Internet enabled devices and new developments of technology have altered the way we communicate and exchange information. Moreover, they have provided us with more options to collect, manage, distribute and analyse data. This has had great impact on market research methods and processes. Internet and social media analytics have opened up opportunities for faster, easier and greater scope of data collection. Big-data has been the biggest trend in market research recognized as threat to diminish the need for traditional survey methods like telephone interviews and focus groups. Despite this, telephone-interviews, more specifically CATI (Computers Assisted Telephone Interview) research method, is still widely used in universities and research companies.
Why? In a world where almost EVERYTHING is online, why would market researchers still be conducting surveys over the phone?
Before you jump into conclusions, take into consideration that according to GRIT (Green Book Research Industry Trends) traditional market research methods are driving decision making processes and that there isn’t really a method that’s going to take over everything else (just yet).
Feeling puzzled? “The answer itself emerges when we have a closer look at the challenges of online surveys and how these are addressed and resolved when CATI research method is used.”
1. Lack of human “touch” in online surveys
The core of human nature is live interaction. Online surveys lack dialogue and absence of responses clarifications. Well-trained interviewers are very effective in resolving respondents concerns and obtaining higher response rate in contrast to impersonalised online surveys. Moreover, communicating the importance and gratitude for people’s participation through a dialogue motivates survey participants to provide more accurate and truthful answers. Finally, CATI interviewers can obtain richer feedback from open-end questions, in contrast to online or self-administered surveys.
2. Targeting the wrong audience
Online surveys have enabled greater scope and scale of data collection for lower costs. However, they have done little if any for increasing quality and response rate of surveys. Furthermore, every researcher will tell you that the more narrow the target audience the more accurate the results. In other words, for a successful research you need to ask the right questions to the right people. With on-line surveys this can be tricky. Firstly, there is lack of centralised e-mail databases. Building these databases is often the most time and energy consuming part of the CATI research. Second, more limited the geography; the more challenging is to use online methods as a sample source for survey research. Finally, in B2B surveys, the most challenging path is identifying and reaching out to the right person for interviewing. Sending emails to people at higher level of the hierarchy often end up being open by the wrong person or as spam. There’s really no viable substitute to manual navigation through “gate-keepers” when e-mail or direct mail addresses aren’t absolutely certain.
3. Validity and reliability
Regardless whether the research is academic or B2B, validity and reliability remain of highest priority for successful survey. The above discussion vouches that CATI method scores higher on both simply because each question is read. For that reason there’s a higher confidence that the respondent is of the correct age, is the right person, and is actually hearing/responding to each question correctly. Moreover, advances in technology have enabled recording of CATI survey which, if needed, can later be revised to ensure validity and reliability of responses.
In conclusion, we should be very careful when we adopt new technologies and dismiss traditional ways of doing things. We should not by any means lose the foundational methodologies of doing research, but look for ways technology advances and the internet can increase and enhance the benefits of CATI research.
Rating Call Centres is part of Rating NewMedia Group, a leading provider of outsourced research and contact centre services in Macedonia, working for clients in more than ten countries in EU. We specialize in market research and surveys methodologies, most proficient in outsourced CATI and Face to face research regardless of the industry in German, English, Italian and all Balkan languages.
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