Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a computer based technology that enables computer systems to detect voice and touch tones using landlines or mobile phones. IVR technology has come to re-define customer service due to its ability to provide fast, easy and cost effective feedback from customers to service providers and those interested in monitoring customer satisfaction.  The IVR auto-responder is standard for most mobile telecom operators where, whenever you call the customer service numbers, you get a voice prompt asking you to dial specific numbers depending on your support query.

For the marketing research industry, the explosive growth of mobile phone use presents a new opportunity to gain access to people and data that might otherwise be inaccessible using different modes of data collection. IVR is a widely used mode for collecting large amounts of data through voice calls. This mode is especially useful in places like Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, where literacy rates are low, and respondents may not be able to read or respond to SMS-based or online surveys.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), Sub-Saharan Africa is among the regions with the lowest literacy levels at 64.0% in 2015. Over 75% of the world’s 781 million illiterate adults are found in South Asia, West Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, and women represent almost two-thirds of all illiterate adults globally.

Traditionally in developing countries, polling exercises have been carried out through in-person interviews.  However, making in-person contact with individuals with low literacy levels is often expensive and time-consuming.  Data can easily be lost, compromised, and/or fabricated. By harnessing the growing power of the mobile phone through a service such as GeoPoll, which specializes in research in the developing world, IVR and other mobile survey modes can be used reach those in remote areas and conflict zones, while achieving results that are consistent with those from more traditional methods.

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According to Market Research World,  IVR systems are often integrated with other computer based surveying platforms when used for research. This means that survey responses can be captured in many ways – from online surveys and mobile phones, to kiosks. IVR surveys are ideally suited to high volume surveys and based on the project, over traditional CATI and telephone based interviewing, as they do not require the training of survey enumerators.

Key Features of IVR Surveys

Some of the benefits of using IVR in data collection for market research purposes include:

  • Decreasing the time required to conduct a survey from months to days
  • Capturing real-time data directly from the respondent
  • Accessing millions of people regardless of geographic area
  • Effectively capturing large sets of data and analyzing trending information
  • Remotely conducting surveys in areas of low literacy rates

Considerations When Conducting Surveys via Interactive Voice Response:

  • Surveys are typically 10 questions total. Surveys can be longer based on needs but short, clear surveys have proven to be most effective.
  • Response rates for IVR can be quite low – to achieve your desired sample size, you will need a large respondent base or to partner with a company like GeoPoll that can provide sufficient sample

When conducting an IVR survey with GeoPoll, our team will provide expert guidance and assistance:

  • Survey questions can be customized to fit specific project needs. GeoPoll provides assistance in reviewing the questions and optimizing for the mobile phone.
  • Results are delivered within days of a survey run, typically within one week. GeoPoll delivers both raw datasets organized by respondent and high-level pivot table analysis.

GeoPoll’s Experience with IVR

GeoPoll uses Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or voice recorded surveys which enable respondents to answer a voice call and respond to survey questions by pressing 1, 2, or 3 on their key pad. Once mobile phone users pick up the call, they opt-in to complete the survey and receive airtime credit as an incentive upon completion.

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GeoPoll has successfully completed hundreds of IVR surveying projects in countries around the world. This direct experience has taught GeoPoll the technical and operational nuances of IVR, and we work closely with partners to ensure questions and methodology are appropriate for IVR. Use cases for IVR surveys have included conducting one-off surveys, collecting baseline data, monitoring indicators, engaging communities, and tracking beneficiaries of aid.

GeoPoll can conduct IVR surveys as part of a multi-modal project or as a standalone method in any country throughout the world, and we have expertise in conducting IVR surveys in Africa, Asia Latin America, and the Middle East.

If you would like to know more about how IVR could help you collect data from hard to reach regions, please get in touch with us by filling in the form below.

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