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December 2008 | Volume 27 / Number 7
Innovative SOLUTIONS

Surveys and Market Research – Using the Contact Center to Provide Knowledge

By Joshua Shale, Director of Marketing, VoltDelta and Benjamin Kupersmit,
President of Kupersmit Research

Surveys are an indispensible tool for evaluating a host of strategic issues to maximize value and minimize risk. They can be used for brand positioning and segmentation, to enhance customer satisfaction and acquisition and even to increase retention of valuable employees — the list is nearly endless. Yet businesses significantly underutilize surveying, typically for two reasons: 1) implementing a survey is thought to be expensive and cumbersome, and 2) developing a survey and translating raw data tables into actionable recommendations that yield positive business outcomes can be daunting challenges. Finding solutions to these issues can enable businesses that use Contact Center resources to assess their brands, products, target markets and internal alignment and identify ways of generating growth from loyal customers, ex-customers who can be “won-back,” prospects in new markets, and employees.

Managing the Expense

As with many expenses, technology can be leveraged to mitigate the costs of implementing surveying and research — especially the costs of training and guiding agents on surveying. Contact Centers are already familiar with the technologies and concepts required to develop and implement effective surveys and to do it cost effectively. Speech automated or even DTMF IVRs are the engine for presenting the questions and collecting the answers. Agent productivity and monitoring tools are used to monitor samples, responses, and progress of the survey. Reporting tools can take the raw data and translate it into actionable information and knowledge.

While these concepts are familiar to Contact Centers, the equipment and expertise may not be readily available. Purchasing the equipment and hiring the personnel needed to implement a survey program are clearly cost prohibitive requiring a significant capital expense and ramp-up time. A hosted solution – already prevalent in the market – is the perfect solution. The Hosted Solution provider brings all of the equipment, expertise and experience needed and does it with a minimal up-front investment and on a per-minute of use cost basis. Using a hosted solution enables Contact Centers of all sizes and scales to implement effective and efficient surveying.

Managing the Complexity

The most reliable data in market research is gathered through telephone-based Call Centers because no other method eliminates the pitfalls of self-selection inherent in online, mail and Internet-based alternatives. The ability to aim (and try and try again) for that specific potential respondent (from a representative, random sample) is vital in ensuring that survey opinions reflect all views, not just those inclined to take a survey as is likely with alternate methodologies.

Most famously, the strategic polling done by political campaigns is grounded in surveys conducted in call centers, also, corporations and non-profits utilize phonebased surveying for customer and employee satisfaction surveys, product viability and positioning, high-level qualitative “opinion leader” research, crisis-response management, segmentation studies, the list goes on.

At the same time, crafting a questionnaire, which yields data that results in actionable findings and drives core business decisions is an uphill climb for some. Retaining a strategic research consultant can be an ideal solution, particularly if an organization is already realizing the significant cost savings and efficiencies inherent in creating, managing and deploying the “data collection” aspects of research internally.

In general, a good survey research consultancy will seek to help you lay a foundation for creating, deploying and managing surveys — and using data to drive organizational and strategic decisions — in a costefficient and strategic manner. They should be focused on creating an initial “benchmark” questionnaire that addresses core, strategic issues which you will examine repeatedly over time, so you always keep a long view on overall brand strengths/weaknesses, current level of engagement among customers or employees, etc. A “benchmark” questionnaire also provides you with a framework for testing any “issues-of-theday” in the form of deploy and interpret questionnaires that can be answered on your own down the road.

As critically, a good firm will give you a clear line of sight from the questionnaire to the recommendation set (and the analysis/ deliverables in-between). You should ask questions that will give you data you can use, and consistently questioning the value of every question while creating clear expectation of the results you might get (and what you would do with that learning) is the hallmark of an experienced firm.

About VoltDelta Hosted Solutions

VoltDelta Hosted Solutions provides contact centers of all types access to leading edge technologies including a complete voice enabled survey application on the perminute used model. To learn more please go to Our new General Manager is Terry Saeger: About Kupersmit Research Kupersmit Research has provided quantitative and qualitative market research strategic consultation, including questionnaire development, analysis and presentation of strategic recommendations, since 2001. A full description of the services and capabilities we offer corporations, non-profits and organizations can be found at

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