Will They Answer the Phone if They Know It’s Us? Using Caller ID to Improve Response Rates

Survey response rates have been declining over the last several decades. In terms of telephone surveys, this decline is often attributed to the wide availability of call screening technologies and respondents’ reluctance to answer calls from unknown numbers. This has led some to posit that calling respondents from local area codes (or familiar area codes) and using identifiers that are both recognizable and trustworthy may improve survey response rates. In fact, anecdotal evidence within our own agency has suggested that this may be the case; however, research outside of our agency has produced mixed findings in regards to these claims. At the National Agricultural Statistics Service, we conducted a series of experiments to determine if the information presented on caller ID would influence response rates. Specifically, we examined whether calling respondents using in-state area codes rather than out-of-state area codes and different identifiers (i.e., USDA versus Ag Counts) improved response rates. In addition, we surveyed respondents regarding their use of caller ID and its influence on their decision to answer our call. In this report, we discuss the findings from this study and their implications.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

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