Most customer feedback surveys today are done either automated online surveys or live telephone interviews. There's still a few automated phone surveys (IVR) and paper surveys, but those seem to be disappearing quickly as they tend to be at a disadvantage for both cost and quality.
In general, online surveys provide low cost per response, while phone interviews are substantially more expensive but have a much higher response rate and provide higher quality data and richer qualitative feedback.
Combining these two approaches can give you the best of both worlds: a large number of survey responses at a reasonable cost, plus a more representative sample and more detailed customer comments.
Here's some scenarios where you should consider a hybrid online survey and phone interview:
- If you need more detailed qualitative feedback from your automated survey, or want the ability to ask more follow-up questions.
- If the response rate from your online survey is too low and you need to validate the results (I get concerned when the response rate drops below about 10%).
- If you need more responses in your phone interview but don't have the budget.
- If limiting your survey to either phone or online will exclude a significant fraction of your customers (for example: if you don't have email addresses or phone numbers for many customers).
There are also some situations where it probably makes sense to stick with a single survey channel:
- If your overall survey program isn't large enough to support both an online and phone component economically. The cost of an online survey tends to be relatively fixed no matter the number of responses, so a small online survey can actually be more expensive than the same number of phone interviews, and there's no savings to be realized by doing both.
- If you have high value customers where you want to always provide the more personal attention of a phone interview.
- If you don't have the organizational maturity to make effective use of the qualitative feedback offered by a phone interview. There's little sense paying for feedback you can't take advantage of.
Designing and running a hybrid survey program may sound like something that requires Ninja-level Customer Experience skills, but the reality is that it's not that much more complicated than any other ongoing customer feedback process. In the right circumstances and executed well, a hybrid survey can give you far more value for the dollar than any other survey strategy.