Are self-completion surveys better than personal interviews?

As experts in multichannel survey software, we speak with people daily about which channels they use to run survey projects, and which channels they don’t use.

The primary difference between the most frequently chosen channels (online, telephone, IVR and face-to-face) is the presence of an interviewer. Two use interviewers, and two rely on respondents to navigate their own way through the survey.

So why do researchers choose one channel over another? Both have pros. And both have cons.

Here are a few reasons researchers commonly choose self-completion surveys over interviews:

Faster, cheaper, easier

Let’s get this one out of the way immediately: the primary benefit to running self-completion surveys is the simpler logistics. Program the survey once, then deploy it. It costs less to implement, surveys are completed more quickly by respondents at their own convenience, and they’re overall easier to manage for the survey team.

No interviewer bias or error

Assuming a researcher builds a solid survey, the questions should be interpretable in only one way. But interviewers can make mistakes, or subconsciously inject bias into the process of asking the questions. Taking self-completion surveys is entirely in the respondent’s hands, with no middle man interjecting their own interpretation of the questions or the answers.

Visualization and interactivity

Interviews (especially over the phone) are generally limited to only verbal questions and answers. Online surveys allow multimedia, advanced question types, customizable look and feel, and more. Letting respondents interact with the survey questions directly can keep them engaged longer than purely auditory interviews.

Reduced respondent biases

It has been observed in many comparative studies that respondents being interviewed could be more susceptible to social desirability biases because of the interviewer’s presence. This is especially true when interviewers are presenting personal questions or questions where respondents believe there is a ‘socially acceptable’ answer. Interviewees may self-censor or moderate their views in ways that anonymous respondents would not if they’re interacting with the survey directly.

Interviewer advantages

So are there any benefits to using interviewers? Absolutely! There are arguably even more advantages to using interviewers over letting respondents complete their own surveys. Next week we’ll look at the tremendous up-side of having an interviewer in the mix, whether it be over the phone or face-to-face. Stay tuned for that!

It will often come down to the project itself – the sample, the budget and the questions will help determine the best method. Sometimes self-completion surveys will be enough, sometimes you’ll want the added benefits of an interviewer. That’s why the most flexible multichannel survey tools offer the choice of both.

4 Reasons Survey Organizations Choose On-Site Hosting

Most organizations across the market research industry have chosen cloud hosting for their survey data storage. For them, it’s easier to manage, easier to budget for, and secure enough for their needs.

But a core group are not prepared to jump to the cloud. For them, they choose to physically control survey data centers located on company property. And we’re very familiar with their rationale, since Voxco offers one of the few professional survey software platforms that is available on-premise.

So why is this portion of the industry sticking with in-house data hosting? Here are the four reasons we hear over and over again:

1. Complete Data Control

Market research organizations manage the kind of sensitive data that is commonly protected via strict privacy regulations. That means they want to know exactly where their data is at all times, and they choose to be in total control of storage, and avoid third party suppliers.

Many of our healthcare and financial services clients need to prove conclusively that their data is protected to the letter of the law. In some situations, Canadian and European clients need to prove that data is stored within their own borders. It’s not always clear how offsite data is being stored, who maintains ownership, and who else might have access to it. That can be a real worry.

On-premise set-ups often make it easier to prove total compliance. Even when cloud companies can guarantee compliance, some IT managers feel more comfortable absorbing the risk and controlling the data storage themselves. 

2. Infrastructure Costs

Cost is always a deciding factor. It often boils down to prioritizing fixed capital expenditures over monthly operational expenditures. Monthly hosting fees can be significant for governments and large organizations with huge data requirements and numerous users. At some point, the economics tip in the favor of a fixed capital investment.

This is especially true for organizations with existing infrastructure in place for data storage in-house. It’s a very easy decision for them to select on-premise hosting for their survey software.

3. Physical Server Customization

Cloud hosting providers have existing server structures. However, in-house hardware is custom-tailored to an organization’s personal needs. This offers levels of local control, visibility, and auditability which are unattainable from cloud providers.

Retaining infrastructure control internally also allows instant fixes and improvements to how data storage is structured. The larger the cloud provider, the harder it is to request fixes or customization.

4. Internet/Bandwidth Restrictions

We’re spoiled in most of the western world with high bandwidth and uninterrupted internet connectivity. But many parts of the world are still catching up; internet and bandwidth can be slow or spotty. For these situations, hardwired internal databases are often the most productive and efficient solution available.

Sound familiar?

We get it. We work with many survey organizations who rely solely on their in-house infrastructure, and we talk with hundreds more. Some organizations we have talked with are actually returning to an in-house solution, which seems to be becoming increasingly common.

Whatever works for you. We have always believed in the flexibility of choice. Whether SaaS, on-premise or a hybrid data storage solution, Voxco is here to help. Reach out to us and let us know your situation – we’ll make it work.

4 raisons pour l’hébergement d’enquêtes à l’interne

La plupart des sociétés du secteur des études de marché ont choisi de stocker leurs données d’enquête en nuage. La gestion des données et des budgets s’en trouve facilitée et la sécurité est adaptée à leurs besoins.

Mais les groupes centraux ne sont pas prêts à passer aux services infonuagiques. Ils préfèrent contrôler physiquement les centres des données d’enquête, situés au sein même de leurs locaux. Et nous connaissons bien leur raisonnement, puisque Voxco offre une des rares plateformes d’enquêtes professionnelles qui proposent un hébergement interne.

Alors pourquoi cette partie du secteur en reste à l’hébergement des données en interne ? Voici les quatre raisons que nous entendons sans cesse :

1. Mainmise sur le contrôle des données

Les sociétés d’études de marché gèrent des données très confidentielles, généralement protégées par des règlements très stricts sur la protection des renseignements personnels. Cela signifie qu’elles savent toujours exactement où se trouvent leurs données, qu’elles choisissent d’avoir un contrôle total sur le stockage des données et qu’elles évitent de faire appel à des fournisseurs tiers.

Beaucoup de nos services à la clientèle des secteurs médicaux et financiers ont besoin de prouver de façon évidente que leurs données sont protégées par la loi. Dans certains cas, les clients canadiens et européens doivent prouver que leurs données sont stockées sur leur territoire. Il n’est pas toujours facile de déterminer la façon dont les données hors site sont stockées, de savoir qui en est propriétaire et qui d’autre pourrait y avoir accès. Cela peut représenter une véritable préoccupation.

Il est souvent plus facile de prouver le respect total des normes avec les installations internes. Même lorsque les entreprises ayant recours à l’hébergement en nuage peuvent garantir le respect des normes, certains gestionnaires de services informatiques se sentent plus à l’aise de réduire les risques en contrôlant eux-mêmes le stockage des données.

2. Coûts d’infrastructure

Le coût est toujours un facteur décisif. La priorité est souvent donnée aux dépenses à capital fixe plutôt qu’aux dépenses opérationnelles mensuelles. Les gouvernements et les grandes sociétés ont des exigences énormes en matière de données et un grand nombre d’utilisateurs, par conséquent leurs frais mensuels d’hébergement peuvent être importants. À un moment ou à un autre, l’économie penchera en faveur de l’investissement en capital fixe.

Ceci est particulièrement vrai pour les sociétés ayant déjà une infrastructure en place pour le stockage interne des données. Pour ces sociétés, il est très facile de se décider à autohéberger leur logiciel d’enquête.

3. Personnalisation du matériel du serveur

Les fournisseurs d’hébergement sur nuage possèdent des structures de serveurs déjà existantes. Cependant, le matériel informatique interne est fait sur mesure afin de répondre à leurs besoins. Ceci offre plusieurs niveaux de contrôle local, de visibilité et de vérifiabilité qui sont inatteignables pour les fournisseurs de services infonuagiques.

Conserver le contrôle de l’infrastructure en interne permet également de trouver des solutions et d’apporter des améliorations instantanées à la structure du stockage des données. Plus grands sont les services infonuagiques, plus il est difficile de trouver des solutions et de fournir des services personnalisés.

4. Restrictions de l’utilisation Internet et de la largeur de bande

La majorité du monde occidental a accès à une forte largeur de bande et à une connectivité Internet ininterrompue. Cependant, beaucoup d’endroits n’ont pas encore accès aux mêmes conditions et la connexion Internet et la largeur de bande peuvent être lentes ou irrégulières. Dans de telles situations, des bases de données internes et câblées sont souvent la solution la plus productive et la plus efficace.

Vous avez déjà rencontré ce problème ?

Nous comprenons et nous travaillons avec un grand nombre d’instituts des études de marché qui se fient uniquement à leur infrastructure interne, et nous sommes en contact avec des centaines d’autres. Certaines sociétés avec lesquelles nous avons parlé reviennent à une solution interne, ce qui semble être de plus en plus fréquent.

Peu importe ce qui fonctionne pour vous. Nous avons toujours cru à la flexibilité des choix. Que vous ayez besoin d’un stockage de données SaaS, en interne ou hybride, Voxco est là pour vous aider. Communiquez avec nous et faites-nous part de votre situation et nous trouverons une solution.

4 Most Important Factors in Survey Project Design

The bi-annual GRIT report was released by Leonard Murphy at Greenbook last week. As usual, it presents a very telling snapshot of the state of the market research industry. Which issues are important and which are less so. What is hot. And what is not.

The report surveys almost 1,600 individuals who work in market research, 80% suppliers (mostly from MR firms), and 20% buyers (clients). Some of the most interesting results come from the comparison of how both sides view the same issues.

As creators of survey software, the findings that generated the most inter-office conversation were those about what researchers felt mattered most in research project design. Specifically, this summary bar chart of the more interesting findings of respondents’ Top 2 most important factors:

Source: Greenbook GRIT Report Q3-Q4 2016 (pg. 26)

1. Research Trustworthiness

Most important to both suppliers and clients is how trustworthy the research is. And rightfully so – that’s what clients are paying for, and the insights generated are what will lead to organizational shifts.

2. Sample Quality

A direct contributor to #1 above, a full half of the supplier and client respondents chose to include in their Top 2 most important factors that the recruited database or panel needs to be of high quality and representative.

3. Respondent Focus

Somewhat surprisingly, there was a steep drop in clients and researchers acknowledging the imjportance of the amount of time that a respondent takes with the research project/survey and the focus they give it. But there were still a quarter of the researchers (and a fifth of the clients) who chose this option in their Top 2. More on this in a moment.

4. Survey Scope Clarity

The only result in the top 4 where more clients selected it than researchers, 26% of clients want to ensure that survey participants have a clear idea of the scope of the project.

Of Concern

As noted in three of the four orange highlight points in the chart above, there was a significant difference in the results that favored the researchers’ Top choice (that the research should be good) compared to those that measured respondent experience.

In addition to the steep drop off before respondent focus and clear communication of project scope, responses addressing respondent compensation and satisfaction indicators received less than 10% of researcher responses, and less than 5% of client responses! (see last three answers in chart above)

As Murphy states, “It seems the relationship between researchers and research participants has become very one-sided – what we expect from participants is not aligned with what we feel our obligations are to them.”

If you build it, they will come. Build great surveys. Communicate well with your respondents, and treat them with the respect they deserve. By keeping your respondents satisfied, you will get better results. We need to shift our focus outwards and create the kinds of survey projects that foster great results.

Download the full GRIT report HERE – it’s free and jam-packed with rich industry insights.

January Feature Updates

It’s still early in the year, but we are already making major updates to the industry’s most flexible survey software.

The beta release of Voxco Mobile Offline and its integration into the existing Voxco Online platform has triggered a round of updates packaged together as Voxco Online 5.6. This new version will further improve the intuitiveness of the navigation layout, and add a few new navigation elements that will improve user productivity. We’re communicating these changes directly with clients for now. We’ll update the blog on Voxco Online 5.6 and Voxco Mobile Offline availability very soon.

Along with the navigation improvements, we are also packaging a handful of additional features based on feedback from clients and our own internal team of survey experts. Here’s a list of the new minor features hitting with the release of Voxco Online 5.6:

Detailed notifications & execution history on tasks/distributions

When importing samples or exporting results, users can now receive a comprehensive summary of which tasks and distributions were executed. Select the ‘send notification’ option for tasks that you want to have tracked in these reports.

  • Distribution summaries: Task name, survey name, description, content, schedule, and numbers of sends and failures.
  • Export summaries: Task and file name, file size, survey name, description details, schedule, filter details, and numbers of successful imports or failures.
Adding RGBA transparency for color picker

The color pickers within the questionnaire editor and Look & Feel editor now support RGBA transparency, so that survey creators can set transparencies for selected colors within their survey designs.

Show only pending/running distributions

We have added quick filters so that you can easily see which distributions are currently being executed and which ones are still pending. This will be a benefit for surveys that have a lot of distributions.

Updated survey engine default doctype to HTML

The default doctype for the survey engine has been changed from XHTML to the more standard HTML. This doctype offers better compliance with accessibility guidelines (e.g. WCAG).

Results encryption using PGP on export tasks

When you’re exporting survey results, you can now apply PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption. Users who employ PGP encryption software can now use this method when sending results via email or uploading to an FTP. Select the ‘Encrypt files with PGP’ option (highlighted below).

Remove curly brackets and spaces from response exports

For all formats (except Open-End), survey responses are now exportable without spaces and braces – { } – for all system variables. Select the ‘Remove Curly Brackets and Spaces Of System Variables’ option:

If you have any questions about any of these, or how they work, let us know! We are rolling these updates out along with Voxco Online 5.6, and communicating details to clients directly. Plenty more information still to come on Voxco Online 5.6 – stay tuned!

4 Gründe, warum sich Marktforschungsinstitute für das On-Site Hosting entscheiden

Die meisten Unternehmen in der Marktforschungsbranche haben sich für das Cloud-Hosting für die Speicherung ihrer Umfragedaten entschieden. Dadurch können sie diese einfacher managen und budgetieren, und dies ist für ihre Anforderungen sicherlich ausreichend.

Aber eine wichtige Gruppe ist nicht bereit, sich für das Cloud-Hosting zu entscheiden. Sie möchten Zentren für Umfragedaten physisch in firmeneigenen Einrichtungen kontrollieren. Und wir kennen ihre Gründe, da Voxco eine der wenigen professionellen Umfrage-Software Plattformen anbietet, die vor Ort verfügbar sind.

Warum bevorzugt also dieser Industriezweig das In-House Daten-Hosting? Hier erfahren Sie die Gründe, die wir immer wieder hören:

1. Vollständige Datenkontrolle

Marktforschungsinstitute verwalten jene sensiblen Daten, die normalerweise durch strenge Datenschutzrichtlinien geschützt werden. Dies bedeutet, dass sie genau wissen möchten, wo sich ihre Daten jeweils befinden, und sie entscheiden sich für eine umfassende Kontrolle über die Speicherung und vermeiden Drittanbieter.

Viele ihrer Kunden aus dem Gesundheits- und Finanzsektor müssen überzeugend nachweisen, dass ihre Daten aufgrund der Gesetzesvorschriften geschützt sind. In einigen Fällen müssen Kunden aus Kanada und Europa nachweisen, dass die Daten innerhalb der Grenzen ihres eigenen Landes gespeichert werden. Es ist nicht immer klar, wie Offsite-Daten gespeichert werden, wer das Eigentumsrecht für diese besitzt und welche weiteren Personen möglicherweise Zugriff auf diese haben. Dies kann ein wirkliches Problem darstellen.

Durch Einrichtungen vor Ort kann die vollständige Einhaltung von Vorschriften leichter nachgewiesen werden. Auch wenn Cloud-Unternehmen die Einhaltung von Gesetzesvorschriften garantieren, fühlen sich einige IT-Manager wohler dabei, das Risiko und die Datenspeicherung selbst zu kontrollieren.

2. Infrastrukturkosten

Kosten sind immer ein entscheidender Faktor. Häufig werden feste Kapitalaufwendungen monatlichen betrieblichen Aufwendungen vorgezogen. Die monatlichen Hosting-Gebühren können bei großen Unternehmen mit hohen Datenanforderungen und zahlreichen Nutzern sehr hoch sein. An einem gewissen Punkt spricht die Wirtschaftlichkeit für feste Kapitalaufwendungen.

Dies gilt insbesondere für Unternehmen mit einer vorhandenen Infrastruktur für die In-House Datenspeicherung. Es ist für sie eine einfache Entscheidung, sich für das On-Premise-Hosting für ihre Umfragesoftware zu entscheiden.

3. Physische Server-Anpassung

Cloud-Hosting Anbieter verfügen über vorhandene Serverstrukturen. Die In-House-Hardware ist jedoch genau auf die persönlichen Bedürfnisse eines Unternehmens angepasst. Hierdurch ist eine bestimmte lokale Kontrolle, Sichtbarkeit und Nachvollziehbarkeit möglich, die Cloud-Serviceanbieter nicht erreichen können.

Durch die Aufrechterhaltung der internen Infrastrukturkontrolle sind außerdem sofortige Fehlerbehebungen und Verbesserungen in Bezug auf die Struktur der Datenspeicherung möglich. Je größer der Cloud-Serviceanbieter desto schwieriger ist es, Fehlerbehebungen oder individuelle Anpassungen zu verlangen.

4. Internet-/Bandbreiten-Einschränkungen

Wir sind in weiten Teilen der westlichen Welt durch hohe Bandbreiten und ununterbrochenen Internetzugang verwöhnt. Aber viele Teile auf der Welt holen noch auf; Internet und Bandbreiten sind möglicherweise langsam oder werden häufig unterbrochen. In solchen Situationen stellen festverdrahtete interne Datenbanken häufig die produktivste und effizienteste verfügbare Lösung dar.

Kommt Ihnen das bekannt vor?

Wir finden eine Lösung. Wir arbeiten mit vielen Marktforschungsinstituten zusammen, die sich ausschließlich auf ihre interne Infrastruktur verlassen, und wir führen mit hunderten weiteren Gespräche. Einige Institute, mit denen wir gesprochen haben, kehren derzeit wieder zu einer In-House-Lösung zurück, die wieder verbreiteter zu sein scheint.

Was auch immer das Beste für Sie ist. Wir haben eine flexible Auswahl immer für wichtig gehalten. Egal, ob es sich um SaaS, On-Premise Speicherung oder eine Hybridform der Datenspeicherung handelt, Voxco hilft Ihnen gerne. Kontaktieren Sie uns und schildern Sie uns Ihre Situation – wir helfen Ihnen gerne.

2017: Market Research Industry Predictions

Lenny Murphy recently compiled the annual ‘Predictions about Insights & Analytics’ list on the Greenbook blog, in which he asks 40 industry thought leaders about the top market research trends and themes that will emerge/evolve in 2017. It’s a must-read for everyone in the industry.

Like good researchers would do, it’s most helpful to look at recurring trends in responses and extracting those as truths. Certain topics came up over and over again – and that helps give an idea of where the industry as a whole feels they should most be focusing on. There are two main throughlines that stood out when reading through the full list:

  • Polling pushback. Most worrying is the expected negative blowback thanks to dropping public confidence in polling associated with a string of notable failures through 2016. The spotlight will be on us – can we improve the accuracy of population-level predictions?
  • Automation technology. Automation technology, led by Big Data and AI, is going to affect almost every element of our industry. How can we embrace the automation side of data collection in a way that still shows off the unique value of an insights professional?

The trends noted above will most likely have the biggest impact on the industry as a whole. Here’s how it breaks down:

Polling pushback
  • “In the shadow of the 2016 election season, sampling methodologies and data collection techniques need to take center stage. The reputation of survey-based data has taken multiple body blows in the public eye, and nothing short of major refactoring of how we collect data is going to heal those injuries. […] Absolute facts are being replaced with relativistic ones, which does not bode well for anyone trying to sell the truth.” Jason Anderson, InsightsMeta
  • “With the public polling misses, the increase in programmatic, and the continued mobile evolution, clients are beginning to raise concerns with frame, representativeness, and predictive value. This will bring on the next set of quality tools.” – Melanie Courtright, Research Now
  • “Triangulate to Restore Trust. Election polling aberations around the globe are undermining confidence in “traditional” research methodologies in the minds of CMOs.  […] To boost confidence, CMOs will begin seeking multiple methods of assessing the same key question(s), and value efforts to triangulate on the conclusions that can/should be drawn.” Pat LaPointe, Growth Calculus
  • “If 2016 was the year the insights industry so spectacularly and publicly got so much wrong then our first prediction is that surely 2017 must be the year that both the general public and senior executives at client-side companies turn the bright, hot spotlight onto our industry and place us all in the last chance saloon; demanding greater precision and guarantees.” Alex Hunt, BrainJuicer
Automation technology
  • “Research itself will be less linear, more agile. […] Automation of the interpretation of data is an emergent area that will complement rather than replace the skills of the insight professional. We need to realize the efficiencies we’re afforded, and ultimately add more value to the insight we provide as a result.” – Mark Simon, Toluna
  • “If researchers are to be relevant, they must commit to integrating surveys with the company’s digital profiling data in its DMP. […] Brand and comms guidance systems will become much more granular, real time, and leverage digital data as well as surveys.” Joel Rubinson, Rubinson Partners, Inc.
  • “The business of impactful insights will experience a renaissance as more clients and providers realize the power of synthesis, particularly as it pertains to the melding of research and analytics. Qualitative and ethnographic methods will continue to gain credence as will new and creative ways of visualizing insights. Leading the way will be video analytics combined with virtual and augmented reality.” Simon Chadwick, Cambiar LLC
  • “Data integration across all key marketing and sales metrics is, and will continue to be, the ultimate goal as organizations overcome the challenge of large data siloes.  Successful enterprises will recognize that while these silos are needed for data scientists, they are not meant for enterprise-wide integration, interpretation and sharing of key information.” Rudy Nadilo, Dapresy
  • “I expect the larger agencies will start making some bolder moves in [automation] leaving mid-sized companies worried. They will naturally continue to productize their offerings to fit into this new world and the interesting thing from our perspective is whether they try to build themselves or partner with automation specialists. Either way clients should be looking forward to getting faster, cheaper and better research!” Stephen Phillips, Zappistore
  • “The terms qualitative and quantitative will continue to blur as integrated approaches, new techniques, and new data sources deliver quantitative scale with qualitative flavor.” Jamie Stenziano, Clarion Research
  • ” ‘A.I.’ will assume the mantle previously held by ‘Big Data’ and before that ‘Mobile’, ‘Social Media Text Analytics’ & ‘Web 2.0’ as the most annoyingly over used buzzword in market research in 2017.” Jon Puleston, Lightspeed Research
Onwards and Upwards

So can we make the changes required to collectively move our industry in the right direction? Only time will tell, but it’s in our capability to do so. We have the insight about what’s needed. Can we dive in and make the changes that will keep market research relevant through 2017? As she so often does, Kristin Luck summarizes the state of things perfectly in her own prediction:

  • “As an industry we’re great at talking about the future of research, but really poor at actually moving away from the traditional methods we’re comfortable with and trying new things. And that’s the key to progress. If you really want to change the future of the industry you have to stop predicting, stop dreaming and start doing. Let’s “do” more in 2017.” – Kristin Luck, Luck Collective

We’re in this together – let’s make it happen! Happy New Year, #MRX!

 

4 ways survey call centers are adapting to new TCPA changes

Change is sweeping across the decades-old phone survey industry, and large survey call centers across the US are reacting in a variety of ways to the new TCPA regulations that we summarized last week.

As one of the industry’s leading suppliers of phone survey research systems and dialers in the US, the Voxco team has a unique point of view on the 2016 reality of the dialing landscape. We have a direct connection to many of the largest and most advanced survey call centers in the US, and we have talked numerous times with most of them since July 2015, when the TCPA changes were first announced.

We’ve seen first-hand how most of them initially reacted to the updated regulations, and how they have adapted in the 18 months since. Here are four distinct groups that we have observed:

1. Integrated Manual Dialing Solution

These survey call centers have absorbed the full cost of adapting and complying, and it’s already paying off. They have fully adapted by setting up a second, distinct dialing environment where they have integrated a manual dialing solution with their CATI survey software.

Based on the respondent list, these survey call centers split projects across the two environments:

  • They use an autodialing environment for dialing known landlines or for dialing mobile numbers where they have received consent to call (usually respondent panels). This environment can now also be used for some government projects.
  • They use a manual dialing environment for dialing unknown numbers and known mobile numbers.

The benefit of this decision is the ability to retain interviewer productivity by having CATI systems feed phone numbers directly to interviewers who then manually activate the dialing hardware with as little as one click. Because the dialer is integrated with a CATI survey system, project accuracy and analytical consistency are retained via native call recording, live monitoring, and dialing analytics pulled directly from the dialer.

2. Manual Dialing on Detached Phones (Analog or PBX)

This second group has their interviewers using physical telephones to manually dial mobile and unknown respondents in a separate environment from autodialing projects. When a new case is presented to an interviewer via their CATI system, they switch their focus to the physical phone, and manually dial the 10-digit number.

While the process is technically compliant, it negatively affects call productivity and accuracy, which is hurting bottom lines. Using real phones (vs. a fully integrated manual dialing system) to dial causes a huge drop in interviewer productivity – some project managers we have spoken with have told us it can add 30-50% more time per call.

With no CATI-integrated dialer to assist interviewers, project managers are seeing lower calling accuracy via interviewer misdials, and the lost benefits of built-in call recording, live monitoring, and integrated call analysis that come with dialing hardware.

3. Manual Dialing via an Existing Autodialing Solution

For various reasons, this third group is unwilling to make sweeping changes to their internal dialing environment set-up. Yes, they are aware of the TCPA changes, and try to comply with the manual dialing rules by having their autodialer prompt interviewers to physically dial mobile and unknown numbers. But they are still manually dialing from within an autodialing environment, which negatively affects the ‘evidence’ that proves those calls were manually dialed.

When projects have razor-thin profit margins, it’s hard to justify making huge internal changes but this solution really is the worst of both worlds: lost productivity via interviewer manual dialing, paired with the inability to prove compliance since projects are completed from within an autodialing environment.

4. Laying low & observing

Yes, there are still some survey call centers who when we first reach out to them, admit that they have been taking a wait-and-see approach. It’s clear that the definitions swirling around the TCPA are still fluctuating, so some survey call centers may still be continuing with no major changes, waiting for more concrete definitions of compliance.

Revenue is dropping as they avoid major new projects, and active projects are being completed using the same processes that were in place 18 months ago, including the use of autodialers. Retaining maximum productivity while accepting maximum risk. And it’s probably only a matter of time before a respondent who is aware of the new regulations pushes back.

Next steps

The new TCPA regulations are here to stay. Yet there may be survey call centers out there who are not fully compliant with the new rules, and remain at risk. And many of those who are compliant, are doing so at greatly reduced productivity by using detached phones to manually dial mobile and unknown respondents.

The TCPA regulations will remain an obstacle for many survey research studies, so it is becoming more essential by the day to move towards compliance sooner rather than later. Consider Voxco TCPA Connect, which allows a distinct manual dialing environment while retaining maximum project productivity, consistency and accuracy. Contact us to review how the process works.

Still shifting: An update on TCPA and survey dialing in 2016

Despite the FCC labeling their sweeping new TCPA changes as final back in July 2015 when they were announced, the actual dialing reality for survey call centers in the US is still shifting and settling.

The initial July 2015 ruling was a set of strict, sweeping changes that affected everyone in the phone survey research industry. In summary, it stated:

  • An autodialer may not be used to contact any mobile number in the US unless explicit consent was received from the number’s owner.
  • Dialing hardware could not be used, even if it only had the ability to be used as an autodialer, regardless of whether those features were being used.
  • The burden of knowing which numbers were mobile and which were landlines rested on the shoulders of the dialing party. If a number had been reassigned, a call center was responsible for tracking the change, and was only given a single erroneous dial to figure it out.

The ruling itself aimed to counteract an outdated reality – it seemed to be a response to the cost of incoming calls to mobile phone owners. It ignored the fact that major carriers across the United States have all but abolished the charging of talk and text by the minute in favor of unlimited anytime calls.

Another thing that seemed clear to industry analysts was that the changes were designed to dissuade fully robotic telemarketing and automated random-digit dialing. But since the changes were so sweeping and did not specify anything regarding the content of the calls, it also unfairly targeted real interviewers at survey call centers who use automated dialers to contact numbers off of authentic lists of respondents.

So naturally, the changes were not taken lightly by valid survey call centers across the nation. Industry leaders from CASRO and the MRA filed a motion to intervene. They demanded clarity around the definition of an autodialer, and sought relief from the risk of dialing reassigned numbers.

Possibly due in part to the pressure from legitimate researchers, the FCC has since announced exemption for the federal government and its contractors, indicating a shift back towards exemptions for legitimate survey call centers working on legitimate research projects.

Shortly thereafter, a closely followed TCPA court case came down on the side of the defendant. Thanks to this ruling, the hotly debated definition of an autodialer finally had a little clarity, and it shone a little more light onto the FCC’s definition. Because a real human had activated the dialing within their CATI system to dial the phone, it was not considered an autodial. The hardware used did not have the capacity to auto-dial without human intervention, and had no predictive or random number capabilities.

So it’s clear that the initially sweeping TCPA regulations are being relaxed a little to account for human-staffed survey call centers conducting valid research. More changes are still expected and being pushed for, and far more concrete definitions should soon help survey call centers better adapt.

We’re keeping a close eye on the shifting definition of the ruling, and ensuring that Voxco TCPA Connect always adapts to the legal reality. TCPA Connect is a manual dialer with no capability of autodialing or predictive dialing. It can be used as a single button-dialer that connects directly to Voxco CATI and lets human interviewers contact respondents far more efficiently than manual dialing. We offer multiple possible deployment scenarios that fit varying needs.

Designed and managed by phone survey experts, Voxco TCPA Connect will always offer the maximum productivity while allowing call centers to adapt to the 2016 dialing reality. Give us a shout to see how it could work for you.

Four New Software Feature Updates this November

november-2016-voxco-feature-updates

This month we’re rolling out another handful of helpful features that will make managing survey projects easier for our loyal users. Many of these monthly feature updates are client-requested, so don’t be shy – let your Voxco rep or support team know what new features you want to see in the future!

Here we go:

1. On-premise SAML Survey Access

SAML Survey Access is an option that is now available for our On-Premise customers (yes – we offer on-premise survey software). This will make a big difference to our on-premise users who seek an extra level of third party security when they are authenticating respondents. SAML access lets users authenticate survey respondents using a SAML claim attribute mapped to the respondent PIN. This needs to be integrated by users on their side, but now the Voxco platform will play nicely with SAML authentication providers.

2. Delete sample files off FTP

After you’ve finished uploading sample lists off of the FTP site, we’ve added a single-click option to the Import Sample process that allows for the automated deletion of the sample source file from the FTP site after it has been successfully imported.

On the sample import window, under source: FTP, there is now a check box that you can select called “Delete file after download.”

3. Saveable response variables

Users will now see that the variables they have input on the Responses page will automatically be saved when they load a new page or log off, and return later to complete what they were doing. Once the user returns to the response page, previously saved variables will be displayed as they were last left and can be edited from that point. The variables will be automatically saved on a per survey and per user basis; this should boost productivity among our regular survey programmers.

4. Survey link variables on exports

When exporting respondent and response data, a Survey Link system variable can now be added to the files. This could help users in various situations, including those who create follow-up email campaigns in separate software – the unique survey URL can now be included in the export file and imported into personalized emails that include the correct, unique survey link.

All changes coming soon

Change number 1 above is available now for all of our on-premise platform users. Contact your Voxco rep or our support team to schedule a time to update your on-site software with all of the above updates.

We’re rolling out the other three changes for our SaaS client starting this week. Call or email our support team if you have any questions about the updates and how to use them. Talk next month!

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