What are the pros and cons of telephone interviews compared to online surveys when researching construction markets?

Telephone Interviews – Pros

Telephone interviews add an irreplaceable personal touch. For Clients wanting to demonstrate how they value their customers and their opinions, in a Customer Satisfaction survey for example, it is a must. It is a means for you to put yourself at the forefront of your customers’ minds, whilst also gathering important information.

Telephone interviews are most suited to qualitative research. Once you’ve engaged the respondent, you can potentially push for extra information. You can expand upon a question when necessary or delve further into a relevant issue or idea when the opportunity arises, or gain clarification if needed. This would not be possible in an on-line survey.

Telephone interviews can be a cost effective method of conducting research in construction markets, especially if your questionnaire is lengthy and complex, where the respondent may have to clarify their answers.

Telephone Interviews – Cons

The main downside of telephone interviews is the availability of the respondent. Many of the sample will be unavailable or too busy to take the interviewers call. This means, once you have established your sample size, you must gather more contacts than you expect to gain responses for the interviewer to call.

Online Surveys – Pros

Online surveys are best for quantitative research. Large quantities of statistical data can be gathered via multiple-choice answers, with little explanation needed, making online surveys more efficient than telephone interviews. With online surveys respondents tend to give short concise answers even with open-ended questions. However you can still engage with them over the phone if you need to challenge answers further, thus enabling a higher quality response.

Online surveys are good for gaining instant responses that can be monitored as they come in. Online surveys are also a low cost way of researching construction markets.

Online Surveys – Cons

The key problem with online surveys is getting responses to the survey. Many respondents will receive a survey invite, and either put the email to one side and complete it later or see it as junk and delete it. Therefore you must consider what will not only make the survey appealing to complete, such as an incentive, but also what will make the invitation email stand out in the respondent’s inbox.

Sample size is important too

Whether it be telephone interviews or online surveys you must ensure you gather answers from a representative sample size. Careful consideration should be given to the selection criteria, so that you create a representative sample. The size of the sample needs to be sufficiently large to gather your target number of responses from the right type of respondent. For further details see our sample size document.

Conclusion

Put simply, neither type of research is better than the other. It all depends on your research objectives, whether you want to gather more qualitative or quantitative data, and who you are researching. Telephone interviews or online surveys may work well on their own for your research or perhaps it requires a mix of both types? Your chosen research partner should be able to guide you on which type or interview is best according to your objectives and what your sample should be.

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