Alternative to Survey Monkey telephone survey service Precision Polling

Alternative to Survey Monkey telephone survey service Precision Polling

Many precision polling customers will be looking for an alternative to Survey Monkey as they announced earlier in the year by email and their sign-in page they had decided to close down the automated telephone survey business they acquired in 2010.

Alternative to survey monkey precision polling

Alternative to survey monkey precision polling

Obviously, VIRTUATell is a great alternative to Survey Monkey telephone surveys, as we provide the features found at Precision Polling plus many, many more.  We are not a free – or even very-low-cost – automated telephone survey service but we are a more “hands-on” service, and pride ourselves on the flexibility and responsiveness of our team.  Conducting many millions of telephone surveys per month, VIRTUATell is the market leader, based on survey volume.

As their website states “We regret to inform you that Precision Polling will shut down on March 31, 2016. We are not allowing new users to sign-up, and will no longer process payments. “ you may like to consider VIRTUATell as the alternative to Survey Monkey that you seek.

And why are SurveyMonkey closing Precision Polling? One can only assume that either they have not discovered how to make a profit from automated telephone surveys or the telephone channel does not fit into their longer term plans.

VIRTUATell would happily discuss with anyone without a home for their automated telephone surveys, the conversion of their current surveys and polls to our Synaptum platform – the alternative to Survey Monkey.

Contact VIRTUATell today to find out how we can provide an alternative to Survey Monkey

For those that did not see the email to customers, some of the details published on their website are as follows;

Precision Polling is closing on March 31, 2016

We are reaching out to let you know Precision Polling will no longer be available as of March 31, 2016. SurveyMonkey will continue business as usual, and there will be no impact to your use of the product.

Please make note of the following important changes that will go into effect on March 31, 2016.

You will not be able to sign into the website to download your data
You will not be able to make or receive phone calls using this system
Any purchased phone numbers will stop working and will be released to our provider
Unused account balances will expire
All your Precision Polling data will be completely erased from our systems within 60 days of termination
We strongly recommend that you download copies of all poll results before March 31, 2016. The steps to do so are:

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Customer Satisfaction 101: How to maximise customer satisfaction but still look out for number 1!

Customer Satisfaction 101: How to maximise customer satisfaction but still look out for number 1!

We live in a digital age. The tools that we have at our disposal – from interactive software that can answer phone calls, to email newsletters and websites that can answer the vast majority of questions a customer might have – have made customer service quicker, easier, and fundamentally cheaper for almost all businesses. But this scale has brought traditional resource-based problems, seeing situations such as a customer spending hours on the phone for the next available operator.  So how can your business keep customers satisfied but also keep an eye on that all important bottom line? Let’s find out.

There are a million little ways of delighting your customer, but there are a number of key areas that you should strive to always make sure you’re covering in order to run a healthy business with repeat customers.

Managing expectations

A new salesman will fall into the same trap every time – over-promising to the client and leaving them unsatisfied. If that same salesman had been more conservative with his promises, and then exceeded them, he would have had a satisfied customer and a repeat client. In essence: don’t tell your customer or client that you can do more than you can!

There is of course a fine balance to be struck between aiming too low, and not living up to your own standards of performance, and aiming too high and leaving the customer with sky high expectations that you simply can’t meet. The ideal situation is to under-promise and over-deliver: a customer is never happier than when they get more than they expected to begin with.

Using feedback as a tool for growth

Customer satisfaction is impossible to ascertain without asking! Make sure you have a process in place to regularly find out how your business is performing. Automated customer surveys are ideal, as they remove the need for you to manually get in contact with people. But if that’s currently beyond your reach, consider emailing 10 customers a month to ask them about their experiences – you can often learn a lot about everything from your website to future product ideas.

If you do find that there are customers that are unsatisfied, don’t take complaints or feedback personally. Think of customers as people – not just customers. Dehumanizing customers and not dealing correctly with reviews doesn’t help them or you, particularly if it leads to you ignoring reviews altogether.  Salespeople recognize this as objection handling – the customer (or for salespeople, the lead) is outright telling you what you need to do or say in order to make them happy! So take their criticism or advice on board and do everything you can to make things better for them. Not only could this help retain that unhappy customer (or convince that stubborn lead), but it also creates a great customer-oriented image of your business that potential buyers love.

Listening to the Voice of the Customer

We spoke last week about the importance of listening to the Voice of the Customer. Let the customer speak, hear what they have to say, and offer what you can as a solution. A customer who doesn’t feel heard will leave the vast majority of the time. This also reiterates that listening is also just as important as finding the solution – no one wants to feel like they’ve been rushed off the phone without their needs being met.

Keeping long term customers happy

It’s an often cited statistic that it costs between 4 and 10 times the amount to recruit a new customer than it does to retain an old one, and yet many businesses still don’t appreciate the value in keeping long term customers satisfied.  Not only are these the customers who pay you on a repeat basis,  they bring business in to you through the power of word of mouth.  It’s important to not only survey new customers on their experience – it’s just as, if not more, relevant to ask your long term customers how they are feeling.

It’s not unusual for growth to see a fall in product standards and service quality.  One of the main ways of ensuring that doesn’t happen is to make sure there really are enough staff and not keep them spread too thin – this can mean more money spent on staff, but this money is made back by customer retention, meaning the books do balance!


If you’re at the beginning of your customer satisfaction journey, check out our blog for some more tips on how to make sure you’re maximizing your customers’ satisfaction.

Just What Is The Customer Happiness Index?

Happiness. It’s what we all strive for. It’s what’s used to measure the progress of the nation in Bhutan. And increasingly, it’s becoming a measurement that can predict the customer churn rate of a business.

The cold, hard fact is that if you want your business to succeed, you need to keep your customers happy. In fact, a recent study by Autotask found that 85% of service providers view customer satisfaction to be one of the most important metrics you can measure in your business.

But customer satisfaction can be measured in many ways. Traditionally, this has been using the Net Promoter Score™, Customer Effort and other indices, but some of these have come under criticism in recent years.

Increasingly, you may have seen people talk about a new metric – the Customer Happiness Index.

It was first developed by a company called Hubspot, a B2B inbound marketing business whose customers are looking for new ways to pull people towards their product or service without using direct marketing. To make this process less complex, but more analytical, they created the Customer Happiness Index to try to ‘maximise customers’ engagement’.

The Customer Happiness Index works by measuring three key metrics to identify which customers are likely to abandon the service and go somewhere else. In other words, how many and why customers are likely to churn.

First the CHI measures frequency of product use. Needless to say, a customer who uses a product more often than average is most likely happier with it too. This maxim applies broadly to all different kinds of products and services, from hotels to restaurants to Apple iPhone users.

Secondly, it measures breadth of product use. The logic of measuring this metric is obvious: one customer that uses more features of the product than another is more likely to be happy with it, and more likely to continue using it.

Lastly it identifies what HubSpot call the ‘sticky product features’. This metric identifies which features of your product or service make the customer stand out to the customer and keeps them stuck around, using your service and not that of the competition.

These measurements on their own are not foolproof, however – they do have their downsides. For instance, in an industry where there are many competitors to choose from, establishing and maintaining brand loyalty is all-important. But in an industry where a company might have a monopoly, whether a customer is loyal to the brand because they are happy with it or simply because they have no choice is difficult to determine.

Compared to CHI, the Net Promoter Score appears more simplistic, but in fact, that is one of the reasons for its success. It consists of one question: ‘how likely is it that you (the customer) would recommend our product/service?’. The score is measured from -100, where every customer is a ‘detractor’, to +100 where every customer is a ‘promoter’. Above zero is positive and above 50 is excellent.

Just like CHI, the NPS can be used for any sort of business, and again, just like the CHI, an industry with high barriers to entry and barriers to switching may not have much use for the metric, since detractors have no competition to switch to.

Those companies that use the CHI over NPS scores reason that it covers more ground, with more questions and gets a more nuanced answer. The book Customer Satisfaction: The customer experience through the customer’s eyes by Nigel Hill and Greg Roche criticised the NPS by claiming that ‘[a] single item question is much less reliable and more volatile than a composite index’ and that ‘simultaneously investigating multiple dimensions of the customer relationship’ leads to more accurate results.

In particular, it boasts two strengths:

1) It is proven to accurately predict and prevent customer turnover. By identifying customers thinking about leaving, your business can take proactive steps to retain them rather than waiting for them to come to you with their complaints (most likely leaving before you can do anything about them). HubSpot now manage to keep a third of customers who were identified as potential leavers just through their use of the CHI.

2) CHI can be used to measure many aspect of a business, not just customer happiness. CHI can be used to differentiate between the success of two products with a metric other than sales figures; it can be used to determine which marketing approach works best for your business; it can be used to determine whether your customer service department adequately and accurately deals with customer complaints.

We find that our VIRTUATel clients, many of whom use real-time NPS currently, realise the value of cross referencing NPS with other questions to get truly in-depth intelligence. And in fact, VIRTUATel’s real-time automated surveys are already extensively used to uncover those potential customer losses for proactive attention – the crucial thing is to make sure whatever you’re measuring, you’re measuring it in real-time, so that you can make changes quickly.

Will CHI takeover NPS in customer satisfaction terms? Perhaps not, due to the very significant investment already made at board level. However, in the next couple of years, we might see an increase in its use, and perhaps see it integrated increasingly into existing customer satisfaction strategies.

To speak to someone about the best metric for measuring your business, email us here.

How did the 2015 UK election polls get it so wrong

How 2015 UK election polls prove real-time is the best type of survey

The 2015 UK election dust has settled, 61.3 million votes have been counted and the UK has a new government but many so-called specialist pollsters and survey experts are still confused and mystified as to why the pre-election polls differed so much from reality.  As the BBC said, a mixture of anger and contempt has been hailed down on those responsible for such poor predictions.  And they were poor predictions;  According to David Cowling, Editor of BBC Political Research Unit, NONE of the 92 polls they monitored predicted the 7% lead the Conservatives would achieve.  52% actually predicted a Labour lead!

A new way to conduct automated surveys

How did the 2015 polls get it so wrong?

What was it about the 2015 pre-election polls that were so inaccurate and why?

Most of those research organisations that have lost face have already started the “clean-up” campaign and set up various independent enquiries and investigations in order to come up with answers.  Maybe they will or maybe they will just be used to delay and merely kick the can down the street.

Whatever transpires, we at VIRTUATel think we know exactly why there was such a discrepancy as we deal with millions of multi-channel, multi-type surveys each month and we know the strong points and the weaknesses of each survey channel and how it is best used.   We already know the dramatic differences in survey results that can occur, depending upon the question wording, the survey type, the survey channel used but most importantly, the timing of the survey and who you are surveying.  If you get any of these wrong there can be a lot of egg on faces as well us unrepresentative score upon which decisions could be made!

What experience has VIRTUATel, that can explain why the 2015 UK polls and surveys were so wrong and inaccurate?  What makes our automated survey insight relevant to an election?

Actually, it’s not that we are clever, it’s just the fact that we conduct millions of client surveys each month across the telephone, web, email, smartphone and SMS channels and already know the major differences that can occur, depending upon the survey channel used and how close to the “event” you conduct the survey – and that’s not taking into account survey wording.

So, what do we know and what are the parallels between our survey experience and the election polls that could have helped the pollsters?

Firstly, we know that real-time surveys conducted as close to the “event” as possible, gives the most unbiassed results compared to other poll and survey methods!   Whether it is an SMS, phone or online survey, it must be conducted immediately after the event upon which you want feedback.

We even measure the gap between the survey invitation and the survey result because we know that delayed or “sat-on” online, SMS or phone surveys and polls result in biased and inaccurate results.  If fact our experience is that the automated telephone surveys conducted the minute after the “event” gives the most accurate feedback.

So which survey conducted before the election was the most accurate?  It was the late telephone poll conducted very close to the election, that was only 1% wrong compared to the actual results.  And which was the most accurate survey of all?  That was the almost 100% correct exit-poll conducted immediately after the voter had voted (the “event”)!

Secondly, we know that survey wording and the presentation of the question is hugely important and can have a significant effect of the bias of survey results.

As we conduct most of our surveys in real-time and immediately after the “event”, we are almost always asking about actions that have already taken place – just like an exit poll.  Our survey questions tend to ask “did you….?” and not “are you going to…..?” and the difference is significant, as the pre-election polls discovered.  If the question is about an event that has not yet occurred, intrinsic bias is created by many factors that result in an unstable or unreliable result, including;

  • lack of knowledge
  • uncertainty and indecision
  • late additional information
  • embarrassment resulting in an untrue answer

We know real-time, immediately after the “event” give the best results, as did the exit poll.

The final parallel turns out to be nothing more than the data!  VIRTUATel know that the huge importance of understanding the data that is used to choose who to survey and we have sophisticated “rules engine” and selection methodology to ensure that we are always comparing “like for like’.  The 2015 pollsters forgot this very significant fact!

In the 2015 election there was 13% less voters for the 3 main parties, compared to the previous election.  Also, the number of people polled by the big 10 pollsters varied from just over 1000  to over 10,000.  That seems to suggest that there was  a huge variation in the representation of the audience and VIRTUATel know that a poll can consist of 20,000 respondents but, if they are not representative of the general population, they are no more use than a sample of 200.

We are not considering suggesting that VIRTUATel run the next election polls but for the best advice and experience of automated customer satisfaction surveys, it’s nice to know we know what we are talking about.

For more information on VIRTUATel‘s services CLICK HERE to Contact VIRTUATel.