Why We Still Like Phone Interviews


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While we at Vocalabs provide a variety of customer feedback channels to our clients, we still think phone interviews are often the most important tool when it comes to using customer feedback to actually drive change in an organization.

That may sound strange in the year 2017. Isn’t everything supposed to be online and automated now? Aren’t phone calls going the way of the carrier pigeon? And what about those millennials?

Here’s why we think phone interviews are not only still relevant, but often the best survey tool for improving customer experience:

  • People still respond to phone interviews. Response rates for email and online surveys have been dropping for years, but remain significantly higher for phone interviews. Customers are more likely to respond to a request from a living, breathing human being than an automated email dropbox. And, yes, millennials do still use their smartphones as phones from time to time.
  • Phone interviews capture depth and nuance. In a two-way conversation we can ask follow-up questions, and the audio recording captures not just what the customer said but how they said it, giving emotional depth and a deeper understanding of what happened.
  • Employees respond to audio feedback from real customers. Hearing a customer tell their story packs an emotional punch you just can’t get with written feedback and numerical survey scores. People respond and are more inspired to change when they hear how the customer experience affects individual customers.
  • Phone interviews can be in the moment and real-time. Often you want customer feedback after a specific customer experience, like a customer service call or purchase experience. Calling the customer on the phone lets you get feedback immediately, not when the customer gets around to it.
  • Person-to-person contact shows you care and creates a positive brand impression. Making the effort to have a real human being follow up with a customer sends a powerful message that you actually care what they have to say and their feedback won’t just disappear into the machine.

Of course no one solution is always the right answer in every situation. Our experience with phone interviews is that if you want to collect feedback your organization will actually listen to, then most often than not phone interviews are the way to go.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peter Leppik
Peter U. Leppik is president and CEO of Vocalabs. He founded Vocal Laboratories Inc. in 2001 to apply scientific principles of data collection and analysis to the problem of improving customer service. Leppik has led efforts to measure, compare and publish customer service quality through third party, independent research. At Vocalabs, Leppik has assembled a team of professionals with deep expertise in survey methodology, data communications and data visualization to provide clients with best-in-class tools for improving customer service through real-time customer feedback.


  1. Agree with all of your points. One additional note re. depth and nuance. Well-trained phone interviewers have the ability to ‘branch’, that is probe for sub-surface detail and meaning when a respondent offers that opportunity during the interview, giving the organization added open-end insight.

  2. Hi Peter: I believe the outcomes you described can be achieved when those you contact are sitting at a desk at a time they can conduct an interview. With mobility, it’s challenging make assumptions about where a contact might be or what they might be doing when the phone rings, plays music, or whatever.

    If my own experience is typical of the “average” contact, in any given month, 25% of time I receive incoming calls I’m working in a quiet space and it’s convenient for me to hold a conversation, 50% of the time it’s borderline (which usually means I’m less willing to indulge a stranger in answering survey questions), and in 25% percent of situations, my phone rings at the worst possible time, like when I’m getting ready to make a left turn onto a busy highway, or conversing with an important client at a restaurant. Then I wind up cranky and kicking myself for not deactivating the ringer.

    Do you find that the people you reach via phone are impacted by any of these issues, and if so, how do your agents handle it?

  3. Agreed………..with the “right approach” customer contact can add huge value. I agree with Michael’s comments….however this “probe-phase” could backfire is not handled correctly.
    In todays world of emails / voice answering etc the lack human contact factor can do more damage than good….

  4. I agree with all these points, but the phone interviewers would ask an appointment before to call maybe by sms, because most of time I receive those calls at midday when I am so busy with my daily work, and all my answers are yes, yes just for let him finish. Secondly the questions are always the same when the company services don’t perform well. It seems all their clients give the same answers or they don’t consider their research’s results. It would be good for a company to make these calls and consider what it said by the people interviewed. Thank you


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