What is a Telephone Survey?

Felicia Dye

A telephone survey is a method of acquiring information. This may be done for several reasons, such as assessing the attitudes toward a political candidate or inquiring about the level of satisfaction among a particular group of consumers. This type of questionnaire can be conducted through live interaction, or it can be done through an automated process.

People conducting a telephone survey.
People conducting a telephone survey.

Surveys are information-gathering tools. There are numerous ways that surveys can be conducted. One of them is by contacting people over the telephone. Before a telephone survey is conducted, a list of questions should be carefully compiled. The manner in which the questions are worded can have a significant impact on the results, so it is important that thought be given to this aspect of the task. Once this is done, individuals need to be contacted so that their responses can be gathered. The people who are questioned are commonly referred to as the sample.

A telephone.
A telephone.

The reason that the survey is being conducted will affect how the sample is selected. For example, if the purpose of the telephone survey is to assess customer satisfaction with a particular product, then the sample needs to be limited to people who have used or purchased the product. If, however, the purpose of the telephone survey is to assess how many individuals in a certain geographic area are familiar with a product, then phone calls should be placed to people within that area.

There are several ways that the contact information for individuals who will be called can be collected. In the case of the customer satisfaction survey, the telephone numbers may be obtained from product registration cards or extended warranty files. In the case of the product familiarity survey, the telephone numbers may be randomly selected, or they may be purchased from parties who sell lists containing this type of information.

The task may be executed by individuals who contact the sample and pose the questions directly. The advantage of this type of telephone survey is that people may be more likely to participate because they do not want to appear rude by hanging up. In some instances, individuals are subjected to an automated telephone survey. This method has the advantage of making people feel more comfortable about providing honest answers because they are interacting with a machine. Overall, whether live or automated, there is a common drawback to conducting a telephone survey. People often feel intruded upon because they were not aware that their telephone numbers would be distributed and used for this purpose.

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