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Updates from CFR

Telephone Interviewing: Data Collection Advantages & Disadvantages

Posted by Communications for Research on 11/18/2016

Telephone InterviewingOn today’s market research landscape, new and innovative data collection methods are taking advantage of the web and email to reach more samples, gather more intelligence, and generate more actionable insights.

However, telephone interviewing is certainly still part of the mix. In fact, rather than fading away into a dustbin of history (alongside rotary phones!), telephone interviewing for market research is becoming more advanced in the mobile-centric era. Below, we highlight the advantages and disadvantages.

Telephone Interviewing Advantages

  • Can lead to relatively high response rates in specific markets
  • Interviews can be completed fairly quickly
  • Can be used to reach samples over a wide geographic area
  • Virtually everyone has a land-line phone or cell/mobile phone which helps for getting a representative sample of your audience
    • Cell phone targeting for demographics is getting better than ever
  • Cost effective when used to inform and impact business decisions of much larger comparative value
  • More control in targeting specific types of samples vs. other methods (i.e. face-to-face surveys in public)
  • More personal in nature and, when conducted by skilled and experienced interviewers, can help enhance a business’s image (i.e. the experience can leave a positive impression on current and prospective customers, ultimately leading to sales, referrals and recommendations).
  • Provided that the questions are properly formulated and the interview is professionally administered, the quality of data generated can be high vs. other methods (e.g. surveys delivered over mobile devices, etc.).

Telephone Interviewing Disadvantages

  • Typically, questions cannot be of a complex nature. Discrete choice modeling and other research methods with complicated questions need to be seen to be understood.
  • Given the rather widespread aversion to telemarketers, samples may perceive legitimate market research interviews as sales calls, and therefore refuse to participate.
  • Unlike a face-to-face interview or focus group, interviewers – no matter how experienced and skilled – cannot see body language. For example, if a sample furrows his brow in the middle of a call (likely indicating a lack of understanding), interviewers will not be able to adjust in real-time accordingly
  • When the target audience is available through an online panel, telephone interviewing often appears as a much more expensive alternative

Telephone Interviewing: Yes or No?

At Communication For Research, our decades of experience confirms that telephone interviewing can be – and typically should be – a piece of the market research puzzle. The operative word here is piece. Telephone interviewing, even if it exploits all of the advantages described above, will not tell the full market research story. Other methods, such as those that use the web, email, face-to-face interviews, and focus groups, will invariably need to be part of the mix.

As a company that started as a market research data collection firm we have been responsive to the evolution of research methodologies that work in today’s world. Ten years ago 85% of our business was telephone interviewing.  Now studies that are done exclusively with telephone interviewing are 10% of our business.  We operate two call centers now because nearly half of the research we do benefits from the ability to pick up the phone and recruit or talk to someone rather than skip it because online surveys are cheap.

The good news is that if this mix is properly developed and professionally managed, it is not a costly expense. Rather, it is a shrewd investment that generates valuable, profitable data for everything from product development to marketing campaigns, and the list goes on. Simply put, there is no smarter, better or more reliable way to understand “the voice of the customer” than through market research, and telephone interviewing is certainly a part of this reality.

Learn More

To learn more about telephone interviewing, and for further information on how we can help your business take full advantage of this data collection approach, contact the Communication For Research team today. Let’s talk about your business and your goals. Then we can see whether CFR can help you achieve those goals with eye-opening market research!

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Topics: phone surveys , telephone interviewing

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