that they work with. And then those job seekers have the ability to respond back and they can carry on a one-on-one conversation, and then all of that those conversations, it's documented in the Reports section of the platform. So you can export it when with an Excel or CSV file. And then you know, everything that you need showing that the person responded to the text message or the communication, it's all time stamped. And you know, you can upload it to any like CRM that you have. Another benefit, I know that a lot of these counselors, they do not want them using their personal cell phones for this type of communication. And so all of this, you know, this communication, it all lives in our online platform. So you don't have to use your personal cell phone, you can just hop on the platform and manage that communication that way.
Patty Ruland 19:09 : Yeah, that's probably one of the biggest attributes is you don't have to use your personal device. I mean, personally, everybody in the world has my cell phone number. But I'm okay with that. But some people are uncomfortable using their personal cell phone number pushing it out to people with messaging and so forth. So it's an extra layer of privacy that you know, people are concerned with that we address. So, I have a client and I'll let Christa to talk about this. Tips and encouragement. I have a client of mine that does a daily, weekly or monthly text message so their employees opt in to receive whether they want it daily, weekly or monthly. A little message gets sent out to them. It's usually something motivational or positive during COVID. You know, it's been a lot of, "Are you feeling stressed? Here's this breathing exercise." Some of them are funny little GIFs or jokes, just things to encourage people and enlighten them and make them feel a little better. But it's great for pushing out resume writing tips or, or different types of encouragement. So Christa, do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Christa Mallard 20:31 : Yeah. And I love that example that you gave Patty about, you know, the motivational tips or how are you feeling, I just think that's a really great way to add that personal touch and keep people engaged, keep them motivated, during, you know, the stressful time. Um, you can also, like you said, use this to push out links to maybe like, if you posted a really great webinar, or podcast, you can include a link to that type of information. It can be any sort of video, maybe that's on YouTube, that gives great interviewing tips. Or it can be to documents. Really, it's, it's limitless. But I love using this to push out those daily reminders and advice to continue to keep everybody engaged.
Patty Ruland 21:25 : Like you said, it could just be a straight text, or it can link to some other content. An example of one of our mobile web platforms from one of our clients. We do work with, like I mentioned, many Goodwill organizations, it works as a great repository for all types of information for job seekers and for community resources. Knowing what resources or agencies are available in your area, again, especially during the pandemic, when people are looking for food banks that they can go to or to see if they can get a child care. So you can house all types of resources. There isn't necessarily specifically training or job seeking tips, and so forth. And it's up to the organization as to what type of information they want to put there. Again, super easy to access. And I think we mentioned it earlier, participants will simply either text in a keyword to a shortcode to access all the content, or they could scan a QR code. QR codes are making a bit of a comeback. So we've seen a lot of activity with people scanning QR codes to access information.
Christa Mallard 22:41 : Yeah, and I do want to point out Patty, just to kind of piggyback on that, that because this is all mobile based, this information can be accessed on a computer or a tablet. So it doesn't just have to be on the phone. So it can be accessed in multiple ways.
Patty Ruland 23:00 : Absolutely. I think one of the things that people have asked us about in the past, if we want to just advance the slide, is what kind of information can we get from the person, so depending upon what program they've qualified for, or if they have to turn in paystubs, or if they have to turn in some type of paperwork, we have the ability for the candidate or participant to snap a photo of a document and upload it into the system. It goes into your reporting session, it's secure, only the organization has access to it. So that's really been a game changer, since the pandemic where people can bring in something to their counselor or go into the office and drop off a piece of paper or a signed pay stub or something like that. So that's one of the newer features we've added recently. And it's really been helpful. Yeah. So Christa want to show everybody how they can see an example?
Christa Mallard 24:14 : Yeah, so we have a great example that's built out. It shows how the text messages are delivered, and then also gives you a sneak peek of what your mobile app could look like. So if you all want to see an example of that, you can just grab your cell phone, and you can text the word "demo workforce" to 56512. Um, you know, no one's gonna call you after words, based off of you opting in to the text message. It's just a really great way to kind of see a more in depth peek at what we're talking about.
And whenever you opt in, you should receive an automatic text message response. You on the admin side can completely customize that.
Yeah, the little link you can tap and it goes to that mobile app.
Patty Ruland 25:31 : Here's an example of what you should see. Yeah. Excellent. I'm gonna take a sneak peek at the chat window. And why don't you folks type in any questions you might have for Christa or myself.
Christa Mallard 25:53 : So I see Joanne is asking how the lists are managed? Patty, do you want to speak to that just for a quick moment?
Patty Ruland 26:02 : Yes. So if people have opted in, or they've given permission for you to text to them, you can upload a list into the system. Our platform allows you to have as many lists as you want. And you can break those up however you want. You could have lists of people who are interested in administrative positions, or construction work or interested in working for FedEx or UPS. And then you can create your text message and select which lists you want to send that out to. As Christa mentioned earlier, individual counselors could have their own list of participants and they could text out to them. People can kind of auto-enroll in information they want by using the secondary keyword. For example, I'm going to text in "WORK TEMP". So I'm interested in temporary positions. So there's different ways that you can create your lists and then push your messaging out, based upon who should be receiving it.
Christa Mallard 27:08 : Yeah, and Patty, I'm seeing a lot of other questions that kind of go hand in hand with that, that I kind of want to address. Um, so our software, it's all cloud based, meaning that you would just go to our website and log in, and you can have an unlimited number of administrators that you can set up with different security rights. So essentially, you know, any of your job counselors could go online to the platform, log in, and then manage the list that way. And then as far as the text messaging, Jillian also asked about the platform. This is the custom platform that we've got engineers in-house who have custom built this. So we're constantly doing engineering updates. So hopefully, that answers that. If you want to see a look at the back-end, because it's looking like a lot of these questions have to deal with more technical aspects, we would be happy to do like a one-on-one screen share, and do a demo with you and kind of walk you through the administrative standpoint, and then also the user standpoint.
Patty Ruland 28:22 : If you are interested in seeing a demo of our services, throw your name and email address into the chat window. I just noticed Victor had a question. "Did I understand that staff do not have to use their own phones, that full functionality are available from a web platform?" Absolutely. Everything is done through our back-end of our platform. You can get a notification via email or phone if someone were to reply back or something like that. But everything is done through our administrative platform, so they do not have to use their personal phones.
"What platform do you use to deploy texts?" So we have our own short code that we use. So we give you access to the short code, and then primary keywords and secondary keywords. And let's see what else. "How our lists managed?". Looks like some folks are indicating that they'd like some additional information. What is the pricing based on? So it's kind of done individually, and what we do is what we'll have you do is work with one of our consultants as to a package that's going to work best for you. Some folks just want the text messaging component. Some folks want the full package with text messaging and the mobile website to curate content is based upon a couple of different things. How many text messages you're planning on sending, and so forth. So you can work with one of our solution consultants and get a little more detail as to what the pricing would be. We have some clients that will send 10,000 text messages a year, we have other clients that will do close to a million texts a year depending upon how large their region is, how frequently they text things out. You know, I hate to keep going back to Middlesex, but they're one of our biggest texters. I'm opted in for their list, I get their messages, I receive a message from them probably every other day or so. But I'm on all their lists. So again, you could be sending 100,000 texts, 200,000 texts, it's completely up to what your needs are. And the pricing is based upon that. Right.
Christa Mallard 30:50 : So and I think I mean, we, if anybody else has any other questions, I encourage you to drop them in the chat window. Otherwise ike I said, we'd be happy to set up one on one calls and go over the specifics for your organization and talk about the best solutions.
Patty Ruland 31:09 : Yeah, we'll stay on the line for another minute or so if we have any last minute questions. "I like that we can send links of job postings to job seekers." Yeah, it's absolutely, you know, imperative to be able to communicate with them quickly. Again, because positions are being filled quickly. If you're an organization that's hiring, you want that position filled as quickly as possible. If you as a workforce development agency, send out an email to people, you know, chances are, by the time they get around to reading that email, that opportunity is going to be long gone. I mean, you know, we we live in a fast paced world nowadays. So being able to effectively and efficiently get that information to the people who need it is really imperative. So thanks for your questions. Again, if you're interested in seeing a demo of our services, throw your email name and email in the chat window. This has been recorded, they'll do what they do in the magic of editing. And it should be sent out to you emailed out probably by tomorrow morning, with the slides as well as the audio. But if nobody has any other questions again, I just want to take a moment to thank you. We know that you know you're all busy right now with a million things going on. So for you all to be able to take, you know 30 minutes out of your day to listen to, you know different ways to incorporate mobile for your organization. We appreciate it. On behalf of myself, the Engage by Cell family, Christa Mallard. We appreciate you joining us today and you have a great day.
Christa Mallard 33:00 : Thanks everyone.