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Leader Insights

Avoiding Survey Hell

October 4, 2012

This is a guest post contribution by James McKey, a beta program manager at Symantec and longtime user of the Centercode platform. In this post, James goes into the pitfalls of beta surveys, including how to use Centercode to give your testers the best survey experience. — Emily @ Centercode

We’ve all suffered through survey hell at one time or another…

“How many more pages do I have to click through on this thing?”

“I already told you I don’t like Gouda cheese three pages ago! Why are you asking again?”

“Come on, I’m doing you a favor! Just tell me when this torture is going to END!”

When faced with a seemingly never-ending survey, I’m tempted to make up responses as fast as possible until I reach the first free form field where I can write, “This is a cruel and unusual survey. I made up all my answers since you refused to tell me how far along I was while the questions droned on forever. Pfffffbbbbbbtttt!” Surely if I’m tempted to do this, then there’s a significant chance your beta testers feel the same way when using “run of the mill” survey systems.

And here’s why I wanted to do this blog for Centercode. I LOVE their survey system. And I don’t mean that as an exaggeration — I am truly in love with it to the point that it would absolutely break my heart if I wasn’t able to use it anymore (I hope their contract renewal guy doesn’t read this!). Here are just a few of the ways I use Connect’s survey system to get feedback from my users while not tipping them over into the “insanity” column:

  1. Keep everything on one page. This means there is no unending “next”, “next”, “next”, “oh please just shoot me now!”. Connect does this automatically, while making sure it’s still easy on the eyes.
  2. Make sure questions ONLY show up if a certain answer was picked for an earlier question. So if the first question was “Do you use Microsoft Office?” and they answer “Yes”, then you have a new question show up in real time (in Connect it instantly shows up in a different grey shading) that asks “What components of Office are you using?”.
  3. Don’t sacrifice usability for functionality. A good beta program will use surveys more than once so it shouldn’t be hard to create them. Connect offers both by allowing you to easily create new surveys, and see how your testers will see them. The creation and setup of the surveys in Connect is one of the most intuitive you’ll find and yet is still rich in features. (There are one or two other features of Centercode that are not as intuitive…I’m looking at you, feedback workflow.)
  4. Make sure you have a way to (gently) nudge inactive users. Connect lets you query for users that have not done the survey and send a “poke” email asking them to stop slacking. This helps prevent the early responders from getting annoyed by “blast” pokes when they already did the work.

I promise you, I get no kickbacks from doing this blog. No discount on future renewals with Centercode. I simply want the bad survey systems of the world to be banished forever. So please, either use Centercode for your customer surveys or at least learn from their mastery of the art form.

Would anyone like to see these features in action? Write a comment and I’ll post a video that walks through my favorite tricks on Connect.

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