We’ve all experienced them while browsing online – those annoying surveys that pop up on your screen at the most inopportune time. The web page you’re visiting has barely loaded and a survey appears asking for your opinion about your experience. Ironic, isn’t it? The fact that you’ve just arrived at a company’s website – perhaps even for the first time – is apparently of no consequence. You are forced to stop what you’re doing to respond to or dismiss the message.

But let’s say you’re one of the few who actually completes the survey. What happens to the data you provide? Is it of any value to you? The answer is almost always “no!” Once submitted, the data seems to go into a black hole of sorts. Maybe people at the company do something with it, but who knows.

There are companies whose entire business is dedicated to providing the software behind these types of surveys. The problem with their approach, though, is that the surveys and the “Voice of the Customer” (VoC) programs they support are almost always divorced from actual customer experience personalization initiatives. And they shouldn’t be.

The Value of Survey Data

No one denies that there’s enormous value in collecting VoC survey data. While today’s advanced analytics solutions allow companies to interpret customer behaviors, there are many aspects that cannot be understood by monitoring digital activity alone.

When you want to know what someone is truly interested in, what their specific needs are or what their opinion about a particular topic is, often the best approach is to just ask them. In this sense, surveys are one of the most powerful means of collecting relevant customer data.

Collecting Data is the Easy Part

The challenge is that there’s generally a disconnect between the process of collecting information and then using the data to deliver value to the customer. Collecting information is easy, and there are scores of online tools available where anyone can create a survey, deploy it and analyze the results.

The hard part is applying the insights gained from a survey and using that information to improve relationships with customers. Typically, this occurs through offline channels where teams of people study and draw conclusions from survey results, determine how to use that information (if at all), and then work to implement changes to existing programs.

In the best case scenarios, a customer may see some improvement or receive a related email communication a few months after completing a survey. Most likely, however, any change or communication would occur so far out in the future that an individual would have no idea that his or her opinion had influenced it.

Here’s the key point: while surveys are powerful tools for collecting data, they are heavily one-sided and provide little noticeable benefit to those who take the time to complete them. And because of that, fewer and fewer people take the time complete surveys.

A New Approach to Online Surveys

Today, we are pleased to announce a significant enhancement to our surveying capabilities with a new module called Evergage SmartSurveys™. Evergage customers can now build advanced surveys to collect explicit data from prospects and customers and utilize responses to improve their experiences – all in real time.

Within the Evergage platform, surveys can be created and deployed across channels – website, in-app, email – within minutes. Product managers, marketers and customer success professionals can design simple inline one-question surveys or more advanced surveys that use multiple questions, different question types and branching logic.

SmartSurveys can also leverage Evergage’s sophisticated segmentation capabilities to granularly target surveys to specific audiences. For example, you may choose to only show surveys to people once they’ve engaged with your site after a specific amount a time – a seemingly novel concept given how many of today’s survey tools operate.

But the true power of Evergage SmartSurveys lies in leveraging the data to improve customer relationships and experiences. As individuals complete survey questions, their answers are automatically stored in Evergage’s Customer Data Platform (CDP). Then, using Evergage’s real-time personalization capabilities, business professionals can design experiences – and trigger them based on how an individual responds to a survey.

Cross-Industry Applications

There is really no limit to how SmartSurveys can be used. Based on a shopper’s behavior, a retailer could ask if she is shopping for herself or someone else, has a specific budget in mind or would like to engage with a sales representative. Companies focused on demand generation can use SmartSurveys to ask strategic and tactful questions designed to collect information from prospects about their needs and stage of the buying journey and then present supporting content and suggestions. A financial services firm might detect – based on a visitor’s research and other behavior across the company’s channels – that the person is interested in automobile loans. That could trigger a survey asking about the customer’s time horizon for a loan, and then, if the answer is near term, the website experience could change in real time to highlight the latest loan rates.

Survey response data collected using Evergage SmartSurveys can also be used to immediately trigger a relevant email to a customer (or an internal stakeholder) or even send data to another system, like a CRM application or call center system.

What Are You Waiting For?

Surveys are a great way to collect insights from customers, but using them effectively requires there to be mutual benefit. If you’re going to ask a customer or prospect to stop what they’re doing and answer a few questions, you need to be prepared to provide something in return. And the more that happens, the more often people will continue completing your surveys.

Evergage SmartSurveys changes the game. It represents the ideal combination collecting valuable customer data at the appropriate time and using it in the moment to deliver relevant, helpful customer experiences, benefiting both the customer and the business.