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SMS surveys: Best practices for success

Alia Paavola
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Customer satisfaction surveys help businesses measure customer experience, diagnose problems, and improve over time. More companies are turning to SMS to gather feedback from customers. But why should businesses use SMS to collect survey responses? Read on to learn about SMS surveys, including the benefits and best practices to get actionable data on this channel.

  • What is an SMS survey?
  • Benefits of SMS surveys
  • Why send SMS surveys
  • Best practices for successful SMS surveys

What is an SMS survey?

As the name suggests, SMS surveys are surveys conducted via text message. Text surveys capture valuable customer feedback in near real-time. Companies often use this survey data to identify necessary improvements or learn more about their customers.

There are several SMS customer satisfaction survey types:

  • Customer satisfaction survey. CSAT surveys gauge how satisfied customers are with a particular interaction or service provided by your company. This type of survey is more of a short-term indicator of customer satisfaction. 
  • Net promoter score survey. NPS surveys measure customer loyalty. The survey asks customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service to a friend, colleague, or family member. It is an indicator of customer satisfaction over a more extended time period.
  • Customer effort score survey. CES surveys measure how much effort a customer must exert to resolve an issue, make a purchase, or use a product. It asks customers to rate this experience on a scale of ‘very easy’ to ‘very difficult.’
  • Custom surveys. In addition to three key customer satisfaction surveys, you could also send a custom survey via SMS. Custom surveys let your business ask customers questions in the format most helpful to your business. 

Benefits of SMS surveys

Surveys are a great way to collect valuable customer feedback. Text surveys work as they gather this data quickly and efficiently. Here are some benefits of SMS surveys. 

  • Guage customer satisfaction. SMS customer satisfaction surveys measure customer happiness with your brand. High customer satisfaction leads to better retention, higher revenue, and a more substantial brand reputation.
  • Learn customer wants and needs. Surveys help you understand customers better. This can lead to smarter business decisions, better marketing, and an improved customer experience.
  • Find areas you can improve. Surveys help you identify problems or pain points for customers. You can then implement targeted improvements.
  • Discover trends. After sending several customer surveys and analyzing the results, you can uncover trends. These trends can help you determine priorities, progress, or next steps. 
  • Improve retention and loyalty. Every business wants to retain customers and build loyalty. When executed properly, surveys are great retention tools. They help businesses show they’re listening to customers and create products customers want. 

Why send SMS surveys?

Due to its efficiency, SMS is a preferred channel for sending surveys to your customers. Data shows that SMS outperforms other channels when it comes to open and response rates. To understand this better, let’s take a closer look and compare the efficiency of SMS versus email. 

SMS vs. Email statistics

Read more: 51 statistics confirming the awesomeness of SMS for business

9 best practices for successful surveys

Now that we settled the matter of why you should use SMS surveys, it’s time to help you make the best out of them. We present you with several best practices to keep in mind when creating and distributing SMS surveys. 

Set the goal

The first step to executing a successful survey is to define its purpose. A few questions to help you set the goal:

  • What are you looking to measure? Customer loyalty, satisfaction, effort, churn, or something else?
  • What is the explicit goal of the survey? Learn more about your loyal customers, understand customer satisfaction, uncover why there’s rapid turnover, etc.
  • Who do you want to survey? Employees, customers, leads, etc.
  • When do you want to survey people? Post-purchase, after a support interaction, at random intervals throughout the year, etc.

Choose a suitable format

Based on your defined goal, make sure you’re using the best format. Consider the following:

  • What survey questions would be best? Open-ended questions, multiple-choice, or a mixture? 
  • Would a single-question or multiple-question survey work?
  • Do you want direct responses via SMS or customers to follow a link to an online survey?

Keep it short and simple

Value respondents' time by keeping the survey as brief as possible. Typically, the shorter the survey, the higher the completion rate. 


Ensure your text message survey is optimized for the mobile phone. SMS texts are 160 characters. Be mindful of that character limit when crafting SMS survey questions.

Plus, if you’re sending a link to an online survey, make sure the format is mobile-friendly. Otherwise, users will drop off immediately. 

Consider the timing

The time you send surveys matters. It plays a significant role in the overall survey response rate. Here are a few best practices when it comes to timing:

  • Keep recipients' time zone in mind
  • Test different survey send times to see what yields the best results
  • Add a time delay for surveys if you’re looking for feedback about a purchased product 
  • Send surveys immediately if you’re looking for feedback about a particular interaction

And remember, SMS surveys, like other text interactions, need to be sent between the legally proposed timeframe: 8 am and 9 pm.

Consider the frequency

In addition to timing, pay attention to the survey frequency. In other words, don’t overwhelm customers with multiple surveys a week. Be mindful that customers are more likely to opt-out if they think you’re messaging too frequently.

Use an incentive

One of the best ways to encourage customers to complete surveys is to offer an incentive. Consider using incentives like dollar-off discounts, gifts, or free raffle entries.

Follow up

The last step of this interaction would be to follow up with respondents. You can use this follow-up to simply thank them for completing the survey or ask another question to get better context. Take a look at some best practices for different follow-up scenarios:

Following up after negative feedback:

  • See if you need to ask a follow-up question to understand the negative experience better.
  • Thank your customer for bringing the issue to your attention.
  • Own the mistake and apologize.
  • Offer a solution or discount to soften the bad experience.
  • Take the feedback to heart and use the learning to improve.

Following up after positive feedback:

  • Determine if you need more context for the positive feedback.
  • Thank the customer for their time and feedback.
  • Share the feedback with your team to reinforce what went well.
  • Ask the customer if they’d be willing to leave a review.

Process collected data

Once you collect responses, seriously analyze them! You want to learn from the data. Otherwise, all effort would be pointless. 

Many SMS providers, like Textline, offer survey tools like metrics to help with this step.

Send SMS surveys with Textline

Textline’s SMS survey software makes it easy to collect valuable feedback. Our SMS platform offers survey templates, customizable surveys, answer validation, and digestible metrics. Plus, you can send NPS and CSAT surveys in your customers' preferred languages.

Simplify SMS surveys with Textline. Try it today for free.

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