SMS data capture service begins trials

A pilot for an SMS-based data capturing tool which can measure customer satisfaction is being tested by Sony Ericsson and developer of advanced messaging technology Broca

The technology used for the pilot is called Acquire, and instead of using standard 160-character text, a small Java applet is used which allows messages to be structured in 'forms' with space available for data entry. The fields are then formatted as a drop down list which allows the consumer to scroll down to their chosen response.

In Sony Ericsson's case, this will allow it to receive information from consumers about how satisfied they are with handset repairs in real time and more efficiently than the usual call centre questionnaire. In the UK the T-Mobile network is being used for the trial, while independent tests are being run in Sweden.

"[Sony Ericsson is] quite farsighted in terms of the customer experience and that is what's driven it." said Ian Price, managing director of Broca. "The company recognised that whether you are a handset manufacturer or a mobile network you will struggle to make yourselves different from your competitors."

"People are very promiscuous about what handset they have. There are certain points in a customer's experience which makes switching more likely especially if they have a problem with their handset. Repairs are a real trigger point and that's why they started to concentrate on that."

Broca has also been working with a SMS encryption technology called Secure Advanced Message Service (SAMS) which has proved useful for financial transactions and which has been employed in other parts of the world, particularly South East Asia due to demand for mobile internet outstripping fixed line services. SAMS works by making an SMS message pin protected, encrypting the data and recording delivery of the message. "If you are text messaging your credit card number to somebody, it should be all three of those things." Price said.