Editor’s note: Based in New York, Jessica Spilman is vice president, research, at marketing consulting firm KJT Group. Corinne Shanahan is senior research assistant at KJT Group.  

One of our clients recently engaged with us to collect physician feedback on two diabetes-related diagnostic testing panels. Their research objectives were to elicit primary care physician and endocrinologist perceptions of the two panels; understand how and where each would be used; and ultimately determine the value of offering both. 

Due to an impending rollout, we decided on a two-phase research plan to obtain information quickly. Phase 1 included a handful of Web-assisted telephone in-depth interviews to qualitatively explore the objectives. Phase 2 included virtual voice response interviews (VVIs) to capture feedback from a broader set of customers on select questions identified during Phase 1. 

Imagine a potential customer leaving you a thoughtful 10-minute voicemail that addresses your eight-to-10 most pressing questions. Now imagine getting close to 30 voicemails. Using virtual voice-response interviews allows pre-qualified respondents to dial in to a phone line that has been programmed with a short list of interview questions. Respondents listen to the automated questions then provide a verbal response to each. Depending on the study, respondents can also review brief stimuli prior to beginning the interview and answer questions about it.

We decided to use VVIs in this study for several reasons. The asynchronous nature of this format makes it respondent-friendly for busy physicians. We were able to steal just a few minutes of time to collect detailed feedback from primary care physicians and endocrinologists, both of whom have notoriously packed schedules.

VVIs also helped bring the voice-of-the-customer to life through various voice-analysis techniques. We were able to take a deep dive into a physic...