Use of Text Messaging Services

Use of Text Messaging Services

Sponsor:

Associate Vice President for Enrollment Marketing

Contact:

CRM Operations Manager

Category:

Information Security and Technology

Number:

1000.013

Effective Date:

09/01/2022

Implementation History:

First draft 7/1/2021

Keywords:

Text, Mobile Phone, SMS, Short Code, Long Code

Background Information:

SUNY Empire’s current communication strategy, as stated in our policy for Broadcast Email to Students,1000.001, dated October 17, 2006, outlines traditional forms of communications with our prospective and current students. Those traditional communication means are identified as email, mail and phone. These traditional channels have been used exhaustively and will remain SUNY Empire’s primary channels. However, our prospective and current students are asking for another means to receive information, specifically, SMS/text messages.

New communication tools, such as SMS/text messages, have emerged as being an effective communication channel if integrated properly into an organization’s overall communication strategy and adhere to state, federal, and vendor regulations pertaining SMS/text messages. Using SMS/text messages as a communication channel provides another means to elevate and “bring attention to” specific time-sensitive information, such as upcoming deadlines and/or other information that might otherwise get lost in traditional channels. Additionally, integrating SMS/text messages provides the organization an opportunity to reimagine traditional communication channels, such as email, honing and enhancing messaging that necessitates detailed information that might not necessarily require immediate action.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish how SUNY Empire will leverage SMS/text messages to communicate and distribute information to prospective and current students that complies with internal and external regulations and policies; aligns with the institution’s marketing strategy and brand recognition and values; and supports and establishes requirements and institution-wide coordination and cooperation to prevent misuse and overuse of SMS/text messages.

SUNY Empire will send SMS/text messages to individuals relating to approved-use cases documented on SUNY Empire’s approved short-code application. (See appendices for SUNY Empire’s approved short-code application use cases.) SMS/text messages will be used as a supplemental means of communication rather than as a primary communication tool.

This policy will respect and maintain individuals’ rights and privacy, while maximizing efficiency and effectiveness in communicating messages that align with SUNY Empire’s overall mission to prospects and students.

Definitions

  • AUTHPERS: SUNY Empire employee who has access to the short code or has an assigned long code & has access to the designated CRM application(s).
  • NON-AUTHPERS: SUNY Empire employee who does not have access to the short code and does not have an assigned long code.
  • Individual: prospect, applicant, student
  • Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA): represents the U.S. wireless communications industry and companies throughout the mobile ecosystem.
  • TCPA: Telephone Consumer Protection Act 47 U.S.C. § 227
  • FCC: Federal Communication Commission rules 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200
  • Service providers: wireless communication companies
  • Master SMS/text message Contact Calendar: Electronic Calendar Documenting the Launch of Bulk Text Messages Coming from Short Codes
  • Contact Center Compliance: informs Master SMS/text message contact calendar as to blackout dates for SMS/text messages.
  • Single Message: one-time short code program message
  • Reoccurring message: more than 1 short code program message
  • SMS: Short Message Service (SMS) & Text Messages (texting) are the same thing. It is a means of sending short messages to and from mobile phones or through a platform such as customer relationship management (CRM) application.
  • Short code application: short codes are regulated by carriers, so specific information on potential use cases is required for approval of a short code to ensure compliance with regulations.
  • Short code: A special 5- or 6-digit telephone number that is shorter than a full phone number. Short codes are used for bulk messages and specific to a program. Messages are sent 100 messages per second (MPS). Short codes are considered as messages sent from application-to-person (AP2-BULK messages).
  • Short code program: program to which an individual opt-in to. SUNY Empire will have 2 short code programs, one for OAA and one for OEM.
  • Long code/text messages (10DLC): A Standard phone number used to send and receive messages. Phone numbers are typically called “long codes” (10-digit numbers in many countries) when comparing them with SMS short codes (5-6-digit numbers). Messages are sent at 10 messages per second (MPS). Long codes will be associated with specific SUNY Empire employees (AUTHPERS). Long codes are considered as messages sent from person-to-person (P2P).
  • CRM: Customer Relationship Management application. As of 2021, SUNY Empire has three (2) CRMs, Ellucian Recruit and Advise, reflecting the two different customers: prospect and student.
  • Twilio: SMS/text message services. SUNY Empire will use its platform to integrate with its approved CRMs.

Statements

All short-code and long-code messages (SMS/texting messages) sent to individuals who are prospects (inquiries), applicants or students, for SUNY Empire business, must be sent through one of the institution's approved CRM applications.

The institution’s SMS/text message method of contact, by default is “opt-out” until an individual specifically consents to “opt-in” to a SMS/text message program. SUNY Empire will provide a clear process for individuals to “opt-in” and “opt-out” of SMS/text messages, as well as requirements for employees to follow that will align with state, federal, and vendor regulations and SUNY Empire policies (Appendix A). Employees must follow these requirements.

No unsolicited SMS/text message will be sent without prior expressed consent from the individual, nor will the individual receive SMS/text messages after an individual has requested to “opt-out.” Via the approved CRM applications, a confirmation for “opt-in” is required to be sent for consent and an acknowledgement for “opt-out” is required to acknowledge “opt-out” an hour after receipt.

Enrolling a member in multiple short code programs based on a single “opt-in” is prohibited. Therefore, individuals must separately “opt-in” and “opt-out” to texts coming from the three CRMs separately.

Requests for “opt-in/opt-out” for any of the CRMs are required to be processed daily, every hour via the appropriate approved CRM application communication plans.

NO employee will be permitted to change another individual’s default “opt-out” to “opt-in” as everyone is required to provide SUNY Empire consent.

“Opt-in/out-out” is captured in the text messaging platform (Twilio), for auditing purposes by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and TCPA, vendor and state and federal organizations if deemed necessary.

Employees who receive an email, phone call or a request physically at one of our locations to “opt-in” or “opt-out” must follow the process described in Appendix A.

“Opt-in” consent will change the default “opt-out” to “opt-in.” NO employee will be permitted to change another individual’s “opt-in” to “opt-out,” as everyone is required to send a message using the keyword “STOP” to halt future messages.

SUNY Empire will provide a high level of customer service and compliance by displaying a “HELP” keyword so individuals can receive assistance when either trying to “opt-in” or out of a SMS/text message. A return message with instructions on how to contact SUNY Empire for assistance will be sent upon receiving the “HELP” keyword. Additionally, customer service instructions will be provided at the “opt-in” experience and, at least once a month, will be displayed in any regular SMS/text messages.

SUNY Empire will be a good steward of information, respecting the privacy of our prospective, current, and graduated students and will follow CTIA and TCPA guidelines, applicable state, federal, and vendor regulations, approved short-code application, SUNY Empire’s text messaging, communication, and data security policies. A master calendar will be created that provides information about each planned text approved to be sent through each CRM. The master calendar is a cross-divisional effort that reduces the risk of non-compliance and off-brand messaging activities.

SUNY Empire must follow parameters outlined in its approved short-code application (Appendix B). To ensure compliance, the associate vice president of enrollment will provide oversight of texts sent to prospects, and the vice provost of student affairs will provide oversight of texts sent to students. These leaders, or their designee, have the authority to review content of all SMS/text messages, including long-code messages, the intended targeted audience, the purpose and frequency of text messages, and the timing and execution of such message(s) to ensure messaging is aligned with CTIA and TCPA guidelines, applicable state, federal, and vendor regulations, approved short-code application, SUNY Empire’s text messaging and communication policies, and master calendar.

All SMS/text messages, regardless of type, will be sent for the purpose of furthering the institution's mission in accordance with SUNY Empire’s core values. SMS/text messages will be used to support and enhance existing communications and will not be used as the primary communication vehicle.

No component of SMS/text messages may be deceptive about the underlying program’s functionality, features, or content. All disclosures present in pre-purchase calls-to-action, advertisements, terms and conditions, and messages must remain clear and consistent throughout the individual’s experience. Calls to action must be clear and accurate; consent must not be obtained through deceptive means.

A list of approved uses cases is available on Appendix B. Any modification to any use case(s) or any additional use case(s) are required to be submitted for approval by the appropriate department leader and CTIA. Any violation can result in our short code application being revoked.

SMS/text messages will be sent during regular business hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., based on the time zones of individual(s).

SMS/text messages will not be sent during documented state and federal holidays. See appendices for master SMS/text message contact calendar. All employees are required to adhere to this calendar.

SMS/text messages will not be sent during an emergency blackout. All employees responsible for using SMS/text messages are required to subscribe to Contact Center Compliance at https://www.dnc.com/ to ensure compliance.

If any message(s) are deemed non-complaint, any of the leaders listed, or their designee, has the right to request adjustments and/or deny such message(s). If adjustments are recommended, the adjustments must fall within the scope of SUNY Empire’s approved short code application.

Applicable Legislation and Regulations

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices

References

CTIA

TCPA

Twilio SMS/text message guidelines 

Twilio SMS/text message guidelines for U.S. 

Twilio SMS/text message Carrier Filtering in U.S. and Canada 

Contact Center Compliance

CTIA Handbook

Master SMS/text message Contact Calendar

Policies

Adherence to the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act 

General Data Protections Regulations

Use of College Name and Wordmark Policy

Aggressive Recruitment

General Data Protection Regulations Privacy Policy

Policies, Procedures and Guidelines

Procedures

NON-AUTHPER requests for access to a short code or a long code will be submitted to the appropriate leader or designee, as determined by audience, via ticket through Service Now. Required details are the use case, intended target audience, purpose, frequency of text messaging, timing and execution of the message, and which CRM will be used to build and execute the message.

Leaders or their designee have the authority to revoke any AUTHPER’S use of a long code and/or access to a short code if used inappropriately and/or if it violates CTIA and TCPA guidelines, applicable state, federal, and vendor regulations, approved short code application, SUNY Empire’s text messaging, communication and/or data security policies; and/or master SMS/text message contact calendar.

Appendices

Appendix A: Employee Guidelines for Opt-in/Opt-out

Appendix B: SUNY Empire Approved Short Code Application (will be inserted once approved)