CATI- How Does It Work, and What Are Its Advantages and Disadvantages?

CATI- How Does It Work, and What Are Its Advantages and Disadvantages?

Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing is known as CATI. CATI has taken the place of conventional telephone interviews in face-to-face fieldwork, just like computers have done for the clipboard and questionnaire.

A computer screen with a questionnaire is read by the interviewer, who then enters the participants' answers as they are given.

The main advantage of CATI research is its accuracy because the programme analyses pattern automatically and provide the best survey results. On the other hand, CATI research programmers will automatically log all responses for later use, eliminating the need for staff to waste time converting paper-based data to digital versions.

When conducting global research, CATI research is crucial because it allows researchers to reach respondents from anywhere in the globe who do not have computer access but do have a phone. Despite this, CATI can be harmful to promotion in some respects because you typically have to avoid addressing some sensitive topics with customers over the phone, making it challenging to segment your audience.

At Spade Survey, we have considerable expertise in performing telephone and online global quantitative research (CATI). A face-to-face situation is another option for doing quantitative research. Explore the techniques we employ.

The working of CATI (Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing)

CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing) - what is it?

A questionnaire that is shown on a computer screen directs telephone interviews. In order to match up the pre-coded responses shown on the screen with the recorded responses, the interviewer uses a keyboard and mouse. The CATI programme manages any routing of questionnaires or intricate survey logic.

Additionally, the majority of CATI software suites manage:

managing samples, i.e. the planning and distribution of telephone numbers to the individuals or teams of interviewers assigned to do fieldwork for a specific study.

Quota management is the process of making sure the target number of interviews with particular populations or subsamples is reached.

Monitoring call outcomes, response rates, and appointment scheduling for interviews.

There are many advantages to CATI research:

The routing instructions are taken care of, freeing the interviewer to focus on the interview itself.

Data is directly entered in a structured fashion into the survey database. As a result, additional data processing is not necessary (e.g. transcription, data entry and coding). Costs and errors are reduced as a result.

Because data is entered as it is acquired, the interfacing process is sped up.

Because feedback is gathered in real-time, researchers and analysts can analyze the survey dataset while the fieldwork is still being done. This also applies to displaying survey data on real-time dashboards.

Modern CATI platforms provide mixed-mode techniques by combining telephone interviewing capabilities with internet surveys. This is particularly crucial for business-to-business research studies, when a variety of data collection techniques may be required to increase response rates.

Additionally, there are a few drawbacks to CATI market research:

It takes time to set up a survey and get it working well on a CATI system.

On CATI, dealing with open-ended responses poses the following issues: Although the systems can handle open-ended responses, interviewers must have quick and accurate typing abilities in order to capture them.

It is more challenging to go back and make modifications during an interview than it is with paper questionnaires if a respondent changes an earlier response midway through.

Telephone interviews are becoming less effective at reaching particular target audiences.

There are fewer fixed-line telephones being used in households, and mobile phone marketing is subject to more restrictive rules. For instance, many nations forbid or have restrictions on the usage of automatic dialers. One of the most efficient ways to collect representative samples for several business-to-business audiences is still through telephone interviewing.

Generally speaking, CATI research is best fit for structured interviews conducted in large numbers, particularly repeated surveys when all potential responses have been determined and can be recorded as pre-coded responses.

Households are using fewer fixed-line telephones, and marketing on mobile phones is subject to stricter regulations. For instance, the use of automatic dialers is prohibited or subject to regulations in several countries. Telephone interviews are still one of the most effective techniques to get representative samples for various business-to-business audiences.

How does CATI Research Work:

  • Institutions choose the project's objectives, parameters, and questionnaire length.
  • The organization creates specialized questionnaires and surveys.
  • The organization produces phone numbers, distributes them to the interviewers, and then begins dialling and logging calls.
  • The organization provides the client with stored information, statistics, and results.

Let's examine the aforementioned-

The CATI research procedure may vary slightly depending on the study team. When beginning a new project when using a spade survey, the following steps are often included:

Phase 1: Conceptualization and Launching: Spade Survey will meet with the client at this phase to discuss the project's requirements, conduct a feasibility study, select a sampling frame and approach, such as random digit dialling, and create a budget depending on the targeting, sample size, questionnaire length, and certain other factors.

Phase 2: Project Planning and Definition Next, the client will work with the spade survey execution team to produce a questionnaire that complies with CATI survey design best practises. The questionnaire will then be translated, and in-depth project-specific interviewer training will be provided. Before doing full-scale research, Spade Survey will conduct a pilot for a few projects to serve as a quality control check.

Phase 3: Upon completion of the planning phase, the spade survey team initiates the third phase, which is the production and monitoring of the survey. During this stage, interviewers are given or given phone numbers to call candidates live. To get the best results, during the survey production process, survey data and analytics that show interviewer's progress are continuously checked. For an added step of quality control, call recordings are also used.

Benefits of CATI

  • Detailed information is gathered through follow-up inquiries.
  • Data is safely recorded and kept.
  • Gives interviewers access to a large portion of the population
  • Has a predictive dialling feature that reduces the time spent making manual calls.
  • Contains clever time zone management so that interviewees can conduct research at any time.
  • Project managers can track and keep an eye on call outcomes, dropoff rates, and response rates.
  • Doesn't need any software configuration to use, and any web browser can access the software.
  • When saved digitally, questionnaires may be readily updated or corrected.
  • It is possible to record conversations for later review and analysis.

CATI's drawbacks

  • Interviewers must receive training in conducting surveys and utilizing the CATI programme.
  • Interviewers might not catch poorly written questions in the software.
  • You can't reach people who don't have access to a phone.
  • After answering the question, it can be challenging for the respondent to change their responses.

Benefits of CATI Survey Research:

  • CATI improves conventional phone call techniques, which rely on a pen-and-paper method to review questions and record responses. A CATI programme or piece of software securely saves data, allowing interviewers to focus on the interview instead of other duties like survey routing. While each CATI software product has a unique combination of advantages, the following are among the most typical:
  • The CATI software will display the appropriate next question if a respondent answers "yes" to a certain question. This feature automatically redirects surveys based on responses.
  • Reduces the need for manually entering data into questionnaires on paper by automatically inputting and transferring data to a central system. In addition to speeding up the submission process, this dramatically lowers data processing errors.
  • Since questionnaires are kept digitally, any problems with the wording of the questions or the skip logic can be fixed immediately.
  • Automatically keeps track of statistics related to survey output, including response rates, completion rates, dropoff rates, and more.

allows for remote interviewer monitoring via analytics, which can automatically be put into a quality assurance dashboard and examined on a regular basis. This monitoring can include things like overall interview length, answered length, and response patterns.

  • Provides conversation recordings that may be checked for data quality.
  • Face-to-face interviews can be replaced with CATI surveys instead of other phone call research techniques like Interactive Voice Response. This is so that the interviewer can ask follow-up questions, collect qualitative data through open-ended inquiries, and perform the interview.

Challenges with CATI Survey Research:

There are a few difficulties to take into account before beginning a CATI research investigation. Following are a handful of them:

  • The CATI software that interviewers are using, as well as the specific questionnaire they are utilizing, require training because each has a different layout and set of features.
  • If questionnaires are entered wrongly into the CATI software, interviewers may not detect and perform surveys erroneously.

Open-ended responses must be entered into the CATI programme, which could lead to transcription mistakes.

Backward navigation is more challenging with CATI software than it is with pen-and-paper surveys, therefore it could be challenging to revise prior responses.

While these issues must be recognized by researchers, they can be minimized through, among other quality control techniques, regular script cross-checks and training for interviewers.

Frequently Asked Questions on CATI

What is CATI?

CATI is a research approach that guides telephonic survey research using a computer. The interviewer contacts the respondent over the phone and performs the full research over the phone, rather than utilising a paper-printed questionnaire.

HOW DOES CATI (Computer-Assisted Telephonic Interviewing) WORK?

Enumerators connect with respondents through voice calls during computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). Enumerators in this phone interviewing method read the survey script and enter the information obtained using an electronic device (computer/tablet/mobile phone).


Advantages of CATI

  • Demographics
  • Cost-Effective
  • Immediate reaction
  • Personalization
  • Eliminates manual inaccuracies
  • Qualitative feedback

Disadvantages of CATI

  • Interviewer training
  • Low Data Quality
  • Less honest answers
  • No one has the time for a long questionnaire
  • Low response rate
  • No concept or ad testing



  • Surveys are automatically redirected based on replies; if a respondent says "yes" to a certain question, the CATI programme will display the following question.
  • Data is automatically entered and sent to a central system, eliminating the need for human data entry using pen-and-paper surveys.
  • This decreases data processing mistakes and the time it takes to transmit information considerably.
  • Questionnaires are digitally saved, allowing them to be updated or amended in real time if difficulties with question phrasing or skip logic develop.


  • Interviewers must be taught not just about the specific questionnaire, but also about the CATI programme, as each has its unique flow and features.
  • If questions are entered wrongly into the CATI software, interviewers may fail to detect and run surveys erroneously.
  • Open-ended responses must be entered into the CATI software, which might lead to transcription problems.

To know more about the latest trends in CATI research visit Statzy Market Research 

mona-content-writer Ayushi