5 Reasons You Should Text Your Jurors

April 21, 2020 by John Arnsten

5 Reasons You Should Text Your Jurors

Recently, I was browsing the internet, trying to keep current, reading technology-based articles when I came across a phrase I thought really summed up the jury process:

“Communication is the lifeblood of productivity.”

The quote stuck with me because of how much effective jury management is related to communicating with jurors about their service. During consultations, I always stress the importance of increasing jury yield through a two-pronged attack of accurate juror data and keeping the public informed through communication and access.

Tyler Technologies is always trying to make this goal easier by incorporating widely used and accepted methods of communication into the jury process, including Tyler Jury Message, which allows jury staff to send jurors automated or manual text messages about their service.

When looking deeper, it became clear that text messaging is now the quickest, most efficient way people use to communicate with each other. Here are 5 reasons why you should be using text messaging in your jury operation.

1. It is an effective way of communicating with ALL jurors.

In my research on the state of text messaging, I came across a couple of statistics that really stood out. One said 90% of texts are read within 10 minutes of being sent. The other is that people check their mobile phone approximately 150 times a day.

I don’t know how accurate these figures are, but I can verify this to some extent with my personal experience receiving text messages. I can say with certainty I check most texts I receive right away. The familiar sound of my iPhone’s text messaging tone is ingrained in my psyche. Even if it is not my phone, when I hear that sound, I instinctively reach for my pocket. I check my phone all the time. This makes it a powerful tool for keeping jurors informed and can be harnessed because it is identifiable to people of all ages and demographics.

2. It is effective across ALL demographics.

When we think of text messaging, the typical image is of a spry, social “millennial” talking to his or her friends. However, it’s not just teenagers and college students who are avid “texters.” Here are some of the amazing findings from a report created by the research company, Portio:

  • SMS is used by more people than any other form of written communication, ever.
  • No other form of communication has ever been available to such a large segment of the human race, ever, in all history.
  • Worldwide, in mid-2013, almost 6 billion people used mobile voice and SMS.
  • More people now have an SMS-capable mobile phone than a toothbrush.
  • More people use SMS than a flushing toilet.
  • Twice as many people use SMS as have access to the internet or have an email account.
  • SMS is more accessible than radio, TV, internet access, printed books, bank accounts, newspapers, and social networks - everything.

As the bulk of jurors are in the 18-60 year old age range, receiving a text message about their service makes sense. It is a technology that has been embraced equally across almost all age groups and ethnicities because of its accessibility and convenience. Basically, if you want to contact as many potential jurors as possible, send them a text message.

3. It is immediate. They can be sent and read at ANY time.

Up until now, a letter in the mail had been the most utilized method of communicating with jurors. However, as we know from experience, it is also the slowest, least accurate, most involved method deployed. This means the message/information might not be received, received too late, or sent to the wrong place. Simply put ... it is not efficient enough.

Even if your letter makes it to the right place with time to spare, does the juror check their mailbox immediately when it gets there? Will the juror read it right away? Will they throw it on a pile of junk mail? The trash? All are problematic questions that make reaching jurors with important information all the more unlikely.

In contrast, sending a text message is immediate. It is sent and received instantaneously. As mentioned above, people check their phone all day long. A sound is made when a new text message is received. In this case, it is expected because you have collected jurors’ contact information and most prefer to be contacted in this manner. And, because people tend to keep their phones on them, they are also keeping the message you sent on them. The same cannot be said for paper letters.

4. It is better than a phone call or email.

Even though email and phone calls have replaced the mailed letter in utilized communication methods, emails and phone calls have their own drawbacks in comparison to text messages.

  • Phone calls are great if you have time to make them. Outbound calls are time-consuming but hearing someone’s voice provides a personal touch an email or text cannot provide. However, the juror will need to answer the call and with call display, chances are they may not pick up the call if they do not know who it is. Further, if a juror is busy, at home, or in a place that they cannot take a phone call, you have to rely on a voicemail, adding time to your day and leaving it more to chance that they listen to it quickly. Even if you have an automated caller, you are reducing the chances that a juror gets the message when relying on a telephony solution.
  • Although an email is better than a phone call, emailing someone still has some drawbacks compared to a text message. First, the primary way of spreading malware (viruses) from one computer to the next is by email so people are more cautious and skeptical. Malicious links and attachments are problems with email that don't exist to the same extent on text messages, making it a more secure platform. This leads many emails, possibly yours, of ending up in the junk mail folder. Email messages can easily get lost or inadvertently filtered out of the inbox. Second, a text can be sent from any location you can get a data connection, and there's no need for email client software to get up and running. Most modern smartphones now come with built-in email clients, but texting remains simpler to do and is the only option if you're using a more basic cell phone.

5. It saves money.

The best reason of all to use this technology is it saves you money! In fact, it saves you money in a couple of ways.

First, if your main method of communication is mailing letters, text messaging is less expensive because there is no paper to deal with, no postage, return postage, or undelivered costs to account for. If time is money, and a text message takes a fraction of the time to get to the juror, it is easy to see why sending a text over mailing a letter would save you money.

Second, relates to your jury yield. As I mentioned earlier, text messages have the highest chance of getting to the juror as well as the highest chance of being read immediately. The more jurors you communicate with and provide service-related information, the higher the percentage of jurors you’ve summoned will report for service. This means you can mail less summonses, and by extension, spend less money to get the required number of jurors you need. Better still, if you combine text messaging with another method like email, your savings are guaranteed.

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