Survey Software Training: A Handy Checklist

Survey Software TrainingDiane, Voxco’s survey training specialist, is a road warrior with thousands of training hours under her belt. She has given Voxco training sessions all over the world, including Chicago, Paris, Milan, Sydney, Singapore….and many more places. Here is her checklist to help you get the most out of your CATI or CAPI software training process. Let’s dive right in….


  • Pre-select your training questionnaires. The best survey projects to learn from are your own. A couple weeks before training, agree with your trainer which of your CATI/ CAPI questionnaires should be used in the training session. Choose something typical, but also be sure to cover more complex scenarios.
  • Book enough training hours. Discuss your needs with your trainer beforehand to block out a realistic schedule. It’s tempting to try to keep it as short as possible. But remember that long-term, it’s always better to have invested a bit of extra time in up-front training.
  • Check your equipment. We know this one sounds obvious but it happens—a room full of trainees, eager to learn, only to just then realize that the projector is out of order. Test your network connections, make sure trainees have their own work stations and yes, triple check that projector.


  • Elect your software champion. Find a go-to colleague, preferably someone software savvy and invested in the project, to be the product champion. This person can help internal teams once the training is over.
  • Group up trainees. If you’re training a large number of people, prioritize different sessions to different groups based on their software knowledge. In our experience, optimal training sessions are achieved when group sizes are no more than eight participants.
  • Encourage questions. Staying on course sometimes means slowing down for a moment. Don’t be afraid to take some time to expand upon a certain topic. We really can’t stress this enough. When someone feels out of the loop, their first reaction is often to disengage. Encouraging questions keeps everyone interested and on the ball.
  • Embrace change. Training offers you the opportunity to revisit old techniques and explore things in a new light. Don’t let yourself get in the way of major productivity gains!
  • Be committed. This means no cellphones, emails or texting during sessions. Of course, work commitments don’t just disappear—which brings us to the next point…
  • Breaks. Breaks allow trainees to stay focused during training sessions and to catch up on other projects between them. Breaks also offer a good opportunity for trainees to get some one-on-one time with their trainer and address some things that may be unclear.


  • Practice. Practice. Practice. Now that trainees acquired new skills, don’t shelve them! It’s important that everyone put the software to use as soon as possible.
  • Knowledge transfer. Avoid knowledge gaps by having your software champion train new resources as often as possible.
  • Set refresher sessions. In our experience, the average trainee absorbs around 30% of their product knowledge during the initial training sessions. A lot more is then accumulated through doing (again: practice, practice, practice!). But one of the best ways to make sure everyone is working at full productivity is through refresher courses. A periodic two- to three-hour session with your trainer transforms software operators to software experts.
  • Best practice guide. Training teaches your team to efficiently use the survey system. As your team becomes familiar with it, you’ll develop your own methods. Consider putting together a best practice guide to share with your team.

That about covers it. And now we’d like to hand the mic over. From your experience, can you think of any other tips to increase software training productivity? Let us know. Just like you’ll learn from us, we’re sure there’s a whole lot to learn from you.

Planning on How Best to Interview the Next Generation of Survey Participants

With response rate challenges continuing to haunt the industry, we collectively need to start thinking about how to survey the next generation of survey participants. Youth today are very much driven by technology. They are also very used to being entertained and stimulated. Unfortunately, taking a survey isn’t always the most exciting activity one could do with one’s time.

Educating the next generation to the importance of market research is the first step in getting participation. This is a very large initiative and may need the full support of the industry as a whole in terms of marketing and advertising. Schools and universities are probably the best places to start. Something to think about!

There is debate in the industry today

As far as making research fun and exciting, there is debate in the industry today as to the bias “gamifying” surveys creates. I myself have posted before on being aware of the potential traps utilizing technology just because it exists. The participant needs to be thoughtfully providing honest and open responses to questions and not simply enjoy the experience of taking the survey. For this reason, more research needs to be put into investing rather than simply into making surveys games.

New landscapes

There have been a number of new elements added to the survey mix; web/mobile surveying, crowdsourcing, research panels, and market research online communities all provide new sources of data collection participants. Panels lend themselves particularly well to younger respondents due to the fact they are being paid and typically can complete a number of studies quickly and easily using mobile devices (the young person’s trusty side arm!).

Would you like an incentive with that?

Credit: Within Advertising

Credit: Within Advertising

From my experience, the youth today tend to be less motivated and making the surveys easy to get in front of the respondents is going to be key for getting participation. Incentives are also going to play a bigger and bigger role in getting completes.

Last but not least, another consideration is having research topics that are very specifically relevant to the target audience. Having a survey pop up on a teenager’s smart phone as they walk out of McDonald’s on their experience of the meal they just took along with an incentive for a free meal just might do the trick. This employs smart interviewing technologies and expensive incentives but will give the edge on getting the completes needed!

I welcome your thoughts and comments. Do not hesitate to post your thoughts below and I will respond. You can also contact me at

“PS: If you think this is information other research specialists might find useful, tweet about it!’”

Let us help you.

Discover how we can help YOUR organization solve its current survey needs.