Text to Change: Striving for social impact while overcoming data collection challenges


Striving for social impact while overcoming data collection challenges

Victoria Nakato

In my job as program assistant at the Text to Change (TTC) call center in Kampala I encounter many different challenges which I am eager to overcome and learn from. In this blog, I would like to share these challenges and solutions with you so we can all benefit from these learnings.

I started working at the TTC call center in 2012. This call center was founded that same year and is partially funded by SIDA and offers the opportunity to connect with audiences and obtain a wealth of useful data quickly and efficiently in different local languages. Although we have conducted several successful surveys since the startup, running a high quality call center comes with its challenges.

Our first challenge we had to overcome is the many different languages that are spoken in East Africa. Therefore we contracted call center agents who are well-versed and fluent in several languages spoken around East Africa, which enables us to reach a wide audience quickly and efficiently. Thus we are able to conduct in-depth interviews with our respondents from miles away in a local language that they are comfortable with. The call center also operates outside of Uganda and in recent projects we have successfully done interviews in Tanzania, Malawi and Ghana for example.

Secondly, we sometimes run into poor mobile phone network connections in remote areas, which can make it difficult to reach intended audiences. However, our dedicated call center agents are persistent and through repeated attempts, we are eventually able to contact these hard-to-reach respondents. Other problems with existent infrastructure such as power outages are rapidly dealt with through the use of a generator and with the presence of stand-by technicians of our technical team to quickly remedy any issues that may arise.

It is important to us that our respondents have a pleasant experience engaging with our call center agents. A third challenge could be keeping our call center agents excited, as there is a chance they become bored with the repetitive nature of their work. In these situations, we encourage them to take breaks, speak freely to management about their issues and generally aim to promote a good working environment focused on their well-being and their contributions to the growth of the organization. Besides these encouragements we conduct frequent trainings with our call center agents, conduct client satisfaction surveys and frequently monitor the progress of the agents throughout the data collection process

It is very crucial to overcome these challenges because the call center system has become an efficient means of data collection based on the fact that we can obtain quality data from respondents through direct communication with our intended recipients. Surveys allow interactive communication for data collection on aspects of life such as health, education, economic development and so. Therefore we will continue to find solutions for challenges as data collection can contribute to social impact. All our surveys were instrumental in bettering the lives of our respondents and this is exactly the social impact we are striving for.

TTC’s dedicated project-team in Uganda

Claudia Cornelisse
Claudia Cornelisse
I work at the communications department as an intern.

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