Online survey tools have been around forever. So it’s no surprise that there are a number of options to choose from out there. For businesses of any size, choosing the best online survey tools can be a little confusing given the sheer number of vendors, but here are some things to keep in mind as you evaluate options.
Standardized or Decentralized Surveys?
Not all online survey tools are designed to fit all situations so you need to understand how to match your needs with the vendors’ strengths. There are a number of great online survey tools out there that can do a capable job of gathering feedback about whatever you’d like to measure. From free or cheap tools like SurveyMonkey, Typeform or Google Forms, to enterprise class vendors like Qualtrics, Survale and Momentive to name a few.
While one off basic survey tools are quite capable of ad hoc surveys here and there, many don’t provide the kind of features that allow organizations to centrally manage and organize their feedback programs in one place. Many companies have so many licenses for these one-off tools that they can’t keep track of them (or the overall money they are costing the organization).
Many organizations survey customers, employees, and vendors, while at the same time doing market and product research. Market research, customer feedback and employee feedback all share some common metrics that, when analyzed together, can provide stunning insights. That’s tough to do when groups are using five different survey tools that don’t talk to each other and don’t use a consistent approach to gathering data. The result is silos of information that leave a lot of value on the table.
What Are You Measuring?
General survey tools can provide general insights. In other words, good market research tools have content and features built in based on the vendors’ experience in the industry. You may know the best questions to ask, but a specialized vendor has built its tool to provide options in how to ask them, when to ask them and how to interpret the results more effectively.
For example, an HR department may have several feedback programs running constantly. Their recruiting department may be surveying candidates to optimize their hiring approach. They may be surveying new employees to monitor and improve their onboarding process. They may have a passive listening survey available on a central communication portal to monitor ideas, complaints, etc. They may have an annual benefits survey to understand the value their employees get out of the various options. They may gather feedback after every internal training. They may send a pulse survey every month to gauge employee sentiment. Not to mention the annual employee engagement survey.
Choosing a vendor that specializes in talent feedback would be a good choice in this case. And one that can organize and analyze all of those programs in one place. You could probably make any enterprise system work, but the amount of customization and just plain “work arounds” you have to go through to get surveys in the hands of the right people at the right time, makes it difficult to meet your employees where they are, when they are ready to provide feedback.
Do You Want to Send Surveys or Get Answers?
You want to get answers, right? Well, choose wisely then. Think of the example above. Imagine the work that goes into gathering a list together and sending ad hoc surveys for each of these programs. This is precisely why many feedback programs fail: The sheer heavy lifting of constantly sending out surveys.
A few platforms remove this obstacle by automating these processes. Some do this better than others. When a survey tool can be integrated with your HR Management System, your payroll provider, your applicant tracking system, your CRM, your marketing platform, etc., it enables organizations to be able to trigger survey messages based on transactions in your core system.
For example, rather than sending out a candidate satisfaction survey to all past candidates once a year, every candidate can get a feedback request after each interview, each job offer, each onboarding step, etc. Or when a case closes in your customer service system, each customer gets a feedback request. Or when a training is marked complete in your learning management system, students automatically get a feedback request.
This kind of capability bakes feedback into the core of each program. It eliminates the prohibitive busy work of sending out surveys. It provides real time data that you can act on. And it takes you out of the surveying game and into the answers game. Twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year.
Of course, if you are OK with extra work and limitations cheap online survey tools, there are plenty out there. If you are more interested in solving your feedback issues and building feedback into the core of your business, it pays to spend some time learning about the options available.