A while back we blogged about phone surveys, and argued that they do not have a place in technology market research. Several comments were made both in the blog comments and to us directly that made us realize that there is confusion about the difference between phone surveys and in-depth interviews (also called IDIs). Here’s how we view this:
Phone surveys and in-depth interviews are similar because:
- Both are conducted over the phone.
But that’s pretty much the only similarity.
The differences between phone surveys and in-depth interviews:
Phone surveys: A quantitative research method that includes a large numbers of participants.
- Capture input to a common set of questions with pre-set answer options
- Administered by a phone survey professional that has a pleasant voice and is trained not to guide the responses of the participants in any way
- Are usually short: 5-20 minutes as rule of thumb
- Usually no incentive is given to participants, although there may be a small amount given.
In-Depth-Interviews (IDIs):A qualitative research method that uses a smaller number of highly select participants.
- Screener is written to allow significant discovery, open-ended questions, and drill-down
- Administered by a trained moderator who is versed in the client’s business, the goals of the research, the topic of study (in our case technology) as well as techniques for putting the client at ease and getting the kind of feedback desired
- Usually longer: 30 minutes to 1 hour is common
- Typically generous incentives are given to participants to compensate them for the time commitment
An easy way to think of the differences are that phone surveys are pretty much like web surveys, but conducted over the phone. Given these definitions, we stick by our earlier recommendation that phone surveys have no place in technology market research. They are significantly more expensive to conduct than web surveys without adding value in a corporate IT study (although agree that there are audiences phone surveys are appropriate for).
That said, there is nothing inherently wrong with phone-based research. In fact, in-depth telephone interviews have become one of our most valuable research methodologies, particularly as clients become more global and travel costs are becoming more of a factor in evaluating research budgets.