The use of sample quotas is a common practice in most telephone surveys. Typically, quotas are employed to ensure a specific sample composition.

At a minimum, basic quotas specify how many respondents you want to include in your final sample. However, sample quotas can also be incredibly complex. More sophisticated survey software allows you to build a quota structure based on a combination of factors, such standard demographics but also other attributes like household income, shopping habits, political views, etc.

While most readers are likely aware of the definition of a survey quota, let us elaborate here to ensure clarity:

What is a sample quota in a survey?

A survey quota is a set limit on the type or kind of respondents that can respond to your survey. These limits are typically set in order to produce a study with a data set representative of the target population.

It is one thing to set your quotas, it is another to efficiently manage your interviewing process as you aim to fill those quotas. When applied correctly, quota management tools can help survey call centers save valuable resources and maximize the chances of successfully completing interviews.

Below, we’ve outlined the key questions you need to ask yourself about your phone survey software to ensure that it is helping you manage your sample quotas in the most optimal manner possible.

quota management

Ready? Read on here:

First and foremost, do you have flexibility in managing sample quotas?

Starting with the most obvious, you want to work with a software that allows you to set and manage virtually any number of strata to match the goals of your research. For instance, a Voxco client within the banking industry is running a phone survey — across its 450 regional branches — that includes over 2,000 strata!

In addition, you should have the ability to pre-load quotas before you embark on the research, and then be able to modify them based on information collected during the research process. If you are having trouble filling a quota cell, you may want to adjust your criteria mid-study without interrupting field work.

Does your system help interviewers focus on the right cases at the right time?

A good quota management system will automatically enable your interviewers to fill quota cells in an efficient order. For example, if your target respondents are in multiple time zones, it is crucial that they are called at the appropriate time of day. Calling respondents in Pacific Standard Time from Eastern Standard Time can be tricky if not dealt with correctly, of course! Your software should be able to release the local phone numbers at pre-set times by automatically opening and closing regional stratum.

The reality of the industry today is that margins are increasingly thinning and response rates are decreasing. It has never been more important for survey call centers to reach the right person at the right time.

Does your system help match interviewers to respondents?

While quotas are often referred to in the context of filtering respondents, they can also be used to create a match between interviewers and respondents. If there are interviewers with special skill sets, like speaking a different language, they can be assigned to certain quota cells that include respondents who also speak that language.

In other cases, if you’ve received a lot of respondent refusals, you can assign those cases to your interviewers that you know are high converters.

Matching the right interviewer to particular respondents can help you more quickly fill your quota requirements.

Can you compensate from quota challenges?

Unfortunately, sampling does not always go according to plan. Ideally, you’d want a dataset in which your respondents fill your sampling requirements. However, this is often difficult to find, so dynamic weighting can be applied to get the desired ratio.

Having access to load balancing features, like dynamic weighting, allows you to ensure that your research is truly representative of your sample population.

For more information, please contact:

Helene Fleischer
Voxco Survey Software

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