A Real Phone Survey Tool for the Rest of Us

I'm very pleased to be working with Jason and Spend Matters on a new Monday blog post series highlighting some interesting tools and technologies -- some established, some emerging. Each week we'll focus on a tool and how we might use it, and ask your thoughts on how to best take advantage of the myriad technologies available. We'll discuss technologies targeted at both consumers and businesses, with a twist on examining how we might creatively apply them in a day-to-day work context. Some weeks will feature a quick tip; others, a more detailed discussion.

- Ryder Daniels, Capsaicin, LLC

For our first post, we'll take about a new beta offering from Instantloop. This basic service allows you to conduct automated telephone surveys by following a few simple steps. Before the availability of services like Instantloop, phone surveys were fairly expensive and time-consuming to conduct. With Instantloop, you can set up an automated ~10 question survey for ~50 people in about 15 minutes. Outgoing automated calls are placed in parallel, so based on the availability of respondents, you may get answers the same day, and you can view response rates and response data online. The automated voice is fairly clear to understand, and there are plans to allow survey admins to record their own greetings and announcements.

Instantloop allows you to log in with an existing ID such as for Google, Facebook, or OpenID, or you can set up your own new account. The main interface provides a multiple-choice format for you to enter questions and response options (conditional or nested surveys aren't yet available). Instantloop leverages the emerging trend of internet telephony APIs (in this case Twillo) to handle the calls, and you have the option of adding your caller ID to the outgoing automated survey to increase the likelihood that people will answer; this is verified via a PIN-protected test call to you. In my experience, the cost is about $0.50 per respondent. Of course, Instantloop can't write good direct-response questions for you; it takes some effort to think through what you want to ask, the best way to ask it, and how to phrase the multiple-choice responses. (A fair amount of guidance is available online for strategies on constructing effective direct-response multiple-choice phone surveys.) The question is when and how to use a service like Instantloop versus an online survey solution like SurveyMonkey, a no-cost option like Google Docs (in which you can create pretty effective surveys), or even a mass email. How would you use Instantloop in a spend management context? Beyond obvious external customer/consumer uses, other possibilities include:

  • Supplier Satisfaction Surveys: survey your top 100 suppliers
  • Peer/group/competitor review of suppliers to monitor overall performance and risk factors
  • Suggestions on how to improve a function or process in Procurement
  • Supplier interest in adopting new ways of doing business (e.g., participation in early payment/discount programs)
  • Internal satisfaction with a supplier or commodity
  • Feedback on a potential process change before it occurs

How are organizations conducting surveys or gathering feedback for these types of issues today? What ideas are we missing for leveraging a service like Instantloop?

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