USSD is part of our daily lives – without us noticing. Topped up data recently on your phone? You used USSD. Confirmed a money transaction on your phone? You used USSD. Entered a competition on your phone? Yup, USSD. It is simply everywhere!

USSD, or Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, works on the principle that you participate in two-way communication (known as “pull” services) based on a menu of options and numbered responses, following a series of questions and answers presented by these. You are prompted to select an option which then leads to another set of options to narrow down your request, finally confirming what you want done. This process can be done in two steps or in many – it depends on what the USSD service is being used for. You also get “push” services where you get information about events, products, promotions, etc. via notifications.

So how can you use USSD in your business? We look at a few more ways you can make use of USSD.

Warnings and alerts

Insurance companies use this type of USSD-based notifications a lot, sending our weather alerts like storms, heavy rains and hail storms to warn clients to safeguard their property and vehicles.


Many companies inform their customers (via their database) of promotions and special offers via USSD notifications, following up with reminders of the promotion or sale.

News and sport updates

You can subscribe to services that use USSD to send messages to keep you up to date with the latest news and spots results, sending you short messages as events unfold.

Medical support

Patients who take chronic medicine or who need to monitor their symptoms or vital signs can receive notifications or reminders to do so via USSD, as well as tips on how to manage their illness.

Customer service

Few people like speaking to an automated voice response system, but USSD provides an alternative where customers and provide feedback on service, order from a menu, subscribe to services or check FAQs.


No longer do you need to go into a branch or find an ATM – you can do your business banking from your phone no matter where you are or what the time is using a USSD-based menu system.

Mobile phone updates

When you get a new phone and insert your SIM card, you are prompted to activate or update your settings – you are using USSD to make a long process much easier and streamlined.

Polls and surveys

Whether it’s your favourite pizza place finding out what new pizza toppings customers would like or your political party checking whether you have voted or not, USSD makes this process more convenient for the customer, with more accurate results.

Medical info

While we wouldn’t advise this in cases of serious medical conditions or severe illness, there are services where you feed in symptoms and can get medical advice by process of elimination via USSD menus.

USSD has entrenched itself in our lives and is a fast and convenient method to communicate with customers. It lowers costs as it is extremely affordable to implement, and also is a less time-consuming form of instant communication with your customers.