Complex automated phone surveys as an alternative to F2F research

Christopher O’Hearn and Brenda Wortley, 3M3A

When the COVID crisis hit and all face-to-face research was halted, 3M3A was part way through a number of audits requiring checks on measurement panel homes.

Phone calls are not an easy alternative – they are time consuming and difficult in areas where multiple languages are spoken. We also foresaw a future where homes are reluctant to have a stranger visit them, especially one who has been in contact with dozens of other households.

With the support of our client in South Africa, DStv, 3M3A developed an automated call system to conduct these interviews. The complexity of information required made this a huge challenge but it was successfully completed.

This multi-level IVR, in English and Zulu, had up to 236 questions each with multiple response options covering TV equipment and HH demographics and even included a channel test. Respondents gave consistent answers and had a high completion rate which provided valuable analysis.

The ability to scale easily, accessibility, economies of cost and possibility of regular deployment make this a viable alternative to future face-to-face research with applications to other areas such as coincidental and diary surveys.