Editor's note: Matthijs Visser is a principal at Advanis, an Edmonton, Alberta-based research firm.

Twenty-five years ago, every survey respondent’s primary real-time communication method was a landline phone. These days, respondents’ preferred communication methods vary enormously due to the plethora of devices and applications available to them. To list a few statistics: 91 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone1; 55 percent of those own a smartphone2; 82 percent of U.S. adults use e-mail3; 81 percent of adult U.S. cell phone owners use text messaging4; 64 percent of U.S. households have a landline phone5.

With such a multitude of communication methods available, respondents have developed communication preferences that are unique to each individual. Even though a survey respondent may have access to e-mail, mobile and landline voice and text messaging, it doesn’t mean that they prefer to use each method equally. What if our research efforts could respect those preferences as opposed to dictating a single data collection methodology?

We hypothesize that providing respondents with different options for providing feedback results in the following benefits: an improved survey experience; an increase in the survey response rate compared to using a single survey methodology; sample that is more representative of the population.

But is that in fact the case? To gauge the effectiveness of providing respondents with multiple options to complete the survey, Advanis, in partnership with our client, conducted a pilot on a large customer-experience study. Three methodologies were tested: IVR-only, SMS-only and letting respondents choose between SMS, Web and IVR, as demonstrated in Figure 1.

So, do respondents actually make use of each of the different feedback options, when offered? When we allowed survey respondents to choose their preferred feedback method, we see that all of the options...