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Computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) is an interview method where enumerators communicate with respondents in a voice call. In this phone interviewing approach, enumerators use an electronic device (computer/tablet/mobile phone) to read the survey script and enter the information collected.
Phone interviews have some advantages over face-to-face interviews, including cost-effectiveness, amongst others. Importantly, you might be considering computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) as an alternative to computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) as a response to the COVID-19 health crisis. In this guide, we'll direct you to make an informed decision on the approach to CATI that works best for you, given your resources and objectives.
For anyone new to CATI who has decided to implement this solution and manage it themselves, there are a few choices to make, and requirements to be aware of. How you approach CATI depends on your resources and current circumstances. In this introduction of the guide, we'll aim to answer high level questions to do with executing CATI.
First though, should you be implementing CATI?
|If you want to dive right in, you can deploy a sample CATI workflow now that would allow you to try out SurveyCTO's CATI support. Or jump to the table at the bottom orient yourself to the rest of our resources on CATI.|
1. Choosing CATI
There are of course other alternatives to face-to-face data collection, but not all of them will be optimal for your project. CATI is still interviewer-mediated data collection, so is a great choice whenever questions require some explaining or where response lists are longer than just a few choices. A well-trained interviewer, whether face-to-face or over the phone, can be an important ingredient in survey responses that are grounded in a good understanding of questions, ultimately leading to higher quality data.
If CATI is a good choice for your project, you'll have to decide what approach works for you. While this guide presents an ideal self-managed approach to CATI, it is not the only one. Existing projects with little time that are pivoting to CATI might have enumerators working on paper printouts of respondent phone numbers, making manual records of call attempts. Such an approach is not likely to scale well, but it is an option that might buy you some time.
When transitioning to CATI, ensure that each of your enumerators will have access to call-capable devices, internet service, and SIM cards. Of course, if you are simply transitioning, it’s likely that you already have all necessary material set up.
|If you’re starting with CATI and would like to explore the requirements in more detail, see our article Starting with CATI - what do you need?. This article explores not only necessary equipment, but also some optional alternatives that might be worth considering depending on your context.|
2. Using SurveyCTO for CATI
The table below lists SurveyCTO's most important features for CATI:
Using either our built-in online form designer or excel form template, you can easily design a user friendly questionnaire that will help guide your enumerators through phone surveys. Besides the wide range of field types and appearances, we support HTML tags to format your labels. Additionally, our field plug-ins allow you to expand on the functionality and appearance of your forms.
If you’re just starting with SurveyCTO, if you are struggling setting up any workflow or if you simply need something to start with, we have a library of sample workflows that will help you kick-off!
|Manage phone calls and send SMS|
With field plug-ins, SurveyCTO Collect can handle phone calls in-app thanks to the phone-call field plug-in or launch the SMS application on an Android device, populating them with the phone number and/or text message stored in the form and eliminating intermediary and unnecessary steps to call respondents and/or send them SMS messages.
|Integration with third-party apps|
Using field plug-ins, the API or our direct integration with Zapier, you are able to trigger several actions in third-party apps using SurveyCTO forms. As an example, Zapier can be used to create calendar events considering call back times scheduled in forms. Most importantly, it is possible to integrate with cloud telephony services (like Exotel and Twilio) so you can use a different platform for voice calls (offering a range of benefits like call masking and robust call-recording).
|Decentralized data collection|
There's no need for costly in-house call center systems with multi-line phone systems, and enterprise IT infrastructure. A decentralized team working from home on smart devices and/or laptops can get the job done. Help remote team members quickly set up their devices just right using centrally managed default device configurations.
|Ensuring data quality|
We know how important it is to collect data that can help you understand how phone interviews went. This is an important aspect of monitoring data collection, contributing to high-quality data. Using SurveyCTO Collect for Android, you will be able to collect sensor data, audio and text audits, as well as record phone call logs.
As with any data collection, it is helpful to track key indicators in real time. In the case of CATI, you might need to track indicators related to phone surveys (e.g. call attempts and status, respondents’ availability), but also indicators related to enumerators performance. Apart from our built-in Data Explorer, you can easily publish data to Google Sheets, Power BI or other data visualization tools for more flexibility on creating custom dashboards.
3. CATI resources catalog
2. Design(click above for CATI form templates!)
4. Learning from others
- Discover how J-PAL and IPA use SurveyCTO Plug-ins for phone surveys and more (SurveyCTO Webinar)
- Going Digital - Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI): Lessons learned from a pilot study (Oxfam)
- Best practices for conducting phone surveys (J-PAL)
- Transitioning to CATI: Resources and Checklists (J-PAL South Asia)
- Practical Tips for Implementing Remote Surveys in the Time of the Great Lockdown (IPA)
- Phone survey methods (IPA)
- Tips to Quickly Switch from Face-to-Face to Home-Based Telephone Interviewing (Mathematica)
- Transitioning from CAPI to CATI: A guide to adapt to phone surveys using CATI in unprecedented times like COVID-19 (Outline India)
- Remote surveys (DIME wiki)
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