CATI Survey Method
10 November 2016

The tone of voice is essential for the CATI survey

Communicating is something between a form of art and a cerebral marathon. You need to put your head, heart and soul into it, without ever omitting one of them. And if you do, an avalanche of uncontrolled emotions is going to overflow causing more damage than you could imagine.

When we verbally communicate, like we do in our CATI surveys exclusively conducted over the phone, besides the subject, the most important thing is our tone of voice. The method we choose for our communication and the way we express the message we want to give, constitute 70% of what we’re saying. Think about it: doesn’t this happen even when we talk to a friend, a parent or someone we have a crush on? Sometimes it’s like we want to say the most beautiful thing, but we end up saying it in such a weird way that the strength of the message vanishes.

And, at IFF, we absolutely don’t want that.

We want to make an effective and efficient communication as our hallmark.

We want our callers to instill confidence, kindness, competence, availability and determination. Either for the client and the company, because a business is successful if both of them understand each other and go towards the same direction.

Our callers are not just automated voices that ask questions. Our callers are people who interject and go straight to the point. You could compare them to a velvet stiletto. Their “Hello, Good morning” turns into a completed interview made of answers, feedback and expectations.

But could we develop a method in order to make the tone of voice unique and successful, for a company that is working with CATI surveys?

I think we could, and in this post I’m going to tell you the method I’ve perfected during these last years that I’ve been working for this company. And I’m as certain about this method as I’m certain that a male respondent finds a beautiful female voice a lot more interesting than a beautiful male voice!

How to improve the tone of voice over the phone survey: the five Cs method


A good caller must be clear and concise. They shouldn’t talk neither too quickly or too slowly in order to not sound boring and not waste the time you have for the interview. Besides, they must improve the elocution in order to reduce their own regional accent.


The message must be concise and regular. That’s all. You need to follow the purpose of the interview and avoid random and useless communication.


Every caller has to be trained in order to be precise when providing the information to the interviewee right from the bases: who I am, where I’m calling from and why. We know that nobody wants “to waste their time” and we know that those few minutes we take are small pieces of their lives that no one could give them back, so we’re extremely respectful of that.


We absolutely know how just hearing the word “survey” could be annoying for the respondent, so a good phone interviewer needs to know how to stay calm and use their savoir-faire and imagination to encounter the tantrums of an annoyed respondent that doesn’t want to give us their time.


This is the most important thing we provide to our respondent. CATI is not impersonal, it’s deeply empathetic and it’s connecting the caller to the psychological side of our respondents. Whenever I meet a new interviewer, I always tell them that the respondent comes first, without a doubt. If they sound tired, the caller needs to change the cadence of the interview; if they’re elderly, the caller needs to wait a little bit more for an answer; if the interview is becoming boring, the caller needs to change the tone of voice and the attitude.

Obviously the caller should never replace or change the questions of the interview, they need to be asked in their entirety, without any modification or omission. We’re still talking about surveys, even though we’re trying to make them more relatable.

Just like any other job, you just need experience to ameliorate. My method is intuitive but most definitely effective, it represents a good start to take the first steps into CATI without making too many mistakes, they’re a staple that will accompany the caller throughout their entire professional experience.

But we need to always remember this one important thing: if you want to communicate with people, you need to be empathetic.

Until next time, with new stories and tips about this business!

If you need help, write me

Ennio Armato (Branch Manager, Italy)

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