“Don’t call me anymore…. I’m on the do not call list!” 

“Put me on your Do Not Call list.”

“I’m going to report you for calling my number.  It is on the Do Not Call list.”

Sound familiar?  Nearly every day, we’re barraged with articles and news stories about the upcoming national Do Not Call registry.  Although it does not go into force until October 1, 2003, many states have maintained Do Not Call list for the last several years.  Confusion abounds among the general public despite the fact that much of the communication states that it’s telemarketing calls that will be stopped.  It is not stressed often enough that survey research is exempt from this registry, and that surveys provide value to the public as well as the media and lawmakers that are enforcing this registry. 

The interviewer’s job is difficult enough with concerns about privacy and time-poor respondents, but now the various legislation that is being created makes their job even harder.  Recently CMOR provided its members with key information about the Do Not Call registry.  This information is not only important for business owners and key executives, but even more important for interviewers who deal with the public’s questions directly.  Are your interviewers prepared to handle the possible backlash from this new registry?

CMOR website provides comprehensive information about legislation that affects the survey research industry.  Often other industry associations formulate their own recommendations or guidelines about major issues such as the Do Not Call registry.  However, it is time that the industry speak with one voice, so in the spirit of working together for the good of the industry, MRA and CMOR staff had a brainstorming meeting about the Do Not Call Registry and what consistent and comprehensive strategy that the industry can take

The participants were CMOR’s staff members, Chris Adams, Donna Gillin and Jane Sheppard Miller, and MRA’s staff members, Elyse Gammer, Larry Hadcock, and Betsy Peterson.  The purpose was to brainstorm ways that the Partnership can work jointly to inform and educate our members and the general public about the Do Not Call Registry.  However, Donna Gillin, CMOR’s Director Government Affairs, made us aware that we must be careful how we communicate to avoid backlash, and be clear in distinguishing telemarketing from survey research, and stress how consumers benefit directly from survey research.

Informing and education the general public requires a concerted effort of many.  Article and Letters to the Editor promoting the value of survey research should be the responsibility of every researcher.  Tools have been developed and available through both MRA and CMOR’s websites.  Other actions include having articles written for the media about case studies where survey research made a difference to the success or a product or service.  If you have such case studies that show the value of survey research, send them to Jane Sheppard Miller.

Informing and educating our members requires a continuous stream of information to those who need to know, and provide practical tools for those who interface with the public…the interviewers.  This can be accomplished through email alerts, speaking at conferences and chapter events, and creating advisory group from data collection/full service research companies to keep CMOR’s Respondent Cooperation Director informed of any “new” news.  Those that are interested in serving in this capacity should contact Jane Sheppard Miller.

Our first attempt of providing tools that would help our members and their interviewing staff was begun.  CMOR surveyed over a 100 companies asking them to provide any special materials recently developed to help interviewers understand the Do Not Call registry.  Unfortunately, only 3 companies responded, but the materials were outstanding.  These companies provided guidelines on modifying the introductions, providing FAQ’s about the registry, and even developing a “test” to assess the level of knowledge and comfort with the information about the registry.  CMOR, along with MRA, will continue collecting information from other companies, and will devise a set of tools for interviewers. 

Interviewers are the lifeblood of our industry and must be prepared to handle as many situations as possible.  Cooperation will improve when the interviewer is confident with the survey, and in answering questions, and handling objections.  Are your interviewers prepared?  Do your part and help your company, AND the industry.