Smart Consult & Research - Enhanced Insight

Different Survey Delivery Methods

Surveys are an effective way to gather information and feedback from a large group of people from different backgrounds. An earlier post gives a general introduction to surveys.

They can be administered (delivered) in a variety of ways, including face-to-face, by phone, online and and via hardcopy (paper). Organisations should as part of their research consider their sample group, those individuals identified to participate in the survey, to determine the optimal method or methods which would encourage the greatest response.

Self-administered including online surveys have proven popular in recent years, although surveys by text and paper are still frequently used especially by the NHS.

All require planning to be delivered effectively and efficiently. Some of the main methods are listed below. 

Interview Methods

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Computer-assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) follows the survey question format but involves an interviewer discussing this with the participant. Like face to face interviewing this is a useful way of engaging an audience as any queries or clarification can be addressed immediately.  Interviewers need to be skilled even though they are following a script and keep to the allotted interview time to ensure that the total sample group is surveyed within the given data collection period.  Available software makes this a straightforward method to collect data.

Another less often used telephone method, allows the participant to call a dedicated phone line and answer questions using a touch-tone phone.

Face to Face

Face-to-face surveys are the most personal and most effectively used when trying to obtain in depth information on a subject or topic. Experienced interviewers are essential to engage with the individual as there is the potential especially if a sensitive topic, that answers may not be as accurate as those where the individual completes the survey themselves. Interviewers are also tasked with keeping on topic to ensure that all set questions are answered.

The advantages of this method include: the interviewer rather than the individual logging the answer to questions. It can be used in a variety of formats from on the streets, interviewing the general public or at a particular venue or site, thus allowing access to the sample group directly. Conversely, they can be time-consuming to arrange if booking appointments to meet with participants.


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A copy of the survey is emailed directly to the sample group. It is completed either in the electronic document or by hand (document printed, handwritten, scanned) and returned by email. This direct method easily allows for reminders for non-response, as a consequence it can prove difficult to guarantee anonymity.

Paper / Postal Mail

Is the most traditional method and used by government agencies and organisations alike.  Uses can include from registration for a census, electoral roll or feedback from employee training to customer satisfaction. The paper survey is a good option to deliver face to face or even by post as it targets the sample group directly and can allow anonymity unless there are unique identifiers included in the survey.  

Disadvantages can include low response in returning the survey to where it was issued or through the post.  Technology mitigates the time factor, another potential drawback by allowing the survey answers to be collated straightforwardly.

Online - Webpage

The sample group can access the online survey through multiple means.  A link to the survey can be sent via email, social media, an advertisement, etc which directs the individual to a web page or app to complete it. This is one of the most efficient and cost effective ways of administrating a survey as the participant chooses the time to complete, accessibility issues are easily addressed, and data collection is automatic through the survey portal. 

One limitation is if the survey is open access and not specific to a cohort or organisation, there is the potential that some responses do not address the survey questions, do not complete the survey in full or organised responses are submitted.  However, analysis of results will indicate this and other findings in the final report.


Surveys are beneficial tools that can help organisations learn about opinions, behaviours or individuals (customers, employees and stakeholders for instance) They can drive change or improvement within the organisation, a product or policy. When administered based on frequency, organisations can: obtain greater insight on an issue, product, current or past event. There is also the ability to collect data from the same group or cohort over a period of time leading to greater understanding. The uses and application of surveys are endless.

Contact Smart Consult if you would like to obtain the benefit of deploying a survey within in your organisation or for a research project

Should you have a research project or request for proposal that you wish to discuss, then please submit the request below.

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Post Excerpt

Surveys can be administered (delivered) in a variety of ways, including face-to-face, by phone, online and via hardcopy (paper). Organisations should as part of their research consider their sample group (individuals identified to participate in the survey) to determine the optimal method or methods which would encourage the greatest response

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