By Tulip Dolphin
“Data” mining is a new buzzword with a bad reputation. Consumers are starting to become wary about the data they share, and governments are responding. In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for upholding the information rights of the public. They accept complaints from individuals and work with organizations to make sure they’re in compliance with UK law. The ICO has the authority to issue monetary fines and to issue “stop” orders if an organization is violating the law.
Privacy laws are still evolving, but it’s expected that, among other controls, companies will soon have to get informed consent from consumers before their data is collected. Fortunately, there’s one data collection method that makes it easy to obtain (and record) informed consent and eases consumers’ fears about what data is being captured and how it will be used. In addition, it’s a great way to capture a richer level of information than can be obtained through other methods. What is it? Telephone surveys.
The interactive nature of a phone survey makes it easy to confirm that the respondent is giving informed consent to the sharing of information. The caller can explain exactly how the information will be used, whether the respondent’s name will be attached to the information, how the data will be protected, etc. He can also address any questions or concerns, and you have the recorded phone call itself as an accurate record that consent was indeed given.
Another benefit of a phone survey is that trained callers provide a level of quality control that’s not possible through internet and phone surveys. They can note the sincerity of the respondent’s answers and probe any areas of inconsistency. The only survey method with a higher level of quality control is face-to-face, but that comes at a significantly higher cost.
In static surveys, like through the post or over the internet, the question is what it is. Sometimes the respondents have to guess at the meaning and have no way to get clarification. In a phone survey, the caller can not only clarify the question, he or she can ask probing follow-up questions to collect richer data.
Sometimes people are reluctant to answer sensitive questions, especially in writing. While phone calls are recorded, people generally are less apprehensive about answering a sensitive question orally than in writing. In addition, the caller can “normalize” the behavior in question to make it seem less sensitive. For instance, consider the different spin on these two versions of a question:
● “Studies have shown that smoking leads to lung cancer and other health problems. How many cigarettes would you say you smoke each day?”
● “We’ve heard a lot about how addictive smoking is and how hard it is to cut back, much less quit. How many cigarettes would you say you smoke each day?”
Respondents are much more likely to disclose sensitive information if they’re not worried about being judged.
Phone surveys are an ideal way of obtaining consumer data. They make it easy to comply with privacy regulations, they provide data that’s accurate and rich in nuance, and they can make respondents feel more comfortable sharing personal information. Here at Seawave Media, we’re ready and waiting to help you design a phone survey that will provide exactly the kind of consumer data you need. Our professional telemarketers work the phones every day, so our information is always fresh and relevant. Give us a call today to discuss how we can help your business succeed.