Although the 2008 U.S. general election is still many months away, campaigning and polling is now in full swing. Political and public interest groups are busy gauging the mood, gathering statistics, performing polls and surveys and analysis. Getting a handle on the opinions of citizens, and how that will affect their votes, involves making direct contact with cross-sections of the population to gather data.
Many political groups perform polls and other data gathering from bases in different locations around the country, relying heavily on volunteers to help out. The traditional way to perform a survey or poll (since the advent of the Internet) was to give each volunteer a list of phone numbers to call and the address of a Web site where they could enter results from each call.
Although the use of Web sites as information dumping-grounds was an improvement over the efficiency of polling/surveying pre-Internet, this approach still posed problems. By giving people hard copy printouts of phone number lists, for example, there was no way to ensure that every single number was called. It was also difficult to efficiently update the lists after they were issued.
Administrating a nationally-distributed poll or survey using printed phone lists was also a rather challenging task. The trend was toward centralized collection of results, but this didn’t happen in real-time, and overarching control/monitoring wasn’t really possible. Further exacerbating the challenges was the fact that volunteers often had to pay for the calls they made, resulting in a cumbersome process of reimbursement.
There is now a better way. Distributed call center systems, like the one offered by voice broadcast solutions specialist CallFire, bring the efficiency of polling and surveying to a new level. This type of solution introduces a centralized, electronic list of phone numbers to call, along with a login system volunteers utilize to connect with constituents.
The system goes beyond merely centralizing the call list, though; it automates the dialing process. Users simply log into the system, and it then uses a predictive algorithm to connect callers with constituents. The system keeps tracks of which numbers have been called so efforts aren’t duplicated.
When the user is connected to person they’ll be polling or surveying, a data collection form appears on the screen, for response input. The information is therefore collected and updated in real-time.
This type of system introduces a new level of centralized control over distributed political polls and surveys, and also makes the process of helping out easier and more flexible for volunteers. In one example from CallFire, a political organization with 800 volunteers nationwide set up a campaign in one hour, and completed it in three days. Volunteers logged in from home when they had time to gather information from constituents.
To learn more about how this type of system can be used for political polling, surveying and other applications, please visit the Voice Broadcast channel on TMCnet.com, brought to you by CallFire.
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Mae Kowalke is an associate editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae’s articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.