Making response rates job #1

Despite the very challenging response rate environment of the last several years, Scarborough has achieved significant response/return rate increases in each stage of our three-instrument, telephone-followed-by-mail survey approach. Gains in the mail are largely due to conventional respondent-oriented treatments and added resources. For the telephone, however, the most important factor has been an internally-directed overhaul and re-engineering of the entire telephone interviewing process. The financial management measures that were once important elements in evaluating interviewers and calling center managers have been abandoned, replaced by the concept of “best use of sample.� This has become a central organizing principal, akin to a total quality management approach in a traditional manufacturing environment, and has affected virtually every aspect of the interviewing process. Of particular note, it has led to greater communication and interaction between field and management, to significant changes in interviewer hiring, training, and supervising practices, and to new metrics for evaluation and compensation. And, as has often happened in quality management settings, quality has greatly improved (measured against any type of quality metric) with relatively modest cost increases.

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