COVID-19 has forced governments across the world to enact a lockdown. Economic activity aside, the lockdown has affected everyone's daily routine, their social life and the way they work (A massive chunk of the global workforce has had to transition to a work from home scenario in a very short time frame).
These factors have made people far more willing to respond to CATI surveys as they seek more human contact. Phone surveys can not only reassure respondents but also help researchers get more accurate data & insights if they stay mindful of this behavioural shift.
Expect better productivity, and more value for money
Siena College recently conducted a poll of New Yorkers about the Coronavirus, and found that on an average, respondents were spending more time on their surveys. This, along with the improvement in response rates makes it an extremely productive period for conducting CATI surveys. There’s going to be a lot less time wasted on calls that lead nowhere and you can expect a larger pool of respondents.
More respondents = more accurate data, as you won’t have to extrapolate your data to account for diverse or otherwise unreachable demographics.
Even though people are more willing to participate in your surveys, there’s a few things you can keep in mind to really make the most of this period:
Empathize with respondents as best you can - especially CATI
Humans are social creatures but we've been forced indoors during these uncertain times. It's natural for us to feel worried or anxious about the coming months. While people are more than willing to pick up the phone, interviewers conducting CATI Surveys should understand that listening deeply and offering a few reassuring words about the future would go a long way in establishing authentic communication.
Pick the right tools
Researchers have reported an improvement in drop off rates as well as response rates for both CATI surveys and online surveys. You can choose one or both depending on your objectives and field of interest. With that being said, Phone surveys have the advantage of a human touch.
With the US General election on the horizon, there’s a lot on people’s minds, making them far more likely to pick up the phone and stay on till the end of the poll. That's rich data right there so phone surveys would be better suited. As for online surveys, there can be no better proof of their effectiveness than the US govt making their CENSUS 2020 available as an online questionnaire.
Expect better participation, and tailor your questions accordingly
With a huge chunk of the global workforce staying at home, you can expect better availability i.e higher response rates. However, this may require you to tweak your phone and online surveys a little as people might end up spending more time or offering more info than you had anticipated. Remember there are going to be respondents who are new to the process and are potentially an excellent source for insights in the future as well so it's worth the effort.
Spread a little cheer - Incentivize
This isn’t the first time that online survey tools have been used to conduct political polls or government or those related to government services (Here’s a piece on phone survey software being used to collect data at scale during the US mid term poll!). However, the sheer scale of the US 2020 Census is a proof of concept of the versatility that modern survey platforms, social and market research tools have on offer. It is now possible to conduct surveys across any medium, at any scale, and glean actionable insights from the data generated, the US 2020 Census being a case in point.