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Phone Survey Strategies that Deliver the Best Results

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McKay Bird

Chief Marketing Officer

Successful phone survey research involves a dedication of time, effort and a well-thought out strategy. To get the best possible results, it makes sense to do as much research as possible ahead of time , so you’re well prepared before administering the survey.

When it comes to getting people to give up their valuable time to help your organization collect data, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost: don’t forget that your respondents are doing you a favor. They’re volunteering their time and knowledge, and they’ll expect you to be grateful.

Here are some additional tips for getting the survey results you want.

Ask the Right Questions

It may seem like common sense, but if you want people to give you the information you’re looking for, you’ve got to ask the right questions. More importantly, it’s important to focus on asking the most essential and relevant questions to the topic at hand.

If some of your questions are not clearly related to the main purpose of the survey, then you’re wasting time collecting irrelevant information. If you’re trying to find out whether your audience prefers the color blue or purple, it doesn’t make much sense to ask them what they think about the color orange.

It’s also valuable to tailor your survey questions specifically to your audience. Characteristics like age, gender, language, interests, etc., should be taken into consideration when writing the questions so that they are as appropriate as possible to the audience you are surveying.

In addition to asking the right questions, it’s important that the questions are simple to read, easy to understand and unmistakably clear. If questions are vague or confusing, your respondents will be less likely (or able) to give you the quality answers you’re seeking.

The Wrong Questions

Questions that make people ask, “What do you mean?” or “How exactly do I answer that?” are not clear enough, and should be re-written or removed altogether from a survey.

Complicated questions or questions that require your respondents to have a deeper level of knowledge of your survey are not likely to produce good results. If a question seems too complex, try breaking it down into simpler terms, making it as easy as possible for the person to give you a straightforward answer.

For example, the following question doesn’t explain how to answer the question: “How would you rate your satisfaction with our products and services?”

In this case, the respondent needs a scale with which to rate the products and services, whether it be numeric or otherwise. A better question might be, “On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best, how would you rate your satisfaction with our products and services?”

Questions that are actually two questions in one are also not ideal for a phone survey, as the respondent will likely answer one part of the question in more depth than the other, or they could ignore part of the question entirely.

Take the following question, for example: “What do you like best about product X and product Y?” could be simplified into two separate questions. Instead, you could ask, “What do you like best about product X?” And then follow up with, “What do you like best about product Y?”

The answers might be very different, and separating the questions allows the respondent to think about one product at a time, resulting in a more well-thought out answer for each question.

These are just a few of the types of questions that should not be included in a phone survey, or in any survey for that matter. Keep in mind that the simpler and more direct your questions are, the better your results will tend to be.

Be Considerate of People’s Time and Privacy

Quality is definitely better than quantity in the case of a phone survey. And keep in mind that if the survey is too long, your respondents could get overwhelmed or annoyed. So don’t ask too many questions, take up too much of their time or ask redundant questions. If you ask the same question in five different ways, your respondents will likely become frustrated.

It’s also important to let people know the information they’re providing is confidential. If you can go a step further and tell them exactly how the information is being used, it may help them feel more vested in the survey.

For example, if they know the survey results are being used to improve the company’s level of customer service, they may give you more detailed, accurate information. Also, whenever possible, direct questions specifically to the individual respondent. It will help them to feel more valuable and that their answers are a vital to the survey results.

Reward People for their Time

Although it’s not always necessary, rewarding people for their time couldn’t hurt, right? Even something as simple as a $5 gift card, a coupon for 10% percent off a future purchase or something similar might be all you need to encourage someone to participate in a phone survey.

However, it’s also important to determine when it makes sense to offer an incentive…and when it doesn’t.

According to Survey Monkey, “While incentives have demonstrated that they can help with response rates, it’s important to keep in mind that a high response rate doesn’t mean that a survey is free of bias.” Just be sure that the incentive you’re offering makes sense based on your audience and the survey topic, or you may end up with some strange (and inaccurate) results.

Last but not least, don’t forget to say thank you! Whether it’s at the end of the call or via email, just be sure to let your respondents know how much you appreciate their time. It may seem like a simple gesture, but it will go a long way.

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