Technology has brought us cheaper manufacturing methods, faster results across almost all industries, and the possibility of a robot future. And whilst the norm for companies wanting to perform surveys used to involve a telephone book or a clipboard, technology has had an effect there as well – cheap surveys are well and truly here.

Now, far and away the cheapest method of gathering data is via automated surveys. These can be conducted over email, phone or SMS, and don’t involve you paying a researcher – just implementing an automated workflow.

This yields several important benefits. It’s easy to gather a large number of responses, because you’re not restricted to a certain number of researchers or even a certain time of day that they work. Data can be collected and analysed in realtime, which in turn means action can be taken quickly where necessary. And removing a human researcher from the equation removes any human bias, either in results analysis or leading the customer towards a specific result. It also means you will get the results you seek within minutes of the events you are measuring, not months later when the results no longer have any relevance or meaning to you.

Overall, you’ll find your cost per survey falls dramatically when you automate the process – a cheap survey with high quality results is what you will get.

There are a number of stages in preparing to launch an automated survey:

Objectives – don’t collect data because you’ve read an article saying that collecting data is important. Set out your objectives clearly, this will inform almost all stages of your automated survey implementation.

Script development – this is arguably the most crucial element, and spending time perfecting this will pay dividends. Make sure you work with a company who shows evidence of understanding this (you can read our article about scripts and why they’re important here on this Survey Wiki Blog)

Triggers – select the stage at which a customer will be asked to complete a survey. Will it be at the end of the purchase? After speaking to a customer service representative? Consider surveying the customer throughout the journey to get a full view of how your business is performing (read more about that here on this Survey Wiki Blog)

Methodology – whilst automated surveys can be done over the phone, email or via SMS, consider which will work best for your customer. Choosing the right methodology will yield a higher response rate (and you’ll avoid survey fatigue) and be a more pleasing experience for your recipient.

Reports – ensure that the data you’re collecting is being reported meaningfully. Whose responsibility will it be to get these reports, and what reports do you need? Do they need to be delivered as alerts if scores are exceptional, so you can take action?

Actions – before anyone hits ‘go’ put together a plan on what constitutes ‘action needed’. What’s the exact number of ‘unsatisfied’ responses that will trigger an action, and who is responsible for implementing that action?

So you’ve launched your survey – what now?
Review, review, review!

Not just the results (you’ve already set up reports, and assigned someone to look at them) but also the scripts. Are the questions still clear and are they yielding the results you expected? If you’re running an ongoing survey don’t be afraid to tweak these over the course of the survey, although record when these tweaks happened so you can bear that in mind when you attribute any change in data.

Review the conversion statistics as well – is your survey being answered by the number of people you hoped? Consider what you can do to increase this. Now you have some data, your survey company should be able to help you do this.

Get input from your team – whilst you don’t want them collecting data, feedback on how they feel the surveys are performing is useful.

The key to implementing a cheap survey method via automation is in partnering with the right company. To speak to someone at Virtuatel about why they’re market leaders in this field, email here.

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