Answer as always…….it depends.
In my last blog I extolled the virtues of using outbound agent surveys. Now, if you don’t have the budget and you don’t need to ask a lot of questions you might want to consider using SMS as a means of reaching your target customers.
SMS is increasingly being used by organisations in Australia to communicate with customers. However, it is a methodology often used to most effect as either as an outbound reminder service or as part of a wider “holistic-type” marketing programme rather than for research or a sophisticated customer feedback programme.
That said, it can in some cases be used as a research tool or a recruitment tool for research, but its limitations for this purpose need to be understood. As a research or recruitment tool, SMS could be used in one of the following ways:
- Customers complete a short 2-3 question survey via their mobile phone, or
- Customers reply to the SMS with an email address – an automatic reply containing a link to a survey would then be sent to that email address, or
- Customers would reply to the SMS with a home telephone number – an interviewer would then contact the customer by phone to complete the survey.
The main advantage of SMS is it is a very cost effective methodology for collecting data from large customer populations. Mobile devices are also widely used by the majority of consumers and fully integrated into their everyday lives. Therefore respondents won’t need extensive training on how to complete an exercise. SMS also allows for information to be captured and reported quickly and close to a service interaction.
The main drawback of SMS is that in order to achieve an adequate response rate, the length of the survey needs to be restricted to 2-3 questions. In many of the programmes that we run for clients 2-3 questions is just not sufficient enough to provide anything really useful. On a practical level, it is extremely difficult to control data quality (resulting in data skews) and to control quotas / sample requirements. Another consideration is that not all customers would have a mobile phone number attached to their customer record. Finally as the survey can only be administered one question at a time, the format of the interaction can become very frustrating for respondents as they have to engage in series of send and receive tasks. This process does not generally reflect the way that consumers use SMS and would therefore potentially cause customer frustration. SMS also has the potential to cost the respondent between 80c and $1 to complete the survey as they would be liable to cover the cost of outgoing SMS responses.
Verdict: I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
I would be really interested to find out if anyone else has experience of using SMS and be willing to provide feedback on how effective it is. Feel free to add a comment.