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Market research via telephone surveys is used to gather and interpret large sets of responses from a broad selection of customers, consumers, businesses or the general public. The reasons for conducting telephone based research can include:
- Gauging customer satisfaction levels
- Identify trends in business/consumer behaviour to inform product development or marketing strategy
- Finding interesting results that can be spun into a news story and used for publicity
Why Conduct Telephone Surveys?
Telephone surveys are more appropriate for certain types of market research than other methods. The advantages of conducting telephone based research arise from the following:
- Telephone numbers are easy to obtain in bulk (for businesses at least) or gather from customers.
- A number of telephone operatives can work through large lists quickly.
- Responses are gathered at the time of contact i.e. there is no lag time.
- People pay more attention to their responses when talking to a person than when they’re filling in a form.
- People are more likely to answer open ended questions (e.g. what are your reasons for liking this product?) than when filling in a form.
- Respondents can be thanked personally for giving up their time.
Points to Consider
When commissioning a telephone survey there are three main factors to which you should pay particular attention:
Sample selection – Choosing the people who you’ll survey deserves careful consideration. If you’re genuinely looking to establish trends or attitudes among a particular type of customer you’ll want to gather as much data as possible from as random a sample as possible to make your analysis worthwhile. Again, if you’re looking to gauge customer satisfaction you’ll want to survey a broad spectrum of your customer base. If you’re looking for a potential news story you might want to pick a particular demographic that matches your target audience e.g. under 25s or working mums.
Compiling a questionnaire – The questions you ask your respondents will hugely affect the results you obtain. There are plenty of opportunities in question construction to bias answers in one direction or another, whether intentional or not. If you’re looking for data to inform your marketing or business decision making you’ll need it to be as unbiased as possible. Ambiguous questions, complex questions, questions that are too short or include jargon words all lead to a potential bias in answers. These methods can of course be used to bias answers in your favour when looking for PR material.
Analysis of results – A market research company should be skilled at gathering large amounts of data and interpreting that data using statistical methods. Many tools and techniques are available but you should always consider whether enough data has been gathered to back up the conclusions of the research. This is especially important if you’re basing important business decisions on them.
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