CATI Survey Method
10 April 2017

How to manage a multi-country CATI survey

800,000 respondents in over 60 countries.

No, we are not exaggerating. These are figures that annually concern our international market research.

It’s very exciting for me to talk about these projects, as well as a source of pride, and I am immensely happy to say it through our blog, which is our digital home, as we like to call it.

You must know that for market research professionals there aren’t too many things that are exciting and complex as the multi-country projects are. Being up to this project requires a lot of professionalism and a perfectly balanced and cohesive team, things that over time have become the strength of our company.

Our war-horse is a service that provides a single point of contact to the customer: these foreign projects, which require a more complex management compared to the national ones, are exclusively managed by IFF International. What does it mean? Although ten countries are involved in the study, our client knows that he only has one project manager, one contact and, this is extremely important to avoid confusion in the team and to ensure that the project can be completed without any problem.

The secret for a perfect multi-country market research

How can you coordinate such a so detailed work?

Of course , you need to have a perfect organizational gear. A great machine where we all play our own role actively and responsibly.

Our staff is able to handle a large amount of countries (with the attached issues that may arise) as if it were just one. This is actually possible because our project managers are well organized so they can work with a multi-faceted field and with small teams, each one of them is dedicated to the individual languages of the various countries. Thanks to this almost schematic organization, we can also deal better with customers’ reactions.

The aspects of a perfect multi-country CATI survey

Understanding and managing customer expectations, but also facing countries that are difficult to penetrate, these are some of the winning corporate behaviors. You need to have an extreme flexibility , a good dose of foresight and lots, lots of patience.

You certainly might imagine that there are countries with bigger cultural difficulties compared to others. Among these, the UK and the US are a bit unfriendly or quiet unwilling to participate in a survey; these are countries where people tend to hang up on you without too many compliments. That’s why patience … We must watch out and move with strategy.

What we care about is our customer and his demands.

The customer satisfaction leitmotif is “help me to help you,” always hoping that the customer will be collaborative.

It is surely interesting working in an international context and, even nice in many ways, but it’s actually hard moving on tiptoe between languages and scripts, it’s definitely something that should not be underestimated, especially when you need to deal with substantial projects that require a precise localization work. For example, Scandinavian countries are linguistically really difficult, and so is Germany. And if you even get into a Catalan project well, go back upper and read again the word patience.

It is a daily challenge, a dance between giving and receiving, which is conducted between us and the customer. Collaboration becomes another of our keywords.

What is the first step to begin with?

A well structured multi-country survey should ideally start with an email “alert” by the client, a pre-notification letter, but it is not always like that. A warned person is certainly more proactive instead of being contacted with what we call a call-call, which means a call received “from nowhere ” and maybe even during business or relaxing hours.

Then there are surveys with incentives, which we don’t typically deal with . These interviews last 40 minutes and have many open end and, they assume an important feedback from the respondent, a feedback that it is not “I am satisfied” or ” I amore not satisfied”: specifying their answers makes the difference and that is what the client really searches for.

What are the advantages of a international survey?

A multi-country project means prestige, besides being much more saleable. With only one project you can greatly expand your portfolio and bring home an important result at company level. The set-up phase is much more difficult, but it is all at the same time more productive, you receive more and more information. It is interesting and exciting to see how the redemption changes from one country to another, finding out why, making analysis, understanding the diversity of the individual markets and then compare them to each other. This way you can build the main structure of your corporate job, and be able to face more complex projects.

But what are the winning aspects for a successful multi-country program?

  • A solid field that perfectly moves like a Swiss watch.
  • A clear understanding of what the customer wants.
  • An honest and transparent disclosure of the effective possibilities: never create wrong expectations. If what the customer asks for is not obtainable, you must be clear by proposing alternative solutions.
  • A constant exchange of feedback with the customer.
  • Always keep in mind that relating with a new country always means facing a cultural challenge.

These thoughts are of course the result of years of experience in international market research, and also of mistakes, falls and wrong assessments. I wanted to tell you about it because now I think I’ve put aside a full bag that can be taken on a trip and shared with those who approach the world of CATI and desire and need to understand the dynamics of what is this all about. Each one of us has its own M.O, but it is by sharing that individuals become community and skills form companies.

I am extremely satisfied with IFF, with its work and achievements, and I just would like to tell you this in all the different languages of the world!

If you need help, write me

Ennio Armato (Branch Manager, Italy)

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