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Designing Dynamic / Effective Surveys

Automatic phone surveying is an economical and highly accurate method of collecting information by phone.. There are many advantages of automated phone surveys. Studies have indicated that automated surveys are more accurate than surveys conducted using live operators. Database Systems Corp. (DSC) was incorporated in 1978 and has been a leading developer of computer software and phone systems. Using this advanced technology, DSC provides phone surveys and custom phone applications for a wide variety of industries and governments.

The following article describes information about phone surveys and phone survey techniques.

Contact DSC to learn more about our phone survey development and automatic survey outsourcing services.

Designing Dynamic and Effective Surveys

National Federation of Independent Businesses,

Success in many businesses depends on gathering information about how customers feel regarding products and services, information about changes that may need to be made to the company's structure or plans, information about changing roles of employees, etc. There are numerous ways to gather such information, but the most basic and perhaps most economical is to conduct a survey. In today's Workshop, Jeffrey Moses discusses how to create a survey form or questionnaire to be sure that you're gathering the information you really need.

Surveys can be conducted by mail, in formal situations such as group meetings, in unstructured situations such as greeting passers-by in malls or on street corners, or by phone. Each of these methods requires specific techniques, but the basic essential of each is the effective design and use of a survey questionnaire.

A significant amount of research has gone into what makes a good questionnaire. Perhaps most important is to avoid questions that unduly influence answers. For example, in a questionnaire directed toward employees about ideas for the company's future growth, questions such as: "Do you feel our company should prepare for changes in the industry?" elicit obvious positive responses. Instead, wording should be more specific, such as: "Name the single most important change the company should consider during the upcoming year."

Be definite in a questionnaire. Don 't ask: "What is your opinion of the new phone system?" Instead, say: "Give specific examples of how the new phone system has benefited your work." You might add a follow-up question to cover opposite responses, such as: "Site specific ways in which the new phone system has hindered your work."

In general, keep questionnaires brief and to the point. Respondents tend to become flustered when asked too many questions. This could influence the accuracy of results.

When using written questionnaires to measure customer satisfaction, avoid requiring the respondents to write out their answers in words. Instead, use scales that allow them to select their degree of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. For example, the question: "Are you satisfied with the service you received from our receptionists?" could be followed by selections that the respondent could circle: "Very satisfied," "Satisfied," or "Not satisfied." Keep choice of selections to a minimum. This makes it easier for respondents.

Following the scale of choices, the questionnaire could include space for the respondent to write specific reasons for being satisfied or dissatisfied. At the left of this space include: "Reasons" or "Please explain" or "Examples." This will allow the respondent to describe specific situations, and may prove helpful in the overall evaluation of the survey.

When creating the page layout of a survey questionnaire (and even when writing the questions),find sample surveys that you can use as a basis for your design. This will make things simpler than designing from inception. Survey forms can be obtained through local Chambers of Commerce, Small Business Administration centers, or via the Internet. Simply type in "Surveys" on any of the large search engines and you'll be directed to a large number of possible samples. Also look under "employee surveys," "salary surveys," "customer satisfaction surveys," "product surveys," etc. Each of these contain a wealth of information specific to the topic.

When conducting a survey, make sure that you're addressing the people who will give you the most accurate and useful information. For example, if you're interested in finding out what customers feel about you, don't limit your survey to only your be stand most loyal customers.

In general, the more people you survey, the more accurate the results. A survey among 25 people isn't as strong as a survey among 100 or 1,000 people. The exception is, of course, when only a small number of people can give you the information you need.

If your phone survey is attempting to gather and document information that is vital to your company, consider hiring research experts to design and conduct the survey for you. These firms specialize in market research and can make sure that results are statistically valid. You can locate research firms in the Yellow Pages under "Market Research Companies" or "Marketing Consultants."

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Phone Survey Articles

The following are additional articles that relate to phone surveying applications, guidelines and helpful hints when developing telephone surveys.