Why Surveys are Ideal for Supporting Data Driven Decision Making

Philip Cleave
October 31, 2019

Survey data and the impactful insights it can provide to help inform your decision making, offers one of the most powerful tools for your business. It’s an asset lauded by Forrester, who claim in a recent report that companies that effectively deploy and share data insights across their organization are more competitive and can grow more than 30% annually.

When you consider all the departments that are in a business and the goals they need to achieve, it’s not hard to appreciate how valuable the insights derived from data can be in helping them to reach their target. For example, marketing teams need to keep tabs on opinions about their brand, products and services, while HR teams are always looking to better understand candidate and employee needs, so they can improve recruitment, engagement and retention. Similarly, customer experience personnel will want to improve the customer journey, from first contact and onboarding to all the later stages in their customers’ lifecycle. And while each department will be looking to achieve different things, the one thing they will all need to perform effectively is quality data.

From marketing to product development, customer success to HR, the most successful companies are supporting their teams with impactful data insights, to strengthen their understanding of customers and employees, and enhance the quality of decision-making right across their business.

How survey data supports data driven decision making

Traditionally, most organisations relied on data such as sales figures, customer profiles and churn rates to inform their decision making. However, while this is great for communicating what is happening in your business, it doesn’t always tell you why it’s happening.

In contrast, survey data adds more colour, context and sentiment to what you are trying to evaluate. It can answer the question of why someone takes an action, how they feel and what they want from a product, service or company. This contextual data delivers more in-depth insights, which can help drive better decision-making – offering a significant advantage to those organisations armed with this information in today’s more competitive and crowded markets.

The importance of more accessible, relevant and better aligned data flows

Whether it’s a market research or customer satisfaction, or an employee or recruitment survey; whatever online survey you’ve run and however strong your results, you will not be able to obtain the greatest value from them, if you can’t forward the data to where it’s needed in your organisation quickly enough.

Typically, when it comes to the survey and data collection process, responsibility in a business usually lies with just a few nominated people, which can result in data silos.

Consequently, it will generally fall on an IT manager in a business to develop systems and processes that will encourage and enable this data to be more easily accessed, shared and swiftly circulated to those departments and people who need it the most. In addition, they will also need to ensure they have the right security and safety processes in place to maximise data privacy and protection and ensure their compliance with any laws and regulations their business needs to adhere to.

4 ways to ensure survey data better supports data driven decision making

With the right systems and processes in place, not only will your data flows be more seamless, you’ll be able to get valuable insights to where they are needed much faster and derive greater value from your data.

Here are some effective ways to build a stronger environment for making data-driven decisions from your survey findings.

1) Integrate your survey feedback into your existing systems

Survey data is more valuable when it is connected with other data, particularly when it is populated within other mission-critical systems you use on daily basis, providing additional insight that can be invaluable when you are dealing with a customer or new prospect.

Whatever you’re using from Salesforce to Marketo, Tableau to Power BI, integrating your survey feedback with these systems can provide significant benefits for your customer service and sales teams. Whether it’s survey data that provides a broader context to an issue you’re trying to solve, or extra information that proves pivotal in supporting a sale, this level of integration can make a real difference to the performance of your teams.

These integration benefits are something we’ve seen with our own customers and is an area that we’re experienced in. A good example is the fully featured, RESTful API and webhooks function that we offer that allows SmartSurvey to be integrated with any web-connected database or service. For information about third party tools that can be integrated with SmartSurvey, including details about how to set them up, why not take a look at our Integrations page.

2) Collect feedback throughout your customer or employees’ journey

Rather than a one survey fits all approach to research, ongoing surveys should be a continual part of your customer and employee evaluation process during their lifecycle journey with you. Doing this will enable all your departments and teams to better support their audiences as they’re more able to closely align with their changing needs:

  • Marketers can use survey feedback to build buyer personas, enrich leads and segment prospects to deliver more personalised and meaningful experiences.
  • Sales teams can get insights into purchase decisions with win/loss analysis, to better understand and address customer needs at all stages of the purchase process.
  • Customer experience teams take a more tailored approach to problem resolution and uncover upsell and cross sell opportunities for the individual customer.
  • Human resource teams can also adopt a more bespoke path to surveys, to help with their talent recruitment, employee onboarding, engagement and retention activities.

3) Share survey data across all your departments and teams

All too often, data gets stuck in siloed systems and is unable to make the impact it should. Survey data is of greatest value when it is accessible and shared not only to team members, but among groups in the wider organisation.

With collaboration capabilities it can be much simpler for large teams to work on multiple survey projects and easily share their results with stakeholders both inside and outside their group. Workgroups can also allow teams to collaborate over survey creation, editing and analysis and subsequently share the full benefits of the insights they uncover.

4) Control data while supporting free and secure sharing

Collected data often includes sensitive information such as customer, health or employee data. While this data is of greatest value when it’s shared, it needs to be managed so that it’s secure, compliant and can work for anyone within the organisation.

Centralised administration capabilities are ideal, as they not only provide a single view of all the data being collected within an organisation, they offer control and visibility over who can access and use specific data sets.

SmartSurvey account holders have access to similar benefits. This includes capabilities that allow account holders to manage who can access a survey, through the use of password protection and username/password security controls. They can also set passwords to access survey results. More information about this including set up details can be found in our article on setting up survey permissions for users.

Creating better conditions for data driven decision making

Better understanding how people feel and act is the ultimate goal for all businesses, as the decisions it will enable you to take, will help you to serve your customers better and become more successful. By carrying our frequent surveys of your audiences, you’ll be in a much better position to gather these valuable data insights.

However, as we have already discussed you’ll only be able to derive the greatest value from these insights if you improve the conditions for accessing, sharing and evaluating them throughout your business, which will rely on having the right supporting systems and processes in place.

By adopting the approaches, we have outlined in this blog, you can be better aligned with your audiences changing needs. This should help improve the performance of your teams, enhance your competitiveness and ultimately help you to become move successful moving forward.


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