Keeping our ears to the ground…

This is a fairly lengthy blog entry. For those of us with ADHD, here is the synopsis:

  • We are conducting one-on-one in-depth interviews/discussions with a few of our customers.
  • The three key issues (so far) that have come up are:
    • Training/Knowledgesharing
    • Tighter integration with MS Office Products
    • Point-And-Click interface for Complex Logic

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been inviting a few of our customers to have a chat with us one-on-one about the day-to-day issues they face using QuestionPro. I guess we could have done a survey, but we wanted to actually spend some time with some of our power users and customers on the phone and get some in-depth feedback on usage, expectations, frustrations and delight.

Due to the volume of our customer base, we’ll be doing this in batches and of course listening and drawing conclusions about what we can do better in 2008. We also want to make this process fairly transparent, so I’ll be blogging about the issues that are raised and subsequently what we are doing to address them.

These discussions are fairly open-ended and we get on a conference call and listen. Our first batch of invitations went out about a month ago (early/mid December) — We invited a random sample of about 16 enterprise accounts and got a response from 5 of them. About a 25% response rate. We were asking our clients to spare about an hour on the phone with us to talk about their experience, expectations and suggestions for us.

Now, lets talk about some common threads/issues that we’ve seen:

  1. Training/Usage/Knowledge
    • The QuestionPro tool can be intimidating at times. While almost all of the customers agree that we’ve got some “diesel grade” tools, many of tools are complex in nature and require some time, thought and attention to comprehend them. Tools like TURF analysis, Conjoint Analysis, GAP Analysis etc. are available but require a fair amount of patient training and knowledge to effectively use them. Not only should users know how to use them, they also need some help in when to use these tools. This point was driven home to us (both Kevin and I sit on these calls) by Sharianne Greer from ING Advisor Network — and she is the head of eLearning @ ING Advisors!
  2. Tighter Integration with MS Office Products
    • MS Office (Word/PPT/Excel) are still the business worlds leading document formats for sharing information. We know and have some integration with Word/Excel/PPT but, another theme that was almost universal was tighter integration with MS Office products. For example, Jeff Wilkins team from McKesson bought up important points about integrating open-ended text comments with the PowerPoint export.
  3. Point-And-Click interface for Complex Logic
    • Our regular branching, extraction and randomizer tools are generally OK for most use cases. But in some cases, this model does not accomodate some complex logic requirements like:
      • Logic based on multiple criteria including custom variables.
      • Show/Hide Questions, Options, Rows in a matrix based on complex criteria including custom variables.
      • Delayed branching and logic.
    • In cases like these, we usually point users to our Custom Logic and Scripting engine. While the Custom Logic/Scripting Engine can do the job it’s not the most efficient model. Given that we are in the survey business, we should not require customers to know how to script if/then/else logic. Most of our customers are not programmers!

We’ve taken these discussions to heart and have come up with a series of solutions and enhancements that specifically deal with the broad issues above. Here are some of the ideas that are currently on the table:

  1. Monthly informal webinar focused on specific areas — For example complex analysis, logic, net-promoter-score. These webinars will be a mix of technology, QuestionPro and business problem domain (like Net-Promoter-Score, Customer Satisfaction Research, brand equity measurement etc.)
  2. Enhancing our Analytics everywhere to have export to Word/Excel/PPT on all the reports that we generate.
  3. A comprehensive solution for the Point-Click-Logic development without using custom scripting. If you now click on the Logic Icon, you’ll see many more enhancements and tools for point-and-click logic.

We will be talking to another set of customers come late February. So, If you receive an email from us asking you to participate in a conference call with us, I would implore you to join this process and help us. What is in it for you? — Well many of the enhancements and changes we make are usually plugged into existing licenses — this can only make your life easier! We realize that you need to take about an hour off your schedule — but as many of the customers who’ve participated in this process will say, it could potentially save you a lot of money and/or time.

The QuestionPro IdeaFactory

Finally, we are also launching a new portal for idea exchange. This portal will allow you to login and post ideas and suggestions on what we can/should do with QuestionPro. If you have an idea or a suggestion for us, you can post it online and all the others can view/vote on it. We will then take the top-rated/voted ideas and see if we can implement them.

What is neat about this IdeaFactory concept is that, we’ve enabled it so that you can create your own custom IdeaFactories. As we were thinking about our problems (what features/tools to build) we realized that many companies, our clients, have the same problem. We think that IdeaFactory is the next iteration of feedback — Collaborative feedback.

We are currently pilot testing the IdeaFactory concept with a few select clients. We’ll post more information as we get closer to beta launch.

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