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Improving the Effectiveness of Interviewer Administered Surveys though Refusal Avoidance Training. Grace E. O’Neill Presented by Anne Russell U.S. Census Bureau ICES-III - June 19, 2007. Outline of Presentation. Background Respondent focus groups Refusal avoidance training

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Improving the Effectiveness of Interviewer Administered Surveys though Refusal Avoidance Training


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    1. Improving the Effectiveness of Interviewer Administered Surveys though Refusal Avoidance Training Grace E. O’Neill Presented by Anne Russell U.S. Census Bureau ICES-III - June 19, 2007

    2. Outline of Presentation • Background • Respondent focus groups • Refusal avoidance training • Training content • Discussion • Future developments

    3. Background

    4. Respondent contact staff • Interviewers: outgoing calls to gain cooperation and to gather data • Clerks: incoming calls to provide basic information and resend forms • Analysts: professional staff who place outgoing calls concerning data errors or nonresponse follow-up

    5. Respondent contact training • Interviewers: Centralized training on telephone skills and refusal avoidance and conversion • Clerks: Shadow experienced clerks with informal discussion • Analysts: Basic training on respondent contact techniques

    6. Why clerks? • Self-administered paper/ electronic forms • Establishment respondents need less encouragement to participate • Nature of telephone calls

    7. However… • Over time, the role of the clerk has evolved into the role of an interviewer • Less cooperative respondents • More data collected over the telephone • More nonresponse follow-up telephone calls • Yet, their training has not evolved

    8. Respondent Focus Groups

    9. Focus Groups • Monthly Trade Surveys • Wholesale and retail firms • Conducted by outside firm • Six focus groups, 44 participants • Respondent’s views and impressions • Ways to improve survey

    10. Focus Groups • Finding • Inexperienced clerks needed skills to increase participation by respondents, especially on voluntary surveys • Solution • Refusal avoidance training

    11. Refusal Avoidance Training

    12. Refusal Avoidance Training • Groves and McGonagle (2001) • Assemble respondent concerns • Develop responses • Train interviewers to classify concerns • Train interviewers to provide quick and appropriate responses

    13. Refusal Avoidance Training • Interactive • Cooperative learning • Flexible • Survey specific • Provides telephone skills, refusal avoidance techniques, and improves communication

    14. Training specifics • Monthly Trade Surveys (MTS) and Quarterly Services Survey (QSS) • 43 MTS clerks, 14 QSS clerks • Mix of tenure and survey experience • Supervisor and survey manager involvement • Eight hours over two days

    15. Training Preparation • Adapt household- based training to establishment-based survey • Adapt training to the MTS or QSS • Identify respondent concerns and develop solutions • FAQ Job Aid

    16. Training Content

    17. Refusal avoidance training modules • Module 1: Introduction • Module 2: Survey Specific • Module 3: Shared Experience • Module 4: Preparing a Telephone Call • Module 5: Telephone Skills • Module 6: Identify, Analyzing, and Dealing with Reluctance and Refusal • Module 7: Recovering from Negative Calls • Module 8: Wrap-up and Evaluation

    18. Module 1 • Introduction • Introduces training to clerks • Introduces the trainer and clerks to each other • Provides training schedule

    19. Module 2 • Survey Specific • Introduces survey specific content • Conducted by survey manager or survey staff

    20. Module 3 • Shared Experience • Identify clerks’ biggest concerns and difficulties • Develops solutions • Concerns are used in a later module

    21. Module 3 example • Trainer: “What are some of the things respondents say when you talk to them?” • Clerks: “Why should I do this,” “I’m not a wholesaler” etc. • Group: Identify appropriate responses • Trainer: Make sure identified concerns are addressed and adds new concerns to list

    22. Module 4 • Preparing for the Telephone Call • Asks clerks how they prepare for telephone calls • Assess what tools clerks use to find information about company and what tools they might need

    23. Module 5 • Telephone Skills • Assess clerks active listening skills • Discuss tone • Discuss mechanics of placing a telephone call

    24. Module 6 • Identifying, Analyzing and Dealing with Reluctance and Refusal • Classify concerns identified in Module 3 as reluctance and/ or refusal • Further discuss solutions • Paired practice during class • Reviewed updated FAQ Job Aid

    25. Module 7 • Recovering from Negative Calls • Discusses recovering from refusals and other negative calls • Helps clerks to evaluate negative experiences

    26. Module 8 • Wrap-up and Evaluation • Review main training points • Clarify any remaining concerns • Evaluations by clerks

    27. Results

    28. Results • Clerk evaluation • Usefulness of workshop • Usefulness of skills learned • Increased confidence, preparation, and communication

    29. Results • Response rates • Caveats: • Not experimentally tested • Confounded by other survey conditions • Don’t know how many potential refusals clerks prevented

    30. Results: MTS • Initially lower from previous response period • Loss of clerks • Misclassification of refusals

    31. Results: MTS • Over time • Good response rates, decrease in wholesale refusals • Continued improvement • Clerks have more responsibilities

    32. Results: QSS • Decline in response rates • Imputation remained stable • More companies refused • Larger companies continued to report

    33. Results: QSS • Communication has improved • Clerks are open about sharing concerns with survey managers • Bi-weekly telephone calls with call center • Annual refresher training

    34. Discussion

    35. Benefits • Centralized dissemination of skills and information • Practice occurs in a test environment • Provides training at regular intervals • Proactive training instead of reactive training

    36. Benefits • Communication between clerks, supervisors, and survey managers • Clerks feel invested in data collection process • Survey managers gain direct insight into data collection process

    37. Costs • Staff time writing and delivering training • Telephone coverage • Monetary cost of training • Difficult to provide conclusive evidence

    38. Future Developments

    39. Future Developments • Formalized process for clerk training • Data capture of call concerns • Follow-up evaluation by clerks • Analyst training

    40. Thank You • Please feel free to contact the author at: • Grace E. O’Neill • Email: grace.e.oneill@census.gov • Phone: 301-763-3537