This interview protocol is designed to be used by staff or volunteers with clients and program participants. It can be done individually or in a group, on the phone or face-to-face. It can be translated into any language on the fly by the interviewer, so it doesn’t require respondents to use English or to read and write. Questions may be simplified and explained during the interview.
- Likes about agency/program
- Changes as a result of agency/program (related to Most Significant Change)
- Suggestion poll (up to 3 suggestions)
Method of data collection
The instrument invites clients and participants to recommend changes to the program based on their perspective as experts in their own experiences. It is an invitation to contribute as a partner, not a way to collect unstructured ideas and reactions. The interviewer should attempt to capture suggestions using wording that can be reported to staff without revealing identity, and clearly enough that action can be taken. In other words, interviewers should strip responses of identifiable information and summarize suggestions in clear actionable statements.
We suggest that each staff person carry out one interview per month, with results discussed at monthly staff meetings. Alternatively you could ask volunteers to interview a small sample every couple of months. Interviewers can talk to their own clients or intentionally talk only to clients who they do not work with. Whatever your sampling method, describe it in the SIS SharePoint ‘Active Surveys’ list to provide context for the reports.
The instrument assumes that you are not using a random sample. Instead, think of it as extending an invitation to act as an advisor to the program, and select people who represent key groups and also are willing to reveal their opinions. Methodologically it draws from usability engineering methods in which a sample size of one to three can be meaningful. One of the main benefits is that staff gain insight into their own programs. In that way it is an organizational change intervention in itself.
ABOUT: This interview protocol is meant to give clients a chance to share their experience with your agency/program and make suggestions for improvement.
BEFORE YOU START:
Please read through the interview protocol before your interview, so that you’re familiar with all the questions.
The protocol is a script, but there’s no need to stick to it word-for-word. Feel free to rephrase questions, using words that your respondent can understand.
You can either enter details directly into the online form, or print the interview, complete the paper version by hand, then enter your results here.
DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS:
This interview invites clients to make suggestions for improvement, but you may also hear complaints. Please follow your organization’s complaints protocol in responding to any complaints.
TIPS FOR CONDUCTING INTERVIEWS:
Good interviewers work with their respondent to understand, respond to, and capture what is said. Here are some effective techniques:
1. Pay attention: Your respondents are experts on their experience. Treat them as an expert who has agreed to give you advice. Create a comfortable atmosphere. Clear away distractions (phone, laptop), and focus your attention on your respondent. Give your respondent time to think and speak.
2. Reflect: Try to capture and re-phrase key ideas, to confirm that your understanding is correct.
3: Observe: Pay attention to nonverbal cues, like facial expressions, gesture and posture. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears.
4: Empathize: Try to understand the respondent’s emotions and feelings, and identify and acknowledge them. Listen in a supportive, nonjudgmental way.
5. Clarify: Use clarifying and probing questions to show your respondent that you’re engaged. Encourage them to reframe or expand on important ideas.
6. Summarize: Towards the end of the interview, briefly summarize what you have heard. Work with your respondent to refine their suggestion(s) and determine their importance.
Introduction and Impact
Our agency is currently working to improve some of the programs we offer. One way we do this is by asking the people who participate in our programs how we can make them better.
Today we’re going to talk about [Program]. I’ll start by asking what you like about the program, and how it may have changed things for you. We’ll finish by coming up with some suggestions for improvement.
Let’s start with something positive: What do you like about our agency/program?
How did coming here change things for you?
Suggestions: Let’s talk about how we could make our agency/program better. Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
FOR AN INTERPERSONAL INTERVIEW: Encourage your respondent to come up with one or more suggestions that you can bring back to your team. Note down their suggestion(s), confirm with them that you’ve captured what they have to say, then ask how important each suggestion is.
While this interview includes spaces for three suggestions, you don’t need to fill each space. You may want to collect just one or two. If your respondent has no suggestions at all, don’t push them. They may not feel comfortable making suggestions, or they may think that everything is fine!
FOR A GROUP INTERVIEW: Go around the group, note down everyone’s ideas, and then work together to select the top 1-3 suggestions and rate their importance.
SUGGESTION CATEGORIES: The question “what is this suggestion about?” is for you to complete, not your respondent. Filling this in will make your analysis much easier later on.
Suggestion #1 (repeated three times) (open ended)
How important is this suggestion? (Very important, Important, Not very important)
What is this suggestion about? (Check all that apply: Skilled and competent service, Caring and respectful staff, Location, hours and languages, Facilities and equipment, Wait times, Other)
Is there anything else that you’d like to talk about today? Anything else we should know about your experience with our program(s)?
Thank you for your time. Do you have any questions about this interview?