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Market Research Blog

Updates from CFR

Phone Surveys: Data Collection Advantages and Disadvantages

Posted by Colson Steber on 04/19/2018

Businesswoman with financial symbols coming from her hand-1-997126-edited.jpegPolling potential or existing consumers is often the first step when it comes time for new businesses to enter the market or existing ones to add new products. And in today’s tele-connected world, no longer do researchers have to rely on focus groups, in-depth interviews or direct mail surveys to get the job done. Instead, a host of remotely accessible options exist that enables savvy market researchers the choice of connecting to the market without physically having to mobilize it. One of the oldest and most staid of all the research methods is the ubiquitous phone survey. It’s a no frills, “tried and true” alternative for companies looking for robust information quickly. But it does have its limitations. Take a look at the phone survey’s advantages and disadvantages:

Phone Survey Advantages

  • Because a trained interviewer is conducting a phone survey and is personally reaching out to individual respondents, it is much easier to secure respondent participation. People can easily dismiss a direct-mail flyer or email, but it’s harder to ignore a real person asking for help with something.
  • Data gleaned from phone surveys is often more insightful because moderators can probe for, clarify and expand on respondent answers, uncovering valuable details not apparent through static endeavors like direct-mail surveys and email or other web-based surveys. Putting pen to paper or clicking through a survey, where responses are often limited by a preselected list of answers, provides little flexibility for the open-ended questions that can be fostered through phone surveys.
  • Telephone surveys are relatively easy to conduct and analyze, due in part to computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). Being able to talk to interviewees and enter data directly in to a computer in real time means researchers can garner results immediately. There are little to no wait times for surveys to be returned or for their information to be recorded and studied.
  • Using a telephone to reach consumers is frequently a cheaper option for companies wanting the intimacy of personal conversation without the hassle and expense of organizing physical interactions. Other market research methods like in-depth interviews and focus groups can require logistical planning for travel, catering and lodging. Costs can quickly add up. Phone surveys, on the other hand, don’t require any of those things.

Phone Survey Disadvantages

  • While cell phones are pervasive in modern societies, landlines are quickly becoming obsolete. And of the people who do still own home phones, many are of older generations, making the data that comes from phone surveys oftentimes less diverse than other sources.
  • Like a lot of other survey modes, phone surveys are limited by space. Not being face-to-face with a respondent means an interviewer can not access vital body cues during conversation. Sometimes it’s these small signals that tell the most about a person’s feelings on a subject.
  • Phone surveys are unavoidably constrained by time. People don’t want to be interrupted during dinner or bath time or while doing homework or relaxing. Companies must be mindful of this; the general consensus is that a phone survey should last no more than 15 minutes.
  • It’s true that phone surveys are less expensive than face-to-face encounters, but they are still more expensive than web-based and direct mail surveying. They require trained interviewers, as well as a system for making the calls, both of which cost money.

Ready to Learn More?

Telephone surveys can provide companies with valuable information. If you need help determining if a phone survey could help your business, contact our team at Communications for Research (CFR). We have decades of experience and the necessary programming and staff to reach consumers and garner meaningful results, whether it’s via phone or another survey type.

You can also download our FREE eBook, “How to Get Phone Recruits to Complete an Online Survey,” for additional information: 

Free Ebook - How to Get Telephone Recruits to Complete An Online Survey

Topics: phone surveys , data collection

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