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5 Reasons Telephone Surveys Are More Powerful Than You Think

Successful businesses are built on good customer relations and proper research is the key.

Telephone surveys became common in the mid-80s after it became clear that over 90% of Americans had a telephone in the home. Today, many people think they are a thing of the past. In a time where so many scam artists are taking advantage of telephone access, it’s easy to dismiss most calls that aren’t personal.

Telephone surveys aren’t scams, though. They’re a necessary form of data collection that assists many businesses and governmental agencies in shaping products and services that please the citizens they serve. In short, telephone surveys put the opinions of consumers to work to make a better future.

Declining Participants in Telephone Surveys

In the past, many consumers were willing to complete telephone surveys. Today’s numbers have taken a serious nose-dive. The reasons for the decline are widely debated, but all signs point to advances in technology. As consumers become more dependent on mobile phones, many homes no longer have a landline. Technically, there’s no reason that cell phones are any less useful for surveys. However, it seems that mobile phone users are less likely to answer an unfamiliar number.

With daily calls from scam artists and telemarketers at an all-time high, consumers are resistant to unexpected phone calls. Many would-be participants don’t even answer the phone when a questionable number pops up on caller ID. The ones who answer often mistake survey takers for telemarketers. Often, telephone surveys last less than 15 minutes, but many people don’t stay on the phone long enough to gather that information.

5 Reasons Telephone Surveys Are Still a Powerful Tool

Even as the number of participants declines, telephone surveys are still an accurate and useful tool. As long as the survey reaches the desired demographic, questioning fewer people overall doesn’t alter the results because an accurate percentage is represented. Telephone surveys are still used for political purposes and to advance businesses because they are effective. Before you dismiss a phone survey as an outdated tool, consider these reasons why telephone surveys are still relevant today.

1. Telephone surveys allow you to reach the largest number of people.

Nearly all adults in the U.S. have telephone access. In fact, recent research from Pew data shows that 99% of adults between the ages of 18 to 49 own a cell phone. When compared to laptop or desktop ownership at 73%, telephones have a distinct advantage. Successful surveys depend on the ability to quickly reach the targeted number of people in all demographics. A phone call is currently the most useful way to get this accomplished.

2. Participants get to talk to a real person.

You might be completely comfortable, or even happy, to deal with an automated phone system or take care of your business online. However, it’s likely that you know someone who not only isn’t happy with the idea, they simply won’t participate with a platform they’re not accustomed to. While all types of automated services have drastically improved over time, most people can cite annoying experiences of trying to reach an actual person to help resolve problems.

Whether you’re conducting business or answering questions, a real person can make the process easier. A real person on the other end of the line can answer questions, offer guidance, and prompt answers to all of the questions in a survey. Additionally, it’s not as easy to click away from or hang up when carrying on a conversation with an actual person. For some people, a fellow human on the other end of the line can even be a welcome intrusion on an otherwise lonely day.

3. Telephone surveys provide a more fully rounded representative sample.

While more than half of U.S. households have ditched the landline for completely wireless phone service, the percentage changes drastically when age is added into the equation. For a survey to be effective, all age groups must be considered, and a telephone survey is more effective at reaching all groups.

Wireless only homes follow different percentages when divided by age.

Households with adults ages 18-24: 64.2%Households with adults ages 35-44: 63.9%Households with adults ages 45-64: 47.1%Households with adults ages 65 and older: 23.9%

4. It’s the preferred choice of B2B.

While most Americans own a mobile phone for personal use, practically all businesses depend on a landline. Additionally, the complexity of business to business (B2B) relationships generally require personal communication. While a traditional business to customer (B2C) relationship depends on a single opinion (that of the customer), B2B relationships require input from multiple voices in different positions. Telephone surveys allow businesses to analyze and apply the proper weight to different responses.

5. Telephone surveys provide more complete data.

The easiest thing to do when you come to a question you don’t understand is to skip it. In fact, most people were conditioned to use the skip method as early as elementary school to save time during academic testing. Participants in an online survey are no different. When a question arises that requires an explanation or doesn’t seem relevant, the only way to the end is to go around. After all, most of the questions were answered, and the results should still be useful.

Participants in a telephone survey have the opportunity to ask questions when necessary to be able to give an accurate response. Perhaps more importantly, the surveyor has the chance to prompt participants into providing complete data for the entire study. A survey that’s confusing could quickly be abandoned on other platforms, but telephone surveys are more likely to get the full picture.

Market research depends on many techniques to get the answers you really need. While technology is always advancing, the telephone is still a major contender in the world of communication. To learn more about effective market research and how it can elevate your business, visit online at