CATI is the acronym of Computer Assisted Telephone Interview.

It is a research methodology that allows to conduct phone surveys where an interviewer administers a questionnaire to the respondent by reading it on a computer during a phone call. 

The questionnaire is not just a guideline but a tool to automatically lead the questionnaire flow and formulate questions. The role of the interviewer is that of an intermediary between the respondent and the questionnaire. Also, the interviewer can clarify questions to improve the response rate.

Different questions are asked in a sequential order thanks to filters and logic conditions that automatically regulate the questionnaire.

The CATI methodology guarantees accuracy because the interviewer’s presence can help data collection.

How does the CATI survey method work?

The interviewer will need an internet connection and a phone (a real one or software if working with VoIP). The most advanced survey software, like IdSurvey, are web-based so they don’t need an installation and they can be accessed with any browsers.

Thanks to this option, small research agencies can let their interviewers work from home, saving money and improving flexibility.

The interviewers reach the respondents calling their phone numbers. The agents follow the instructions displayed on the screen to interview the respondents and complete the survey.

Survey responses will be saved directly into the database in real-time. So, there is no risk of data loss or issues while collecting phone interviews. The computer aided technology of the CATI software automatically checks answers coherence, set control questions, and stop the progress of the interview if one answer is not recorded correctly.

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How is the call made?

Each interviewer needs a standard phone or a softphone. In both cases, the agent can make the call by clicking on the number displayed on the screen.

If the line is busy, the interviewer can move to a new respondent, automatically proposed by the software.

The time spent on call attempts can be crucial for survey costs. For this reason, a solution called “Predictive Dialing” be used to optimize the time. With Predictive Dialing, the dialer automatically manages all calls and forwards only contacts that answer the phone.

Predictive Dialing is a feature that saves a lot of time in maximizing interviewers’ performance.

CATI software survey flow
Click to dial vs. Predictive dialing
Predictive dialing process

Differences between outbound and inbound calls

Everything described above happens when the call center makes the calls.

Outbound. Some specific surveys may require a different method to allow respondents to reach the call center.

Inbound. When using Inbound, the dialer forwards the call to the first interviewer who is available. The interviewer can take the call and start the survey after they search and identify the respondent in the software database.

The survey can also work in mixed mode. This outbound-inbound mode is used to manage calls that the call center gets after an attempt to call. It’s frequent that contacts call back the number to know who called them. Mixed mode allows retrieving these calls and optimizing the redemption of the survey.

Outbound and Inbound flow

CATI methodology main advantages

The advantages of CATI surveys are the following:


he interviewer’s presence – that can solve any respondent issue and avoid incorrect answers – and the software itself – developed to prevent errors in the administration of the questionnaire – can improve data quality.


Time reduction to conduct interviews. There are two main reasons for this: data input and call back management. The data input phase is immediate, and all answers go straight to the database. The software also automatically manages the call back.


You can monitor interview progress, incomplete answers, and more. The CATI software also provides automatic statistics and reports. This option saves up a lot of time to market researchers.


Compared to an old paper interview, we noticed that a telephone survey is cheaper and more effective.

Close contact

The presence of an interviewer guarantees a personal contact with the respondent. And this is crucial, especially when you ask questions on a thorny subject.

CATI survey software like IdSurvey allow to monitor interviewers timing and efficiency by optimizing their productivity and questionnaire quality. Working with CATI surveys, you’ll face different requirements: for some surveys you’ll need all the interviewers you have, for some others you may need half of them. Find a software provider that has license flexibility to optimize your investment! 

Discover the advantages of IdSurvey for companies

IdSurvey solved our problems. It provides a fully integrated and seamless survey platform across all three methodologies. It is highly intuitive, user friendly and the platform is accessible. We have also found the staff at IdSurvey to be hugely responsive, helpful, knowledgable and accomodating when we have spoken to them about adaptations....

CAWI survey method vs CATI Method

The CAWI survey method is more convenient than CATI because of the lack of costs related to the calls and the phone agents. Also, you avoid costs in interviewer training, logistical organization, and phone tools.

On the other hand, phone surveys ensure higher data quality and almost 100% accuracy.

The CAWI survey allows you to conduct impartial research because there’s no direct contact with the respondent. This aspect could be both a deficiency and a quality, depending on the type of survey you need to complete.

To benefit from the advantages of both techniques, you can opt for mixed mode. For example, you get in touch with the respondent by phone first to explain the purpose of the research. Later, you send them an email with a link to the questionnaire.

Not all software can manage mixed mode surveys: IdSurvey can manage and administer mixed CATI, CAWI, and CAPI surveys easily, intuitively, and professionally. Discover more on survey distribution.

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