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SurveyCTO includes a variety of options for collecting data from telephone interviews (i.e., for computer-assisted telephone interviewing, or CATI). You can manage the overall interviewing process with the help of SurveyCTO's built-in support for case management, and you can choose whichever data-entry technology best meets your needs:

  1. SurveyCTO Collect running on a mobile device. This option tends to be the most powerful and flexible, allowing you to manage either centralized or distributed enumerator teams. Your enumerators can conduct interviews without the need for an active Internet connection and make phone calls directly from their data-collection devices, and you have a wide range of monitoring options for quality control. See our mobile data collection help topics for more on this technology option.

  2. SurveyCTO web forms running in a web browser. This option works best if your enumerators are working at laptop or desktop computers with reliable Internet connections and don't need to collect data and make or receive calls on the same device. See our web data collection help topics for more on this technology option.

Making, receiving, and managing calls directly on a mobile device

If you choose to collect your telephone-survey data with SurveyCTO Collect running on a mobile device and that mobile device has a SIM card that allows it to make and receive calls, then you can use that one device for calls, survey-management, and data-collection. Enumerators can make phone calls manually, or you can integrate outbound phone calls directly into your telephone survey instruments using a field plug-in. Plug-in options include our standard plug-in for making phone calls with the device's integrated telephone capabilities as well as plug-ins to launch calls with managed call services like Twilio or Exotel.

If you're running on iOS, calls will be handled by the default phone app on the device. On Android, calls can be handled by the default phone app on the device – or handled within Collect itself, which offers a streamlined call-management interface and greater protections for respondent privacy. Essentially, the Collect app on Android can take over as the enumerator's default phone app for the purposes of making, receiving, and managing phone calls.

By default, Collect will take over as the default phone app "on-demand," which is whenever the enumerator chooses to switch to managing calls with Collect. They can do this using the Set default phone app option in the three-dot menu, and when one of your forms launches a call with our standard phone call plug-in, it will offer them the option to handle the call with Collect. However they switch to using Collect for handling calls, they can switch back to their default phone app at any time. If you use the plug-in to launch a call and specify the hide_phone_number option, however, the enumerator will only be allowed to make the call within Collect (where the respondent's phone number can be hidden for privacy reasons, and your form can label it however you wish). If the on-demand behavior isn't ideal for your use case, you can adjust the "Set as default phone app" setting within Collect's Admin Settings: Collect can be set to take over as the default phone app "always," "whenever running," "on-demand," or "never."

Whenever Collect is set as the default phone app, a thin call-management bar will appear along the bottom of the Collect screen. Enumerators can always see the status of their current call, and they can click the bar to expand a range of options for making and managing calls. Essentially all of the standard phone-app features are available, all within Collect – including an easy option to redial the last number in case of disconnection.

CATI starter kit

The best way to get started with telephone surveying is with our CATI starter kit, in our online Support Center:

Other resources

If your CATI enumeration team is distributed, see this Support Center article on remote accompaniment.

For the most part, your monitoring and quality-control options for telephone surveying are the same as those for other kinds of mobile data collection projects. See our help topic on collecting high-quality data with SurveyCTO. However, there are some additional functions available, which can help you to collect additional metadata with your telephone-survey instruments: phone-call-duration(), phone-call-log(), collect-is-phone-app(), and device-info().

Learn how to use the CATI starter kit in our webinar on CATI forms.
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