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2003 SSBF: Methodology Appendix EE Screen Reader version

Appendix EE

Final Data Collection Debriefing Memo

A National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago Logo

February 15, 2004

To: John D. Wolken

From: Nancy Potok

Re: 2003 Survey of Small Business Finances

Summary Notes of Final Telephone Interviewer Debriefing


Federal Reserve Board: Traci Mach, John Wolken

NORC: Bob Bailey, Mireya Dominguez, Terri Kowalczyk, Nancy Potok, Bill Sherman, Ben Skalland, NORC telephone interviewers and supervisors

  1. Introduction

On February 9, 2005, NORC conducted a six-hour SSBF interviewer debriefing session. Six interviewers and four supervisors participated; all participants had extensive SSBF experience. The session was moderated by five members of the project team and observed by Traci Mach and John Wolken of the FRB. The session was held in NORC's call center in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Findings from the debriefing are qualitative. Interviewers were invited to the debriefing partly because of the breadth or depth of their SSBF experience - they brought a richness of commentary or insight to the discussion - and do not necessarily represent the population of SSBF interviewers.

  1. General Observations
    • Call it a study. Interviewers say it is more effective for gaining cooperation to refer to SSBF as a study rather than a survey. The word survey was sometimes a roadblock, making some respondents think the call was for market research or telemarketing. The word study, on the other hand, tended to convey a more serious, academic purpose.
    • Respondents vary greatly in how much they know. Respondents' knowledge of business and financial terminology - and their interest in the financial end of their business - varied widely. Some respondents appeared to be insulted or bored when having terminology read to them. Other respondents needed long definitions. An interviewer suggested two versions of the questionnaire, one shorter for more knowledgeable respondents, one longer for respondents who need all of the definitions.
    • Many respondents dislike the balance sheet and income statement sections. Some respondents said upfront that they would only give ranges, and were then put off by having to go through a long series of amount and estimation questions. Interviewers noted, however, that sometimes in these situations respondents would cave in and start giving exact amounts just to move it along.
    • Teamwork leads to better individual work. The interviewers enjoyed and appreciated the support from supervisors and other interviewers.
    • Put greater emphasis on the study's purpose in the questionnaire. It is important for interviewers to be able to explain the purpose of the survey to the respondents, to make respondents feel their participation is worthwhile. Interviewers would like to see the purpose stressed more in the questionnaire introduction, since many respondents didn't read or skimmed the advance mailing. A supervisor suggested a national public-service announcement about SSBF, so that the survey would be in respondents' minds when then were called.

3. Training

4. Gaining Cooperation During Screening

Participants identified numerous techniques for gaining cooperation during screening with gatekeepers, proxies and owners. Techniques that worked for some interviewers did not necessarily work for others. Generally, these experienced interviewers tended to find their own voice early on in the study, and spent the rest of the project perfecting their voice and adapting it to new situations.

5. Gaining Cooperation During Main Interview

6. Screener Questionnaire

7. Main Questionnaire

8. Job Aids

9. Contact Materials

10. Interviewer Incentives

11. Locating

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