Telephone Survey Best Practices

Telephone Survey Best Practices

The popular saying “quality over quantity” applies to b2b market research where quality insights provide more meaningful information than a larger sample with more shallow responses. The response rate for a telephone survey is typically around 5%-25% and depends on various factors, such as the quality of the contact database, the degree of audience engagement with the supplier’s brand or/and product, and transparency behind the research sponsor or if the survey is blind.

There are a number of ways to increase the chances of a high quality b2b sample:

  1. Use Quality Databases – The survey database should always be up-to-date and as accurate as possible. Each company should ideally have a named contact with a direct telephone number or email address. Customers should also be relevant for the subject matter of the survey. A high-quality database will lead to high quality research and insights.

  2. Disclose The Sponsor – It is advantageous to disclose the survey sponsor as this legitimizes the survey by making sure it is seen as credible (and respondents know who their feedback is going back to). A blind survey is more likely to get ignored as people don’t know who is behind it, or they make assumptions which then bias their survey responses.

  3. Demonstrate Value – Communicate the benefits of completing the survey to customers. Ensure that they are aware that their feedback will result in improvements they will value. Consider including a ‘thank you’ for their time and cooperation, where appropriate to do so.

  4. Be Conscious of Customers’ Time – When designing survey instruments, be wary of survey length. Surveys that are too long, with a subject that isn’t relevant/interesting, will cause customers to drop off during the survey. Leverage different question techniques to maintain interest and engagement.

  5. Send A Pre-Survey Outreach – The response rate can be boosted by the research sponsor sending an alert in advance, explaining the purpose of the survey and encouraging participation. In the case of email invites, it is beneficial to ensure the survey invitations are company branded, and that they include contact details for a key contact within the company sponsoring the research.

  6. Manage Contact Frequency – Reaching out to customers too frequently can often result in alienating them. Adhere to the rule of three – contact them up to three times throughout the fieldwork period but leave at least a few days between each communication attempt.

  7. Note Geographic Regulations – Certain geographic markets (especially those in Western Europe and Canada) are very protective of their contact details and sensitive about the use of their data. This has become even more of a concern since GDPR. Make sure there is a clear process in place from the outset, from the data processing agreement and clarity about the handling of the data, through to transparency with customers around their data rights.

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