Live question and answer interviews were once the mostaccurate form of information gathering available. But that fact has radicallychanged over the past twenty years. Telephone surveys, direct mail, and especiallythe internet have all but destroyed this once, all-powerful form of surveys. Although time consuming and costly, the face-to-face surveymethod collected data that was practically looked upon as scientific fact.Arguably true, interviews were the most reliable form of surveys at one time, andthey were considered to provide the most accurate data because the questionscould be lengthy and the interviewer electric pallet truck could get a more in-depth response fromthe subject. The initial decline of face-to-face interviews began withthe evolution of mail and telephone surveys. Those two forms of survey-taking,along with ever-increasing labor costs, began a new era in which detailed, information-gatheringsurveys were conducted over the phone or through traditional mail. The drivingforce for abandoning face-to-face interviews was simple: cost electric pallet truck
By usingtraditional mail, a larger pool of data could be collected at a much lowerexpense to the company performing the survey. The same holds true forphone-oriented surveys. It boiled down to what was cheaper, faster, andultimately provided more data. However, face-to-face interviews still hold anenormous advantage over newer and cheaper forms of survey-taking: they can acquiredata from subjects who would otherwise be impossible to gather data from. Whilemost of us can't imagine life without a computer and the internet, there arestill hundreds of millions of people who have no internet access whatsoever.And a face-to-face interview would be able to collect data where an onlinesurvey would altogether miss a very large portion of society. Although costly, time-consuming,and labor-intensive, the face-to-face interview is still an extremely powerfultool for collecting data. Face-to-face surveys offer several, obvious advantages overother forms of market research. They solve obstacles such as: incompletesubject lists, those who are unreachable by computer, and those who do not havephone lines (yes, believe it or not, some people live without a phone line!).
Whenperformed over a geographic area, face-to-face interviews leave very little tochance because interviewers simply travel from physical address to physicaladdress and knock on doors. Another bonus is that interviewers can stress theimportance of the survey and encourage subjects to provide more accurate data.Yet another expensive drawback to face-to-face surveys isthe proper training of interviewers. The question and answer nature of live interviewsrequires personnel who conduct the survey to be well-versed in the surveymaterial. They also need to be prepared to handle a wide variety of potentialquestions and responses from the subject. If training is poor, interviewers canmake errors when gathering their data. These errors run the risk of ruining theaccuracy of a survey.A large scale, face-to-face survey performed over a specificarea requires strong organization.
A supervisor will most likely be needed toorganize routes and assist interviewers in case an unlikely question is askedfrom a subject. Not too mention, there will inevitably be households where nobodyis home and a return trip to the residence will be needed. A supervisor -although a necessity for such an undertaking, only adds to the excessive costof a face-to-face geographic survey.There's no doubt about it, face-to-face interviewscome at a high cost. The labor and time that is required for a live interviewsurvey is hard to justify when there are much less expensive and viable surveysystems available. Most often, a telephone survey or even an online, email surveyis much more cost effective to perform despite the fact that data will not becollected from certain groups of the population. Considering the above mentionedcosts for a face-to-face survey, it's no wonder that face-to-face interviewsare the least used survey method.