Web-assisted telephone interviewing (WATI) surveys

Under our technology banner, we have a range of custom survey tools for online and combination research. One solution that we use for international business-to-business market research is web-assisted telephone interviewing where the research is carried out by phone, and the interviewer shows prompts or other materials to the respondent live via the web.

In some areas of research, telephone is still a better contact method than a pure online survey. For instance with difficult to reach groups such as business or medical specialists, or where live interactive dialogue is needed and online discussion forums aren't immediate enough or detailed enough. However, the main problem with telephone research is the inability to show prompt material, such as product profiles for conjoint tasks, pricing work or audio or video or imagery. Sometimes this can be addressed with static web-pages that are introduced to the respondent by email. But in situations where the prompt material changes depending on the respondent's previous answers or due to randomisation, static webpages are extremely restrictive.

Instead we use our in-house survey tools so that the respondent can see items and questions according to the page the interviewer is on, on the survey. This allows, for instance, a series of price questions tailored to the respondent's answers to be shown, or a set of specific images of brands or advertising to be shared with the respondent, for instance allowing for skip-patterns or list filters.

Normally we set the survey to be completed by the interviewer and the respondent only sees prompts as they track the interviewer (they just need to select Next>> when prompted by the interviewer. These prompts may include the questions as the interviewer reads them out for instance, or they may just contact the relevant show material for the page and the question and prompt detail (including interviewer instructions) is only seen on the interviewer's screen.

It is also possible for the interviewer to act as a prompt or guide while the respondent completes the answers on their 'end of the phone'. For instance, using sliders, ranking or other more visual method to answer the question, whilst being guided by the interviewer. The interviewer can then see the answers given and follow up with addition questions, validation or probes. This type of approach also allows a split survey, where the online part of the survey is self-completed by the respondent, but the follow up takes place by phone and the interviewer can review previous answers with the respondent.

In a more advanced mode, it is also possible in a telephone group for each participant to be completing their own individual survey on the web and for the telephone moderator to share back aggregated results, or probe for more details whilst keeping individual answers anonymous. This allows a proper mixed-mode online/offline qualitative group to develop with the immediacy and human touch of speakers on the phone, with the ability to collect answers directly on the web.

For help and advice on carrying out projects requiring web-assisted telephone interviewing (WATI) for qualitative or quantitative contact info@dobney.com