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Using Phone Surveys to Understand Customer Pain Points

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Are phone surveys dead?

The short answer: no. However, with access to the internet and other channels of communication, phone surveys are often replaced with an email or post-chat survey. And yet, customer phone surveys remain a reliable method of collecting customer feedback and data.

Here’s a detailed guide on using phone surveys to gain insights into customer behavior, conduct market research, identify customer pain points, and improve CX.

Why Your Business Needs to Conduct Phone Surveys

A phone survey is a survey conducted via telephone calls and, in some cases, conducted over video calls. Phone surveys are conducted by various people for different purposes. But the primary goal of phone surveys is to collect data and information. Here, we will focus on phone surveys conducted by businesses to understand their customers and their pain points.

Phone surveys can help your business learn more about your target customer and market. You can use them to study market demographics, identify common issues, understand customer preferences and behaviors, and more. You can then use this information to provide customers with better experiences and products, and improve customer satisfaction.

Why is it Important to Understand Customer Pain Points?

So, what do we mean by customer pain points and why does your business need to pay attention to this? Customer pain points refer to specific problems or issues faced by your customers or prospects. These are issues that they may experience when trying to complete their jobs or live their daily lives. Or, these may be issues they face along their customer journey.

Some common customer pain points include:

  1. Convenience and Productivity — Wasting too much time on a current provider, service, or product. Lack of convenience and comfort.
  2. Financial — Spending too much money on their current provider, service, or product. Low life expectancy of the product or service. Subscription plans, membership fees, set-up fees, and so on.
  3. Process — Awkward or broken internal processes. Complicated workflows.
  4. Shopping journey — Online research. Website navigation. Checkout friction. Lack of support or information for queries. Tracking and delivery issues.
  5. Support — Not receiving the support they need at important points within the customer journey.

It is important to take time to understand and learn about your customers’ and prospects’ pain points so you can tailor their experience and offer them better solutions.

Types of Research You Can Conduct on the Phone

There are different types of customer research, data, and information you can collect through customer phone surveys. These include:

  • Market Research Surveys
  • Customer/Employee/Patient Experience Surveys
  • Assessment Surveys
  • Satisfaction Surveys
  • Risk Analysis
  • Validation/Verification

What research you want to conduct depends on the goals of your research or survey project. Do you want to survey the market? Or, learn more about your existing customers? Or, do you want to learn how your customers found out about your business? And so on.

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Types of Phone Survey Questions to Ask

There are two types of survey questions to ask customers when conducting phone surveys: short phone surveys and long-form surveys.

The type of phone survey you choose to conduct depends on your end goal. Do you need detailed answers or quick responses to simple questions? Check out our customer feedback sample questionnaire below for examples of questions you can ask customers when collecting feedback and market research.

Let’s look at the different types of phone survey questions you may consider:

Short Phone Surveys

Short customer phone surveys can be conducted during or after customer service and sales calls. These surveys are short and aim to get quick responses from customers without wasting too much of their time. Common types of short customer phone surveys include: yes/no questions and scale questions.

Yes/No questions are pretty straightforward. You ask a question and the customer responds with a Yes/No answer.

Scale questions, on the other hand, offer customers a scale asking them to measure their interaction. These types of questions can take a numerical (1 to 10) or qualitative (satisfied to dissatisfied) approach. These types of questions also give the customer a neutral option to choose from, as opposed to the Yes/No type of questions.

You can measure on a scale of 1 (extremely unsatisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied) or 1 (unsatisfied) to 5 (satisfied). With qualitative questions, you give customers a short list of varied responses such as ‘Satisfied-Dissatisfied,’ ‘Excellent-Poor,’ and ‘Agree-Disagree.’ Before asking customers to rate, inform them of the rating scale options. For instance, 1 being extremely satisfied and 10 being extremely dissatisfied.

These surveys also help with measuring and calculating your Net Promoter Score (NPS) which determines customer satisfaction and loyalty. To calculate NPS, you ask customers to answer the questions on a scale of 1-10 and divide the responses into three categories: Promoters (rating of 9-10), Passives (7-8), and Detractors (0-6).

Long-Form Surveys

These surveys ask open-ended questions and may even ask follow-up questions to get the most out of their customers. As such, these surveys may last longer than short phone surveys. Here, you are not asking a simple Yes/No or scale question but you are leaving the question open-ended so the customer is not limited in their responses.

You can ask detailed questions about the customer’s journey, pain points, preferences, behavior, product usage, demographics, and psychographics.

An example of a long-form, open-ended question is “Which alternatives did you consider before purchasing the product?” This gives you more insight into this particular customer’s journey. Even though these surveys may seem time-consuming, they can help you get additional insights and perspectives that simple Yes/No questions may miss out on.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Conducting Surveys Over the Phone

So, are customer phone surveys useful when it comes to studying your customers, their needs, and pain points? Is the time worth the work that goes into conducting such surveys? Let’s look at the pros and cons of phone surveys so you can make an informed decision.


  • Phone calls are more personal and can help the business and customers build relationships.
  • Phone surveys are relatively easy to conduct and require minimum equipment and technology. Talk to interviewees and enter data directly into a computer in real-time, and obtain results quickly.
  • Phone interviews are a great medium to get responses to open-ended questions and follow-up questions.
  • Research and data can be collected quickly since phone surveys are quick and immediate.
  • Most people have access to phones (landlines or cell phones).
  • Phone surveys are more effective than web or email surveys.
  • Phone surveys have a relatively higher response rate than web or email surveys.
  • Trained and professional interviewers can easily secure responses and participation from customers.
  • Data and research collected can be quickly used to develop better customer experiences (CX), products, and services.


  • Some customer phone surveys (especially if the customer does not know or use your service) may come across as telemarketing. This can influence the response rate.
  • Customers are less likely to answer calls if they do not recognize your business’ phone number (especially an international or out-of-state number). This can be easily rectified with an outbound call service (more on that below).
  • Phone interviews may not be as personal as face-to-face interviews.
  • Phone surveys are bound by time constraints; phone surveys should stay under 15 minutes.
  • Research is needed to determine the best time to make business calls. Calling during odd or off-hours can lead to lower response rates.

How to Measure Customer Experience (CX)?

There are various ways to accurately measure CX and customer satisfaction. You will need to decide what metric and methodology you will use. Then, you conduct the surveys and note down customer responses. Some metrics and methodologies to consider include:

  • Yes/no questions — Were you satisfied with the service you received? (Yes / No)
  • Numerical — How satisfied were you on a scale of 1-5, 1-10, etc.
  • Qualitative — Very satisfied, neutral, very unsatisfied, etc.
  • Open-ended questions — Why did you decide to use our service?

Once you decide what types of questions to ask and how to collect customer data, you can start conducting phone surveys.

Grab our sample questionnaire for a list of questions to ask customers when conducting phone surveys to measure customer satisfaction.

Customer Phone Surveys: Best Practices to Keep in Mind

How effective your research will be is based on how well these phone surveys and interviews go. For this, your survey teams need to be prepared and trained well. Here are some tips to consider when conducting phone surveys and training your survey team:

  1. Have a goal and purpose in mind.
  2. Use a reasonable sample size.
  3. Keep the interview short.
  4. Start by explaining the process of the interview.
  5. Establish time expectations.
  6. Keep the questions and answers simple.
  7. Make it measurable (limit open-ended questions, if appropriate).
  8. Consider sending out other surveys as well such as email, web, and chat surveys.
  9. Emphasize being personable and professional during the interviews.
  10. Make survey results available, when appropriate.
Download Your Free Phone Survey Sample Here
Questions to ask customers when collecting feedback and research.

Survey Questionnaire download

How to Conduct a Phone Survey to Collect Customer Data

Now that you know the benefits of conducting customer phone surveys to understand customers and their pain points, let’s go through the different steps involved in conducting a phone survey.

1. Decide on Survey Goals

First, have a thorough discussion on the goals and purpose of the survey. Don’t just conduct a survey for the sake of it. Take time to discuss what you want to achieve through this survey and how you will go about gathering this information. Make sure your research team and those conducting the surveys are on the same page.

2. Choose Target Audience

Next, choose the audience or market you want to research. This depends on the goals you have for each survey. Go through your email and subscription contacts and customer lists to create a shortlist of the target audience for each survey. You may even use existing market research to identify good participants for the survey. Then, share this list with the survey team.

3. Prepare the Questionnaire(s)

Based on the results you want and the types of customers you will be researching, prepare and share a phone survey questionnaire that agents and employees can use when conducting phone surveys. Run through these questions with them beforehand and show them how to input responses into your content or project management system where the research team can access the collected data.

4. Get Local Phone Numbers

Depending on your business coverage and expansion plans, you may even consider getting toll free and local phone numbers to conduct research and collect data. These numbers are more recognizable than international or out-of-state phone numbers. And will increase the chances of customers and prospects actually answering your calls. An outbound calling service enables your team to make outbound calls with a custom caller ID to improve response rates. Want to learn more? Speak with our experts today!

5. Make Calls and Collect Data

Finally, start making calls, conducting interviews, and gathering data. Remember, the work does not end here. What are you going to do with the data you have collected? How can you use this information to improve CX and retain more customers? Don’t let this data go to waste. Create action plans to make your customers more comfortable in their customer journeys by reducing their pain points when interacting with your business.

Want to Learn More About Business Phone Solutions?

Global Call Forwarding has various business phone service options that can help your business conduct market research and collect customer feedback. Browse through our blog posts or speak with our team to learn more!

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