Best Practices for Voice/IVR Surveys

Best Practices for Voice/IVR Surveys

IVR is a powerful tool for communication and data collection, particularly in areas with lower literacy levels. Resulting data quality and response rates will be determined in large part on the implementation of the IVR activity, both in design & creation of the survey, and in communication to and sensitization of respondents.

Audio Creation
  1. Record separate audio files for each question
  2. Record a quick thank you message (also as a separate file), which will be played at the conclusion of the survey.
  3. Optionally include contact information of the respondent wishes to follow­up
  4. Record your source at 44.1kHz or 48Khz sample rate to a 16­ or 24­bit mono uncompressed WAV or AIFF file. For more details see this link What are some best practices for audio recordings?
    • Record clear, clean, easy ­to ­understand audio
    • Use a professional mic, if available
    • Record in the quietest possible environment, e.g.
    • A private vehicle (parked, of course) can make for a good noise buffer if no quiet offices are available
    • Recording audio underneath a blanket can reduce a huge amount of white noise
    • Beware of laptops with a loud fan
    • Choose a voice with an accent that will be easy to understand for the audience / respondents
    • Articulate clearly, and speak slower than you would in normal conversation
  5. When recording questions, clearly specify the desired response format
    • For multiple choice questions:
      • Respondents will need to answer with numbers on their keypad
      • For each option, specify the choice
      • E.g. "Are you male or female? If male, press 1. If female, press 2."
    • For numeric questions:
      • Respondents will type their answers by entering numbers on their keypad. 
      • E.g. "How old are you? Please type your age on the handset". 
    • For open­-ended audio questions
      • Respondents will respond by speaking their answer and Echo will record the response
      • Echo will play a tone after the question indicating that the recording has begun.
      • E.g. "What is your full name? Please say your name after the tone. When finished, please press pound. [ Echo plays beep ]"
  6. In the first question, provide a quick intro explaining who you are, and why the respondent is receiving the call. Including what value the call will have for both the organization and the respondent can help improve response rate. E.g. "Good morning! This is an automatic call from [ Organization ]. Please answer this brief X­question survey so we can best serve you. [ Audio for question 1 ]"
Testing the audio survey with local staff before launch is vital. Use this time to perfect the wording and clarity of the audio survey. If anyone finds any question or interaction confusing, deal with this before any real respondents receive the survey.

Run‐up and Sensitization
If existing communication channels or touch-points are available with the audience for your IVR call, use them to prepare respondents for what to expect.

For example, in a group meeting you can explain that your organization will be doing some audio surveys, and explain that the respondent will receive a call that will play a recorded message, and how to respond to the questions.

If an SMS channel is available, use it to notify respondents who will soon receive the survey of what time the call will come in, and perhaps some short text on how to respond, and the importance of responding.

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