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SMS surveys are ideal for VOC  in South Africa

SMS surveys are ideal for VOC in South Africa

Mobile technology has revolutionised the way businesses interact with customers. With the majority of South Africans owning a mobile phone, companies have the opportunity to connect with customers on a more personal level and gather valuable insights into customer needs and preferences. However, while smartphones and mobile apps may be popular among higher-income groups, many lower-income South Africans still rely on basic feature phones with limited data capabilities. This presents unique challenges and opportunities for businesses that want to conduct customer surveys and gather feedback from customers in lower LSM groups.

According to a 2021 report by the Mobile Marketing Association of South Africa (MMASA), mobile penetration in South Africa has grown steadily over the past decade, with an estimated 92% of the population owning a mobile phone. However, there are significant disparities in mobile ownership and usage between different income groups. Lower LSM (Living Standards Measure) groups, which make up the majority of the population, are more likely to use basic feature phones with limited data capabilities, while higher LSM groups are more likely to use smartphones with access to mobile apps and the internet.

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This unique mobile landscape means that there is still great value in SMS as a channel for engaging with South African customers, particularly for feedback and here is why:

Wide Reach

One of the main advantages of SMS as a survey channel is its wide reach. Unlike mobile apps or online surveys, which require an internet connection and may not be accessible to lower-income groups, SMS surveys can be sent to any mobile phone with basic SMS capabilities. This means that businesses can gather feedback from a large and diverse customer base, including those in rural and remote areas with limited internet access.

Low Cost

SMS surveys are also a relatively cost-effective way to gather customer feedback. Compared to other survey channels, such as phone surveys or face-to-face interviews, SMS surveys require minimal resources and can be conducted at a much lower cost. Further, most customers have a number of SMS’s that are available to them as part of their airtime purchase, meaning little cost to the customer. Further, options exist to zero-rate SMS’s responses from customers, further decreasing the cost impact for each respondent. Find out more about reverse billing here

Simple and Convenient

Another advantage of SMS surveys is their simplicity and convenience. Basic feature phones often have limited data capabilities and may not be able to support complex mobile apps or online surveys. SMS surveys, on the other hand, can be easily accessed and completed using a simple text message. This makes it easy for customers to provide feedback, even if they have limited technological skills or access to the internet.

Higher Response Rates

Studies have shown that SMS surveys can have higher response rates compared to other survey channels. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, SMS surveys had an average response rate of 45%, compared to 27% for email surveys and 15% for online surveys. This may be because SMS surveys are more convenient and less intrusive than other survey channels, and customers are more likely to respond when they receive a personalised and relevant message.


Finally, SMS surveys offer the opportunity for personalised communication with customers. Businesses can use customer data to tailor survey questions and messages to the individual customer, making the survey experience more engaging and relevant. Personalised messages are also more likely to be read and responded to, increasing the overall effectiveness of the survey.

In conclusion, while mobile technology has transformed the way businesses interact with customers, SMS remains an ideal channel for conducting customer surveys among lower LSM groups in South Africa. With its wide reach, low cost, simplicity, convenience, higher response rates, and opportunities for personalisation, SMS surveys offer a valuable tool for gathering feedback and insights from a diverse and often underserved customer base.

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