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Automated phone surveys – 5 must haves

Automated phone surveys are a cheap, scalable way to get customer feedback that provides a well-above-average response rate. A good one will get 50%-60% interaction rate.

But what makes a good one? The million dollar question. Let us share the key learnings from the countless automated phone surveys conducted by Upwire customers.


Here are 5 must haves:

1. A great voice artist.

A friendly, warm, confident and clear female voice gets responses.  Sorry, guys, you just can’t achieve the same results.

Women’s voices tend to engender trust and respondents are inherently more open to ‘hearing them out’.

Just be sure all questions are asked as clearly as possible. Remember not all respondents will be native English speakers so slow it down slightly, and make sure each syllable is nice and clear.


2. Perfectly edited voice recordings.

What you don’t want is awkward or unnatural pauses, either at the start or end of each question.

To be sure your respondents will know they’re talking to a recording. Which isn’t a problem. What is a problem is when the interaction becomes completely artificial.


3. Keep your survey as short as possible.

Without doubt, you’ll start seeing attrition after around the 5th question. This is to be expected, unless your respondents are unusually engaged in your survey.

To account for this attrition, you’ll need to re-order the questions after a certain period.  This way you’ll have adequate sample sizes for each question.

Anything beyond 10 questions is getting unreasonable.  If you genuinely need a survey this lengthy, you’ll need to let respondents know up front, and then incentivise people to complete it.

For example, you’d open with a message “This is survey will take around 12 minutes to complete.  By finishing it you will go into the draw to win a one week holiday for two.”


4. Automate re-tries for unanswered calls

Many people won’t answer an unknown number. Others will simply be occupied and unable to answer the first call.

Best practice is to automate re-tries 30 to 60 minutes apart. Don’t retry more than 3 times in a day; you don’t want to be seen to hassle potential respondents.


5. Test & learn

Do a dipstick sample to test survey completion rates. Also, speak with early respondents to get anecdotal feedback on the survey for length, clarity and ease of use.

Always be prepared to iterate.  Chances are you won’t get it right first time.

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