If you are searching for a technology solution to manage your feedback initiatives, you are not alone. Given the complexity and infrastructure needed, it makes good business sense to work with a technology provider for your online survey, enterprise feedback, and marketing system, instead of shouldering the expense of building a system in house.Download Whitepaper
Most organizations have found it is not just the expense of building a custom system that is prohibitive, but also the cost and resources needed to maintain the technology over the long term. In addition, custom-built systems are designed by people with limited expertise.
Consequently, the features and support cannot compare to established provider whose systems have been proven to increase participation, eliminate redundant tools and facilitate reporting and analysis out-of-the-box. There are several technology solutions to help organizations collect feedback from key constituents. When choosing a provider, there are a number of key questions to identify the right solution for your needs:
- How does the provider compare to systems on the market?
- Does the provider allow for targeted and personalized communication?
- Does the provider offer a comprehensive contact management system?
- Does the provider allow you to brand your surveys and survey communication?
- Does the provider have sophisticated email marketing capabilities and deliverability reporting?
- Does the provider have a breadth of question types?
- Does the provider enhance your feedback collection through survey logic?
- Can the provider alert you when questions are answered a specific way?
- How robust is the provider's reporting engine?
- Does the provider offer integration with your CRM system?
- Is the provider's system user-friendly?
- Will the provider go the extra mile to make sure your feedback initiatives are successful?
Not all software is created equal. There are many online survey and enterprise feedback management solutions out there: basic solutions, mid grade solutions, and high end
solutions. Low cost tools don't offer the flexibility, customization, or level of automation
required to create effective feedback campaigns. On the other hand, high end solutions often
have too many features, are difficult to use, and are costly, even for Fortune 500 organizations.
Many providers offer all three or a combination, so when you searching for a solutionmake sure you have a clear understanding of your needs and your provider's capabilities. The right online survey and feedback management solution for your organization is dependent on the complexity of your feedback program – from a design and reporting perspective, the internal importance of the initiative, and amount of flexibility and customization you require. Being able to automate processes is key even if it's a small change such as email reminders sent automatically to increase responses or improved report dissemination and quick access to data, the time savings across the feedback program can be significant.
Nothing tells customers you don't care more than sending an email communication with the greeting "Dear valued customer/client." Email marketing is one of the easiest and
most effective ways to collect survey responses. However, with the increase of SPAM
and email abuse, it's harder to capture your respondent's attention. Personalizing and
targeting your message helps separate your email from the unwanted ones.
In addition to sending personalized messages ("Dear John, Thanks for your recent purchase of XYZ product…"), you should take the time to create engaging, personalized survey experiences. This is easy by employing various survey logics so respondents only see questions relevant to them either based on prior responses or contact information, as well as adding customized messages within the questionnaire. Make sure your provider has the capability to tap into your contact database and pull information into the survey. Personalizing both the communication and respondent experience dramatically increases survey participation.
Address book management is the life blood of successful feedback program. Without
correct contact information for customers, employees, or panel members, survey
response rates suffer. With a systematically managed contact database, survey authors
can keep contact information updated, automatically cleanse bad data, comply with CAN
SPAM laws, and implement segmented, personalized email campaigns. It's critical your
web survey and feedback management solution is fully automated. Surprisingly, many
feedback systems lack basic contact management functionality to properly segment and
target your database.
If you already have a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place you'd like to use, investigate integration options that will tie into your CRM. Many enterprise feedback management solutions have integrations with major CRM solutions, such as Salesforce.com, or they offer an application programming interface (API) to enable twoway data transmission. By integrating your systems, you'll spend less time moving data between systems giving you more time to focus on analyzing data to make informed business decisions.
Surveys are an extension of your brand. As such, you should demand a system which allows you to fully customize the look and feel of your survey, as well as any survey communication. Settling for a solution without the flexibility to customize the look and feel of emails and surveys to match your brand could seriously damage your respondent's opinion of your organization. Furthermore, customizing each touch point signals to your respondent the survey request is legitimate. Professional looking surveys have proven to increase survey participation rates.
Email has been proven as the most cost effective means of customer and employee
communication. However, not all survey systems include robust email marketing. In addition to promoting immediate responses, email is the best way to manage communications and track delivery. In addition to personalization, attractive emails can have a huge impact on participation rates. A business-grade technology solution will provide survey authors with the tools to create compelling survey invitation. This should include not only professionally designed invitation templates, but also a robust HTML editor allowing the author to create their own invitations without HTML knowledge.
A professional grade survey and feedback management solution will come equipped with sophisticated features like automated email scheduling, ability to send HTML or plain text, delivery and open-rate tracking, reporting, and automatic address book updates. Survey performance will suffer without these basic features, making it harder to have confidence in the collected data.
When crafting a survey, it's important to utilize multiple question types to keep the survey engaging and reduce respondent bias. No one wants to fill out a boring 15 question multiple choice survey. We've been seeing that format since kindergarten when we took our first test. Make sure your provider can offer a multitude of question types so you can make the survey more interesting. Some of the must have question types include single choice, multiple select, matrix (single and multiple choice, spreadsheet, and side-by-side), rank order, constant sum, open text box, and data lists. If the provider provides interactive question types, such as sliding scales or drag and drop, including these questions will increase the respondent engagement when completing the survey, thereby reducing abandonment.
Survey authors are able to drill deeper and collect more detailed feedback by utilizing survey logic. While there are a variety of logic types, the must haves include subquestions, skip and branch logic, pipe logic, and advanced logic based on contact and response filters. A survey employing logic tailors the respondent experience by skipping past irrelevant questions and exposing additional questions to better understand responses. Using logic in the survey design decreases respondent abandonment and gives the survey author more actionable feedback to share within the organization.
The key to surveys is to make sure your audience knows you are listening. Imagine you were reviewing customer feedback and a customer had a truly negative experience with your support center. After their call, they completed your customer satisfaction survey. You need to solve this problem immediately! Ensuring your survey software provider can send you automatic alerts after someone completes a survey is essential. Make sure the survey provider supports various versions of this feature allowing notification for a specific question answer or contact field, based on a respondent's score, or all completed surveys. If you have different people in charge of various departments or products, you may even want to make sure the provider supports multiple alerts on the same survey. Utilizing survey alerts allows you to notify the correct parties and respond quickly when necessary.
This is by far the most important survey feature. This is why you started surveying in the first place. It's important to select a feedback management provider that's going to give
you more than just the raw data. If you accept just the raw data, you're going to spend
hours tabulating and analyzing data to draw conclusions, create professional reports, and
disseminate findings throughout the organization. Look for a survey provider that has
pre-built reports so you can spend more time on strategic decisions and less time trying
to create the report.
In addition to looking for a provider with pre-built reports, it's helpful if the provider allows you to customize the reports to slice and compare the data the way you need to see it. Good technology providers will give you the ability to "park" the reports to easily disseminate the information on demand, and even make it eyes-only if the information is sensitive. Instead of having to re-run reports every time someone asks, you can run the report once, park it, and allow others to view the report on demand. Parking reports makes it simple to share results, in real time, with anyone in your organization.
Not all survey solutions will allow you to integrate with your customer relationship management (CRM) system. It may seem like a little thing, but streamlining the flow of data between your CRM and survey system impacts the entire organization. If you're conducting a customer survey of any kind, it's critical to have that information in your CRM system for the customer history.
The balance between functionality and accessibility of your chosen technology solution is important. Again, the right fit is a crucial component here. Many providers claim their system is easy to use but their limited functionality cannot satisfy the most common survey and feedback management needs. Although more sophisticated systems require an initial investment to learn about the range of features, the accumulated time saved on automating administrative tasks can be staggering when you know how to use a capable system. In addition, the best providers offer survey building support, taking you and your team through the process for the best results possible.
Your web survey and feedback management technology provider should offer assistance in a wide variety of areas such as building surveys for you, proposing effective survey marketing plans, designing impressive survey invitations, and general consultation on how to make your feedback program successful. Look for a system provider that wants to work with you to ensure improvement and long term success.
If you trust your feedback management to a third party, it is essential to make sure the provider has a stable business model. A few critical questions to ask the prospective provider: how many full time employees are on staff, what is their credit rating and most importantly, are they profitable? Most survey programs are ongoing, with projects happening every year and sometimes multiple times per year. To safeguard your success, hard-earned dollars, and survey data, be sure your system of choice will be around in the years to come.
When selecting a technology provider you need to find a provider who can work with
you long-term. It is vital to understand the capacity in which the provider can and will
support your organization. Do they have a skilled service team to answer the phone and
provide assistance in a timely manner? How do they plan to improve their technology
solution over time? It's important to know what an organization has done in the past
and determine whether they have the aptitude to maintain their product and provide the
assistance you need. Ask your provider how many people they have on their support
staff, what is their ratio of support staff to number of customers, and if they charge extra
for customer support.
In addition to ensuring there is enough live support staff if you have a question, you should ask about training. Do they provide training? If they do, is it mandatory and is there an extra cost? Even if you choose a user-friendly tool, it's important to make sure there's training available to help you refine your process overtime and learn how to utilize new features.
An important ingredient of the client-provider relationship is service. It is essential to be a valued client and not just a number in the support queue. The buyer should be given a single point of contact and/or an account executive to work with to achieve long term strategic initiatives. It is frustrating to have to explain who you are, the nature of your program, and the issue at hand each time a problem arises. Make sure your provider has designed the proper channels for clients to obtain immediate quality product support. In addition, successful providers will provide a resource to continue to educate you on ways to improve your program and help you achieve your business goals.