Are Modern Surveys Reverting To Conversations?


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Source: Wizu

The latest technique in the feedback industry is to use a conversational user interface to gather responses rather than a traditional form based survey.  This conversational / chat interface has risen to be the de-facto standard now for text messaging and most applications where two-way communication is involved.   An example survey is shown below:

The conversational user interface is not new obviously, but using it to gather feedback is new.    However, collecting feedback through verbal conversations is as old as feedback itself: you could imagine the inventor of the wheel having conversations with other cavemen as to whether it was a good idea or not!

So how do modern conversation surveys compare with existing data collection techniques used in market research such as form based surveys, telephone interviewing, face-to-face interviews and executive interviewing?  The table below compares the techniques.

Form based web surveys Telephone interviewing(CATI) Face-to-face interviewing Executive interviewing Conversational Surveys
Intelligence * ** **** ***** ***
Scale ***** *** *** * *****
Depth of insight * ** *** ***** ****
Interaction * ** *** ***** ***
Survey experience * ** *** ***** ***
Cost/Client effort * *** **** ***** *
  1. Intelligence is defined here as demonstrating an understanding of the response and asking appropriate follow up questions

Survey chatbots can have some intelligence – here at Wizu, we use AI in some use-cases and are looking to add more Artificial Intelligence over time.  This will increase the depth of insight when more intelligence is combined with existing customer data to provide a better context for the conversation.

Form based surveys and conversational survey have the distinct benefit of being able to scale to huge numbers at a fraction of cost of using human interviewers.

Conversational Surveys can also interact with the respondent in a similar manner to a human telephone interviewer.  This may be surprising to some but we have customers that have extended the survey to embed video, collect stories and build out an entire customer entertainment experience that also happens to collect data.

Figure 1 – how conversational surveys fit into the existing survey data collection landscape

Using conversations, both chatbot and human, has many advantages when applied to the surveys

  • the respondent has a two-way interaction and gets something back in real-time. This encourages respondents to complete the conversation and not quit out half way through.
  • more opportunity to add to the entire customer experience with implications for future revenue through customer loyalty and advocacy.
  • everybody is familiar with how conversations work including the very old and the very young
  • real-time intelligence (human or artificial) can be used in a natural, conversational way to ask intelligent follow up prompts and demonstrate some level of understanding. This gives the respondent the message that the responses are understood, valued and will be used.


The low response rate for current web based surveys shows us that respondents are rejecting the traditional form based survey.  Indeed, response rates are so low, some organizations are reverting to telephone interviews again in order to get some feedback of reasonable quality.   The advantage conversational surveys have over human led interviews, is the ability to create a consistent survey experience at scale.

As is often the way, there is nothing really new here, the new modern conversational surveys are simply reverting back to using the proven technology of ‘conversations’.

Martin Powton
I have over 13 years' experience in digital marketing and am interested in all areas of marketing, customer experience and employee wellbeing.


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