In my previous blog I offered some advice on the implementation of a Net Promoter Score® program within your organization. That blog created some further discussion as to which methodology is the best for NPS® data collection – telephone, online or a combination of both. The answer?

It depends.

Online data collection offers speed, efficiency, broad reach and (sometimes) lower costs. Online would be appropriate if you have a current, qualified customer contact list. If you do not have a list of your current customers or competitive customers, you’ll need to acquire a list from a panel provider who will supply profiled email addresses from commercially available list brokers. The participation (or response rate) varies greatly depending on the quality of the list, the relationship with the respondent and the list source. Client provided lists may get a response as high as 40% while a purchased list that is poorly profile may be well under 5%. Considering that the overall cost is relevant to the participation rates, online data collection may not always be the lowest cost alternative.

Since online surveys are self administered, they are also self-selected. The respondent decides if they want to complete the questionnaire, creating a sample bias. There are many potential respondents who never make the email list because they are not readily accessible or they do not have an email account. This is another source of sample bias which shows that online data collection, which has its advantages, is not truly representative of the target profile. Too many potential respondents fall through the cracks.

 

Telephone data collection (CATI) has been around for decades and is still a widely used methodology for research data collection. While many complain that it is intrusive and an invasion of privacy, the truth is that telephone data collection is a viable option for NPS. The greatest advantage of telephone is the human element – the personal contact. For a NPS relationship-type study, a telephone interview conducted by a skilled, well trained interviewer can be a very positive experience for both the sponsor client and the respondent. This is especially true when conducting NPS studies with B2B respondents, senior executives and high value customers. The interviewer becomes a representative of the company. You’re not going to get that with online data collection.

Nothing beats telephone to get directly to the voice of the customer. There is a proactive element of the personal interaction of a telephone interview that generates a high level of information. We’ve understood this for quite a while and have developed a new service called Question-Based Digital Voice Recordings (QB-DVR). This allows us to record each and every telephone interview and play them back at the question level. This is a unique and effective tool to hear the actual discussion behind the quantitative data. Now you can hear the actual voice of the Promoters and the Detractors.

 

Your immediate reaction might be that telephone date collection is far more expensive than online. Our experience has shown that a well executed, brief NPS telephone questionnaire 3 to 5 minutes in length and using a qualified client provided list can be just as cost effective as an online study. The time and effort required for the programming and hosting the online questionnaire as well as the lower response/participation rates may. in fact, result in a completed online questionnaire similar in cost to a telephone interview.

What about those occasions when the target respondents cannot be reached by email? If you are committed to an online format then you’re out of options, but if you are working with a data collection partner that does both telephone and online you have a viable solution. With the proper configurations and training, a skilled telephone interviewer is able to contact the respondent, qualify them, acquire their email address and then immediately send them a link to an online questionnaire. This works well with senior execs and high value financial customers where confidentiality is an issue.

So, you do have several options when it comes to collecting NPS data – telephone, online or a combination of both. The methodology you select really depends on the situation and the research objectives. Just be cautious that you don’t blindly select online data collection without considering all the options. Think about it and do it right the first time.

eith Chapin is a Certified Net Promoter® Associate and Consultant with over 35 years of experience in research, marketing and customer insights. He can be reached at kchapin@promotersrecommend.com

Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

 

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