If you're a CATI supplier or interviewer then, of course, CATI surveys still have a role to play in market research. They're great for polling or one-off usage and attitude surveys; but the simple fact is that CATI surveys are becoming less relevant and less prevalent. New solutions are needed in a time when use of landline phones has plummeted (nearly one in five of the UK population now live in a mobile only home), when customers are less tolerant of poor service experience and brands want immediate alerts when things go wrong. My view may be a bit one-eyed but there are compelling reasons why real-time Voice of the Customer feedback is the answer. Here are nine of them:
- Focused on the transaction - automated surveys (IVR, SMS, email, Web) can be delivered within seconds of the completion of a transaction. The feedback is fresher and more focused on specific issues. For service industries, where brand perception is shaped entirely by the experience, this immediacy of feedback is vital.
- Real-time reporting - in the bad old days CATI fieldwork analysis took a good few weeks and the client saw a presentation 3 to 6 months later. Things may have moved on a bit but nobody can wait months to learn about and fix customer service deficiencies. Customers are becoming less tolerant of poor service and more inclined to tell their social circles about it. You need to move fast to ensure your customer experience remains world-class.
- Short and to the point - Automated surveys can be shaped to individual transactions. The question set for contact centre surveys are relevant to customers who make calls; just as the web-exit survey is relevant to the online prospect. By keeping surveys short and to the point you ensure better completion rates and more relevant feedback.
- Robust sample sizes - The cost of using a human interviewer is considerable. Automated surveys can be delivered for a fraction of the cost and so significantly greater numbers of responses can be gathered. Larger sample sizes mean your research insights come with much higher confidence levels.
- Always-on - CATI tends to be a 'once-every-so-often' exercise which cannot accommodate the vagaries of seasonality (increased customer demand at certain times of the year or reduced resource in the holidays) and of events (bad weather producing a surge in insurance claims). Automated surveys can be always on, giving you a continuous picture of customer perception that will quickly identify trends, peaks and troughs.
- Flexibility - If the feedback you receive suggests changes to the survey structure are needed these can be made smoothly and swiftly. All surveys are launched from the same platform and there is no need to contact and re-brief home-based interviewers. New surveys can be run in parallel with the old to ensure the integrity of findings.
- Automatic alerting - when a customer expresses dissatisfaction an automatic ‘red flag’ alert can be triggered. Alerts can be prompted by negative scores or by pre-determined words from both IVR and email surveys. Customer recovery teams can intervene to address the issues and win-back the loyalty of the customer.
- 'Stuff' happens – for me the biggest advantage of automated IVR over CATI is the simple fact that it prompts action at every level all the time. CATI surveys tend to be set-piece affairs where the reporting is carried out at given points in the year. Because of this infrequency analysis looks for the 'big' solution where often none exists. (And if it does it takes time and cost to implement. With real-time reporting you can be making marginal gains each day which (in the time you’ve waited for your CATI agency to report) adds up to significant benefit for your business.
- The whole company is involved – realtime feedback delivers insight direct to everyone in the business all the way down to individual agents. Insight is no longer the preserve of the research team; the means of making service improvements is available to everyone in the organisation. People become empowered, action happens, cultures change. It's powerful stuff.