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Don’t leave researchers hanging on the telephone

I read your article, Time to hang up on phone surveys (Money Marketing, September 18), with extreme interest, not least because Defaqto is currently in the middle of a big and very important piece of independent research being conducted with IFAs.

I fully acknowledge the validity of the suggestions made in the article for refining how IFAs are surveyed but it is important to note that the research methodology employed is determined by the aims and objectives of the project.

Unfortunately, this does mean that the research methods for one project may not be suitable for another. For example, the suitability of the use of incentives and/or selecting specific individuals to participate. In addition, if a key aim is to guarantee a certain number of interviews, a telephone survey can provide more control over response rates compared with, say, an online or postal survey.

Last, while a workshop or focus group environment may work to explore reactions to product concepts, these may not be as effective in gathering more open and honest opinions if participants are discussing more sensitive issues in the presence of their peers.

With regard to the interview length (which can indeed be an issue for bigger surveys), it is standard practice to always inform the interviewee at the outset how long an interview will last and, if inconvenient, offer to arrange a more suitable time to call back to conduct the interview. Individuals can also refuse to participate but, of course, we would not advocate that strategy.

The research we undertake with IFAs is integral to providing truly independent industry insight, so we very much consider this to be a two-way conversation.

Defaqto regularly conducts independent research with IFAs across the UK and we fully appreciate that they are extremely busy individuals and can become weary with being over-surveyed. This is an issue that faces the research industry as a whole, regardless of the target audience, and unfortunately it is difficult to avoid as it is unlikely that companies will be aware of any other research that may be running concurrently.

I would like to reiterate that all the issues raised in the article are completely legitimate but can often, regrettably, be unavoidable. Of course, we hope that IFAs appreciate that independent research is vital to understanding their views on various industry issues and that they continue to contribute their valued and highly important opinions to any future research projects that they are invited to participate in.

Gareth Barton

Principal consultant, market research,

Defaqto

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