Executive telephone interviews are an effective and efficient way to gather client feedback. They are not limited by the constraints of an in-person interview and the associated travel costs of in-person interviewing. With a high response rate, a personal touch, and the ability to gain a deep insight into a client’s opinions, executive telephone interviews are particularly suited to situations where clients are geographically dispersed.
Whilst both in-depth interviews and some telephone interviews, by design, can be free-flowing and bespoke to the client, a more productive approach is to have semi-structured telephone interviews with set questions agreed in advance. This is particularly important when content from many interviews is to be aggregated and reported upon, possibly from many interviewers and/or multiple interviewing methods (phone, web-survey, virtual (video) meetings, and in-person interviews).
By adding quantitative and qualitative interviewing techniques to semi-structured telephone interviews, it is also possible to track changes in reported feedback over time, and benchmark trends internally and externally. If sufficient telephone interviews are undertaken, the findings may be able to be generalised beyond the sample of clients interviewed. The structure of executive telephone interview, in many ways, makes it a superior interview method when compared to an in-person interview, and much better than the web survey.
The use of technology
At Acuigen a system called CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing) is used to guide the executive interviewer to ask appropriate questions, whilst allowing the interviewer to probe further into a respondent's answers - depending on the interview context, and the stage of the interview. Used well, the respondent will not know that CATI is being used in the background, as a voice recording is used to record and facilitate transcription of the interview after it is completed. CATI assists in adopting a consistent interviewing approach when many interviews are undertaken over a longer period of time, or using multiple interviewers.
The rationale for telephone interviews include:
Showing clients they are valued and that their opinion is important
Delivering similar quality to F2F interviews by allowing interviewers to probe responses to gain more insight
Facilitating a more personal approach than web surveys
Being effective during times of social distancing
Easier to undertake than a virtual interview
Reaching clients who are geographically dispersed
Allowing multilingual interviews to be easily undertaken
Being more cost-effective and easier to scale up at affordable rates
Providing a consistent interview approach when multiple interviewers are used
Allowing interviews to be recorded if consent is given by the participant.
By contrast, telephone interviews have some constraints such as:
High speed interviews by phone
By contrast, we have all probably received a random phone call at home, from a polling company (“Who will you vote for”, “Do you agree with policy ABC”, “Would you buy XYZ?”), typically these interviews are carried out at high speed. The respondent is determined by a big database randomly selecting their phone number and being contacted by the computer’s auto-dialler – the interviews tend to be very impersonal.
High speed interviews are mainly used to ensure that an appropriate number of respondents in a particular region or sector are interviewed. The interview is undertaken and documented within the period of the interview; the questions do not normally cater for open discussion to reduce the talk time on the phone.
High speed interviews differ greatly from an executive phone interview where appointments are booked with respondents enabling them to have the time to give their full attention to the interview (similar to an in-person interview). The personal touch and quality of the interview allows the collection of high-quality actionable information whilst demonstrating to the client that the firm is listening to them and their opinions are valuable.
Continue the discussion
If you’re interested in understanding the process of client feedback to a greater extent or are interested in initiating or scaling up a client feedback programme in your firm, get in touch with our team who be happy to talk further to assist you and to share our experiences.