SMS for Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Philip Cleave
July 26, 2019

SMS is a survey distribution channel that often gets overlooked. Maybe because it can feel a little old-fashioned, with thoughts of old Nokia phones and so on, but in reality, it’s a powerful tool to use as part of your customer service surveys. Let’s take a look at why that is, and what SMS can do for you.

SMS surveys boost response rates

One of the key benefits of an SMS survey is that people still place a higher priority on looking at or checking a text-message alert than they do for surveys by email. In fact if you think about it, modern smartphones have this priority preference built in – with text alerts usually getting a beep and a notification on the screen, while incoming emails are often just a beep unless the user has some special settings created.

This is of course because of the relative amount of traffic the average person receives on each channel in a day. Email, because of the near-zero cost per message, gets a lot of traffic and is something that people can feel they are drowning in, while text-messaging is more infrequent.

This higher priority assigned to text messages has benefits for survey response rates, which is always something that those of us who run surveys are looking to improve. More responses mean better data.

When are SMS surveys most appropriate?

The best uses of SMS distribution make use of this immediacy by sending the survey invitation at a carefully-chosen moment in the customer’s engagement with the sending organization.

For example, an airline could send a feedback survey to passengers timed for just before the aircraft lands. Seasoned travelers will be well aware of this frequent pattern of behavior where the passengers will have had their phones in “airplane” mode for the duration of the flight, and so almost as soon as the wheels hit the runway, phones come out of pockets and are re-connected to the network so the owners can catch up on what they’ve missed during the flight, including any backed-up SMS messages. With the right timing, the survey invitation will arrive and flash up on the screen while the passenger has the phone in their hands, perfectly primed for responding.

Another common example you may have come across is the survey following up on a phone interaction with a business, like after making a booking or some other enquiry. Again, the contact can be made very shortly after the phone call ends and the sender can have a reasonable degree of confidence that the recipient will be ready to respond, and that the responses about the customer experience will be accurate thanks to the short time delay between the interaction and the survey.

Really, any business that collects mobile phone numbers can find situations where they’ll benefit from the return on investment that comes from using SMS surveys. Where time windows between initial data collection and survey distribution are narrow, making use of an API to add the contact information to your address book can make for a fast and seamless process.

What about responding via text?

Some clients ask us about doing surveys where the respondent submits their answers via SMS as well, but we usually advise against this.

The reason being that the data that you can get back is necessarily very limited and that it doesn’t make the best use of the hardware that’s available to the respondent. In nearly all cases (pdf), the respondent will be using a smartphone to receive the SMS and so it’s best to make use of the features this makes available. Unless the expected response is only a single question, then relying on SMS for receiving the responses starts to raise a huge number of issues around cost (each new question will need to be sent as its own SMS) and complexity. Directing respondents to complete an online survey that can utilize the full range of question types, logic functions, and branding is nearly always the best course of action, and best experience for respondents.

SMS is easier than you think

SmartSurvey makes it easy to take advantage of SMS distribution. Simply contact our team with your requirements and we’ll set you up with the right package for your needs. Once this is done, sending an Email out via SMS is as easy as using the email tool – simply upload your contacts and create an invitation using our intuitive interface. Because SMS invitations use our tracking links, You can filter your responses based on them and compare their performance and the responses received against other methods of survey distribution.

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If you would like more information then please get in touch.