Technology from Database Systems Corp. lets you develop IVR survey applications using our interactive voice response IVR solutions. Surveys can be initiated by outbound phone calls or can be a response to callers. Using our PACER and WIZARD phone systems with the Smart Message Dialer and survey software, we can call your survey prospects and play a highly focused and custom greeting. We then can give your survey audience the option to take your survey or even talk with a representative, leave a voice message, hear additional information, or simply decline to participate in the survey. The survey can accept touchphone response or can record each question response for later analysis.
To view more information regarding our automated phone applications, please visit our Automatic Phone Survey solution web page.
Best Practices of Mail and Phone Surveys
The following is an article relating to call survey techniques and products and services in our business.
From: American Business Media
Types of Questions
Closed-ended ("aided") questions ask the respondent to choose among answers provided in the
survey. Mail surveys with closed questions get a higher response rate, because they are less
demanding of respondents. Closed-ended questions simplify the data handling stage because
tabulation and coding are easier. The end result is quantitative information that is more easily
translated into statistical market research data.
An effective closed-end-question survey depends on intelligent questions and the best possible set
of answers, so the design stage can be complex. Industry experts can provide input as to the best
answers for the questions.
Multiple-choice questions (yes/no/maybe; strongly agree/agree/disagree/strongly disagree;
choosing answer(s) from a list) are the most common.
Rating questions ask the respondent to assign an individual rank (e.g., on a scale of 1 to 5) to each
item in a series. Respondents often give the same rating to each item, especially when they note
their satisfaction or review the performance of the product. Their satisfaction with one
performance area may be reflected overall.
Ranking asks for comparisons among items in a series; each item must be assigned a different
ranking (for instance, best product to worst product). To avoid prejudgments, ask ranking
questions early in a survey, and limit the number of ranking questions and the number of items in
Open-ended ("unaided") questions ask respondents to express their own answers through word
association or sentence completion. This format lets the respondent volunteer unexpected or indepth
answers. Open-ended questions yield qualitative data about attitudes and behaviors, and can
help target specific concerns. Unfortunately, they don't work well in mail surveys, where the
researcher has no opportunity to expand on a respondent's answer. Mail surveys that ask openended
questions often suffer from low return rates, inconsistent results, and statistically invalid
market information. However, open-ended questions can be useful when you interview an expert
about what information your survey should provide, or when you're pre-testing a questionnaire
and want feedback.
Questions can also be described as direct or indirect. (The same survey can include both types of
questions.) Direct questions ask about the individual's own behavior. EXAMPLE: "What is your
favorite television program?"
Indirect questions ask about other people's behaviors or tendencies–but the respondent's attitudes
are manifested by his or her response. EXAMPLE: "How do you think most people feel about
assisted suicide?" If you sense a built-in bias or prejudice, indirect questions can draw out
feelings that respondents would hesitate to express directly. EXAMPLE: Direct question: "Do
you trust your physician?"; Indirect question "Do you think most people trust the medical
Guidelines for Effective Survey Design
- Stand out from the competition. Be personal and salient
- Anticipate issues
- Organize your ideas to ask the most revealing questions
- Make the survey flow naturally: ask questions in a logical progression
- Number all the sections of the survey; it's easier to follow that way
- Don't ask more questions than you need to get the crucial information
- Don't ask for two pieces of information in a single question EXAMPLE: "Are you satisfied
with the vehicle's safety record and level of performance?"
- Avoid leading questions, or questions that are biased in any way EXAMPLE: "Is the
government effectively controlling violence in the country's school system?" is a better
question than "Do you feel the government should take further steps to control the evergrowing
problem of violence in the country's school system?"
- Start with easy questions, move on to harder ones, to attract the respondent's interest and keep
him or her interested
- To promote interest, mix response formats (e.g., scales, rankings, multiple choice)
- Start with general questions, move on to more specific questions. EXAMPLE: Question 1:
Have you eaten lunch at a fast food restaurant during the week?
Question 2: If yes, what did you order?
- Explain how to answer the questions (for instance, "Circle only one response"; "Check all that
apply"; "Rate these factors on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is Most Important and 5 is Least
- If you use skip patterns (EXAMPLE: ask for a "yes" or "no" answer, followed by "If yes,
please continue, but if no, skip to question #7"), use shading, spacing, or color schemes to
direct the respondent. Landing points after a skip should be clearly marked and prominent on
the page. Don't frustrate respondents by making them search for the skip point.
- Avoid professional jargon, slang, and abbreviations when drafting questions
- Define terms the respondent may not understand, keeping cultural, regional, and technical
factors in mind
- Use visual aids (charts, diagrams, etc.) or explanations to clarify difficult questions
- Choose type, paper, color, and other design elements to make the survey instrument look
professional and attractive
- Use 8.5" x 11" paper or smaller; larger sizes look too cumbersome and will cut response
- Reassure respondents by using familiar color product or company logos
- Ask questions that respondents can answer without consulting other sources or solving
- Consider rewording questions that ask about age, income, or other sensitive subject
EXAMPLE: Can your family afford to take a vacation within the next 12 months? versus "Is a
family vacation planned within the next 12 months?" If you need the information from the
sensitive questions, defuse the impact by asking them toward the middle or end of the
- Review the questions against your research objectives.