Telephone Survey Advantages and Disadvantages in Manufacturing Market Research

Telephone Survey Advantages and Disadvantages in Manufacturing Market Research

These should be your top considerations when evaluating whether or not to conduct telephone interviews during your market research survey:

The process of conducting primary market research involves communicating directly with various industry stakeholders—from department managers and sales representatives to trade professionals and DIYers—to get their personal opinions and feedback.

There are various methods for surveying and gathering data from respondents, one of which is conducting telephone interviews.

If you’re considering this tool for your building product and home improvement market research, it’s helpful to understand the pros and cons of telephone surveys and what you can do to optimize the process.

Advantages of Telephone Interviews

As with any surveying methodology, there are both advantages and disadvantages to conducting surveys over the phone, as opposed to online. Primary benefits of telephone interviews include:

1. Better Targeted Surveys

One of the advantages of using telephone surveys is it enables you to target small, niche population groups, which is beneficial when conducting market research for building products and home improvement products.  

For example, you may want to gather data directly from big-box department store managers, associates at kitchen and bath showrooms, or lumber and building materials dealers. Phone calls allow you to narrow your respondent list down to just these relevant, and difficult to access, stakeholders.

Additionally, you can target smaller geographical areas than with an online survey. That is useful if you need to reach out to the customers of a particular store or sales representatives in a specific region.

2. Predictable Response Rates

Going into phone research you have clear visibility on the number of contacts available, and through decades of expertise, we know what the expected participation will be. You can use customer lists to reach out directly to stakeholders who are likely to respond.  

This reality results in greater predictability in response rates compared to online market research studies.  

3. Improved Validation of Respondent

This survey method not only enables you to find and talk with end users who aren’t very active in online channels, but you also can better ensure the qualification of each respondent. Since you’re contacting individuals directly to get their participation, you can ensure they meet your criteria, limiting your need to incorporate termination points in your survey design.  

If you’re reaching out to individual department managers, you can confirm their store location is in the right area or that they’re involved in making product decisions specifically for the precise product category.  

Telephone surveys give you the chance to talk to actual employees and navigate the hierarchy of a company until you get in touch with the right decision-maker or representative for your specific interview topic.

4. Better Administrate Survey Questions

Telephone surveys also allow for better administration and feedback of qualitative interview questions that are difficult to capture through one-way communication research methods.  

According to Jason Anderson, Sr. Fieldwork Manager at The Farnsworth Group, “For open-ended questions and qualitative data collection, you can delve beyond a respondent’s top-of-mind recall and ask follow-up questions to get a better understanding of their answers and more elaboration for deeper insights.”

If a question isn’t worded clearly, or respondents don’t fully understand, you get real-time feedback on those issues, as well as an opportunity to provide further explanation or clarity to successfully gather project and product level information.

5. Keep Respondents Engaged

One challenge with online interviews is that individuals get fatigued or lose interest. With telephone market research, you’re able to hedge against this. In general, having person-to-person conversations is more engaging. The interviewer can control the data-collection process and ensure each respondent is staying attentive and taking their time answering questions. This supports the collection of higher-quality data.

Disadvantages of Telephone Interviews

Telephone interviews, however helpful in many scenarios when conducting studies on niche respondents especially, are not immune to some drawbacks.

1. Phone Interviews Require a Larger Research Investment

Reaching out to industry stakeholders on a one-on-one basis for a telephone survey requires more time and effort. You must call during normal business hours in most cases, perform follow up calls as necessary to reach a target respondent, and complete, and tabulate, the interviews one-by-one.  

In general, the length of time for fielding respondents is significantly longer than with online methods. That means you can expect your overall market research costs to be higher when involving human interviewers for telephone surveys.

2. Methodologies are Restricted

Not all market research methodologies are possible via a telephone call. For example, MaxDiff Analysis, or Best-Worst Scaling, and Conjoint Analysis aren’t ideal for this style of surveying.  

Depending on the methodologies you think are best suited to your audience, survey topic, and research goals, you might not be able to use telephone interviews or you’ll have to mix multiple methods.

3. Survey Structure is Limited

Along the same lines, you can’t use the same questionnaire structure as you would for an online survey, which means some compromises will be necessary.  

For example, you can’t show images on the phone or list off two dozen attributes without your respondent losing interest. For ranking or percentage sum questions, you might need to have fewer entries than with an online questionnaire.

4. Risk of Swaying Respondents

Another challenge is what is known as “social desirability bias.” This refers to the human tendency to subconsciously tell others what they want to hear.  

In the case of telephone surveys, a respondent might want to please the interviewer or not give “bad” answers, influencing their answers and reducing the authenticity.

Fortunately, this challenge crops up more commonly in other types of polling, like political polling, as opposed to surveys related to home improvement market research, where social pressures are less prevalent.

5. Reaching Large Populations is Difficult

While telephone surveys are advantageous for reaching small, niche groups of stakeholders within a specific geographic area or connected to a particular brand, they are not well-suited for gathering data from broad population groups.  

This is mainly due to the time and labor involved with conducting telephone interviews. If you need information from a large audience, online surveys would most likely be a better research approach.

Partnering with Experts for Market Research

Even once you’ve selected the best tools and methodologies for your market research within the building products and home improvement industry, your internal team may still face obstacles when it comes to collecting customized research.  

Our team at The Farnsworth Group will provide you with over 30 years of home improvement industry expertise and specialized market research knowledge to ensure you get the valuable insights you need to make data-driven decisions for your brand. 

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