Ownership Mode

Ownership Mode allows you to assign certain phone numbers to particular interviewers. This typically occurs when there are long, involved interviews, or when there are particular interviewers that have the skills or knowledge needed to talk to a particular group of your sample.

Another use is to assign a number to an interviewer after they have started talking to the respondent, such as when the call is suspended. This allows the respondent to continue the interview with the same interviewer.

The idea is that a piece of sample can be owned by a specific interviewer, and if it is so owned then only the owner is ever going to see that number. We also provide facilities to override this ownership if necessary.

To summarize these features, sample can be initially assigned to an interviewer, or can be assigned once contact has been made. Once that sample is assigned, the system will only present it to the particular interviewer, unless the Ownership mode is turned off for the whole study or the specific number is requested by another interviewer.

If the specific number requested, the interviewer is warned that the phone record is owned by another interviewer. At that time, the interviewer may override the ownership for this call, in which case the call will still be owned by the other interviewer; or he may take the number for himself, in which case the number will belong to him from now on. Both of these features may be handled internally by the program or with special keywords by the interviewer.

NOTE: For webSurvent, the interviewer ID will be filled in as “WEBS” in call histories. This is so you can distinguish between histories saved from SURVENT, webSurvent or webCATI interviews.


You initially assign the phone record to a specific interviewer using FONEBULD. There, place “ID:xxxx” anywhere between one space after the phone number and before column 22 of the initial phone record; xxxx would be replaced by the interviewer ID you want to assign to that record.

When the phone file is built with ID:xxxx in a phone record, the interviewer ID assigned is stored in the OWNER field in that record. If there is an ID in that field, when Survent searches for a number to call and that number is scheduled to be called, the interviewer with the ID specified will receive that number if they are available.

If that interviewer is not available, the number will go into the OWNED records stack until the interviewer signs on or the number is specifically released using FONEUTIL’s option “B”. The OWNED stack will be checked each time Survent goes to pick up a number to see if the interviewer asking for a number to call has a number available. If released, the number will be rescheduled for the next day as if no call was ever attempted.

If you have many owned numbers in the phone file and few to no numbers that are not owned, you may cause the server to search far down when it seeks a number that can be given to the current interviewer. Ownership mode works best with either relatively small sample files (< 2000 numbers) or a low percentage of owned numbers in the file (20%).


The phone file has a special switch called OWNER_MODE that can be set to YES or NO using FONEUTIL or SURVSUPR. If it is set to NO, the system behaves like it normally would if the phone records in the file were not assigned to a specific interviewer. This in effect releases all numbers that are still active to be able to be called by any interviewer on the system. If it is set back to YES, once again numbers assigned to specific interviewers will only be offered to those interviewers.

When in FONEUTIL and looking at a specific phone record with the F or # options, you can specifically change the owner, delete the owner (thus releasing the phone record to other interviewers), or just view the following information related to ownership mode:

  • OWNER: The current owner of the phone record, or, if blank, the record is available to any interviewer.
  • OLD_OWNER: If the record was owned by someone and the ownership was changed in any way, the last owner is recorded here.
  • OWNER_CHANGED: If the owner was changed in this record, this will indicate by whom.
    • “1” means it was changed by an interviewer indicating “NEWOWNER” to get a record that was previously owned.
    • “2” means it was changed by FONEUTIL.
  • OWNER_MODE: Is set to the value of OWNER_MODE In the phone file itself when the record was added to the phone file in FONEBULD.
    • You may have some records in the file with OWNER_MODE set to YES and some set to NO, but this is just informational.
    • The switch in the phone file header controls whether Ownership mode type operations are done to the file as a whole.


As stated earlier, when getting phone numbers, only numbers which are not owned or which are owned by the interviewer requesting the number will be returned, unless a specific number is asked for. Once a phone record is available in Survent, new ownership may be established either programmatically or with the use of interviewer keywords.

In the case where a number is available, you can assign ownership to the current interviewer with the PHONE,ASSIGN_CURRENT_INTERVIEWER_OWNER question. Interviewers cannot assign a number to themselves by keyword; it must be set up by the Survent programmer to allow reassignment. Execution of the PHONE,ASSIGN_CURRENT_INTERVIEWER_OWNER writes the ID of the interviewer doing the interview into the owner field of the phone record.

A typical example of this is within the Suspend block, where you might want to assign ownership to this interviewer, since they have already established a rapport with the respondent.



INTERVIEWER: Do you wish to retain this call as a callback, or allow other interviewers to also make the callback?
1 Retain call
2 Release to other interviewers }



In this example, the interviewer is asked whether they wish to retain contact with the respondent for future callbacks. If yes, the PHONE,ASSIGN_CURRENT_INTERVIEWER_OWNER execute and this interviewer is assigned as the new owner of the record.

Getting Numbers Owned by Others Using Standard Prompts

In the case where the number is specifically requested using the standard PHONE,GET_SPECIFIC_NUMBER question prompt, and the number is previously owned by someone else, a message will be returned that the number is owned by someone else, and the interviewer will be re-prompted for a phone number to call. At that point, they can enter one of two keywords to get access to the phone number:

  • OVERRIDE: The interviewer will get the number even though it is owned by someone else. However, the ownership of the number will not be changed in the case where the call is not completed and rescheduled.
  • NEWOWNER: This will retrieve the number and the ownership will be changed to the ID of the requesting interviewer.
    • In this case, when the phone number is returned to the phone file as a complete or for rescheduling, the previous owner ID will be written to the OLD_OWNER field, and the OWNER_CHANGED field will be set to ‘1’.

Getting Numbers Owned by Others Using Internal Controls

The PHONE,GET_SPECIFIC_NUMBER statement has a format which records a code for the result of the attempt to find the number requested. You can then write code that will allow you to continue if you got a phone record, or reset and/or abort if you did not.

If you use this mode and the phone number is owned by another interviewer, the letters “OA” will be recorded in the phone status field, meaning ‘owned by another’. Since there is no prompt at which the interviewer might enter override keywords, the OVERRIDE and NEWOWNER keywords can be programmatically executed by using the PHONE,OVERRIDE_OWNER and PHONE, ASSIGN_NEW_INTERVIEWER_OWNER questions respectively.

Here is an example of controlling specific phone number access using internal controls:


INTERVIEWER: Enter the phone number to get, or press <Enter> to just get the next number.



INTERVIEWER: The number is currently owned by another interviewer (\[OWNER]).

Do you want to OVERRIDE the ownership at this time, but let \[OWNER] have it later, or Do you want to become the NEW OWNER of this phone record?

1 OVERRIDE ownership for now
2 Become the NEW OWNER
3 Drop the record and get another }




In this example, QPHONENUMER is a VARIABLE,PHONE_NUMBER_FORMAT question which allows valid phone numbers including dashes (-) or parentheses around the numbers.

The VARIABLE,PHONE_NUMBER_FORMAT will keep this as a 10-digit number, which is read by the PHONE,GET_SPECIFIC_NUMBER (because it is referenced as the place from which to get the phone number).

If the number returns a status code of ‘OA’, the interviewer is given the choice of overriding ownership, claiming ownership, or trying for another number. Notice that we can show the current owner from the phone record on the screen with \[OWNER].

If they decide to override or become the new owner, we execute the proper phone question to do so, and continue with the questionnaire.