Computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) starter kit

This guide is an evolving work-in-progress. View this article as a logged in user (if you're not a user now, start an account for free) and click on the "Follow" button in the top right to get updates on changes to this starter kit. If you would like to quickly jump into a specific article or sample workflow of this guide, check section 3. CATI Resources Catalog.

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:

Flexible Design outline_design_services_black_48dp.png

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 outline_phone_in_talk_black_48dp.pngoutline_textsms_black_48dp.png

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 twilio-logo-red.pngExotel_Final_logo-300x137.png

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 outline_settings_black_48dp.png

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 outline_keyboard_voice_black_48dp.pngoutline_receipt_long_black_48dp.png

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.

 

Tracking outline_analytics_black_48dp.png

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

1. Preparation

2. Design

CATI sample workflows

(click here for CATI form templates!)

3. Collect

4. Monitor

4. Learning from others

Do you have thoughts on this guide? We'd love to hear them! Feel free to fill out this feedback form.

9 Comments

  • 0
    Avatar
    Amrik Cooper

    This guide has been improved since it's launch! See the new heading 7 for an example Google Sheet dashboard for tracking CATI.

    Do you have feedback on this guide? Write to support@surveycto.com.

     

  • 0
    Avatar
    Amrik Cooper

    This guide has new improvements! We've added version 2 of the accompanying sample form that uses a field plug-in for launching the phone dialer on Android devices.

    Field plug-ins are a feature of SurveyCTO 2.70, which is now available! Learn more in our latest blog post.

    Do you have feedback on this guide? Write to support@surveycto.com.

  • 0
    Avatar
    Amrik Cooper

    If you read our CATI starter kit and found the server dataset publishing side of things difficult to understand, we have a new resource for you! See the bottom of the "Overview" section of the guide for a link to a new webinar recording, all about server dataset publishing workflows.

  • 0
    Avatar
    Amrik Cooper

    A major update to the SurveyCTO computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) starter kit has been launched! The starter kit is now a three-part guide:

    1. Part 1: Foundational advice on whether CATI is right for your project, what's required to adopt CATI, and how to prepare for CATI.
    2. Part 2: The basic CATI sample form workflow (previously released).
    3. Part 3: A BRAND NEW advanced CATI sample workflow!

    The advanced workflow builds on the basic sample workflow, and now deals with many more real-world situations. For example, respondents can have many phone numbers associated with them, and not all of the phone numbers will be owned personally by the respondent. One phone number may also be better than others. The advanced sample workflow deals with all of these problems.

    Those who have read the previous version of the guide will be familiar with some of part 1 and most of part 2. More improvements are coming soon. Stay tuned for future announcements!

  • 0
    Avatar
    Amrik Cooper

    The computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) starter kit has been updated again. It now takes advantage of the very latest Android app features, available in our early release version of the app. We recommend adopting the early release for the best possible CATI experience.

  • 0
    Avatar
    Marta Costa

    We have a new resource to help CATI projects, all about remotely training your team to understand your project, and get them working from home. It features:

    1. slides to help users setting up SurveyCTO Collect on their devices, 
    2. a model quiz for assessing knowledge, and 
    3. a suggested approach on how to run mock interviews, where you'll assess competence using your CATI system.

    Check out this new article here: Training enumerators remotely for CATI.

  • 0
    Avatar
    Marta Costa

    Our CATI starter kit was expanded to include a non-case management version of the basic and advanced sample workflows!

    If you would like to learn more about the differences between a workflow with and without case management, take a look at this new article: How to use the CATI starter kit without Case Management.

    Additionally, if you're using the early release version of SurveyCTO Collect for Android, version 2.702 is available now, adding some great new security features.

  • 0
    Avatar
    Amrik Cooper

    We have new resources that will be of interest to those deploying computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI)!

    1. We have a new field plug-in for making calls with the Twilio service. We're still improving this field plug-in, and could use your feedback. Twilio offers an enterprise solution for calls, with centralized billing, phone number masking, nonprofit pricing, and encrypted call-recording that works on any device. See the twilio-call field plug-in repository for details.
    2. We have a guide and sample workflow for reassigning cases to match respondents with enumerators who speak the language they prefer to be interviewed in. Read more here.
    3. We have a guide and sample workflow for handling survey sample replacements. In this strategy, a pool of reserve respondents can be drawn from to replace a case which is currently assigned to an enumerator. Read more here.

    Do you have CATI resources you'd like to share? This could be sample forms, field plug-ins, training materials, just as examples. If you do, we invite you to share in the user forum

  • 0
    Avatar
    Marta Costa

    The CATI starter kit guide has been revised and refreshed! It is now much easier to find what you need and navigate between parts of the guide. It should also be much easier for beginners to get started. This refresh includes new content:

    Additionally, if your CATI enumeration teams are making appointments for call backs, you might be interested in the new create-google-calendar field plug-in. Add this field plug-in into your forms so that enumerators can create calendar events based on data entered into your form.

Please sign in to leave a comment.