February 9, 2010|Checkbox Blog, News, Survey Trends & Best Practices|

If you’ve found yourself with the daunting task of researching survey software, we feel your pain and we’re here to help. Checkbox Survey Solutions has developed a simple, logical and objective 3-step guide that will help you and your organization make the right survey software choice.

Step 1: Compile a Comprehensive List
Create a list made up of all potential candidates. Take to the streets (literally and figuratively) and scour search engines, ask friends and colleagues, and use online business directories that list survey software providers. When using search engines, be sure to specify the most relevant keyword phrases that appeal to you and your organization; this will help narrow down your search. For instance, you might use long-tail keyword phrases like ‘Microsoft-based survey software’ in order to find a survey tool based on a Microsoft platform or ‘customer satisfaction survey software’ to find one specific to customer feedback. Include every option you come across, even if you know you will quickly eliminate many of them. Including obvious  ‘no-good’s’ will often help you hone in on the attributes that are must-haves, as well as the ones that aren’t as critical. 

Step 2: Compare Basic Attributes – It’s Spreadsheet Time
Now it’s time to create a spreadsheet that will become your ratings guide for product comparison. Use your spreadsheet rows to lay out the product attributes and features that are important to you. For example: Price Range, Support Options, Delivery Options, Architecture, Security, Question Types and Advanced Features (i.e. Ratings Scales, Matrix Questions, Skip Logic, Piping, Etc.), Branding Options, Invitations Options, Number of Users, User Management Options, Multilanguage, Reports, and Integration. To make scanning your grid easier, group together and highlight the attributes that are most critical to your project and your decision.

Survey software company websites should provide most of the information necessary to populate your grid, but you may need to make a few phone calls or send a few emails to sales departments to fill in the blanks. While not always the case, keep in mind that a transparent and well organized website with a wide variety of information and resources related to the product often speaks volumes in terms of a company’s commitment to customer service and support.

You may also want to fill in your grid with information you gain first-hand through a software trial or free account. Most survey software products offer a limited time free trial or free basic account to let you kick the tires and experience what the product looks like, feels like, and delivers. If available, a free trial is also a good time to evaluate the company’s support options, documentation, and training options. If customer support isn’t available with your free account, give the sales department a call with a sample support question – their willingness to help a potential client with a free account is often a good indication of the service you will receive in the future.

Step 3: Narrow it Down & Analyze Top Candidates in Depth
After compiling your spreadsheet, testing some of the software, speaking with the companies, and checking out what kind of resources they have available, you probably have a pretty good idea of your top three to five contenders. Before you make your final decision, it’s time to dig a little deeper.

Compare your most critical attributes side by side among the survey tools on your short list and make sure you fully understand the differences between each one. For instance, when evaluating software based on cost, take a hard look at how your needs line up with their offerings and be aware of any incremental costs you may incur. Many ‘value-positioned’ software tools are a great deal for occasional users or survey projects with low response needs, but the incremental costs of adding additional surveys, responses, or users can often surpass the cost of purchasing a higher priced tool with higher or no limits.

Your final choice should do the best job balancing price, having the most features on your critical list, being scalable if your needs change, and having adequate resources to get you going including self-service training resources and a friendly, helpful sales and support staff. Online surveys are critical to so many areas of a successful business including customer retention, employee satisfaction, and more; spending enough time doing your due diligence to make sure you have exactly the right survey product for your needs will come back to you many-fold in the value a good survey tool will bring you.

About Checkbox Survey Solutions
Checkbox Survey Solutions, Inc., strives to offer the best choice in professional survey and data collection tools by combining flexible pricing, choice of platform, a superior customer experience, and best in class features and interface. With a longstanding track record of helping businesses and organizations, large and small, implement high quality survey and data collection solutions, Checkbox Survey has developed relationships with top global companies in more than 30 countries with a continual emphasis on quality, performance, and usability.

To find out more about Checkbox Survey, visit www.checkbox.com or contact a product expert at 1-866-430-8274 (Int’l 1-617-715-9605).