Finding out what customers or potential customers might want is at the heart of any business that tailors its products. Eliminating surprises from new product launches is always preferable to an unexpected commercial reality check.

One of the best ways to manage these relationships is with a survey tool that can target those who are the intended recipients of a product or service.

Using the generated feedback, changes can be made before any issues have an irreparable impact on customers, and equally enhance a positive situation to even greater success.

Those wanting to survey customers, people in general or even their own employees should find something to their liking in our selection of survey platforms.

SurveyMonkey

One of the most successful survey solutions around with over 40 million registered customers, SurveyMonkey offers a comprehensive questionnaire building solution and metric analysis tools.

It allows those without any coding skills to create complex question sets and then process the responses easily and efficiently.

You can sign up for free and create a survey within minutes. However, you can’t access the data collected in CSV or Excel XLS until you’ve signed up for a paid option. And the price goes up more if you expect more than 1000 responses per month or want to use any of the sophisticated branching and pipeline features.

Standard service is £35 ($46) per month, Advantage £34 ($44) and Premier £99 ($131). Enterprise solutions are also available for those that need to be fed with fresh marketing data on a daily basis.

Typeform

Where other survey tools focus on how complicated a questionnaire can be, or how much data you can extract, Typeform takes a wholly different approach.

Its focus is user interaction, believing that the way to get the best responses is to engage the end user and through that get better responses. The Typeform methodology appears to work well, getting on average four times the completion rate over what the industry considers standard.

The other strong point is the pricing low pricing that starts with a Basic (free) solution for those that only need 100 responses and ten fields. Both those limitations are missing from the PRO version at £24 ($32) per month, and you also get 2GB of online space to store responses.

Each of these is restricted to a single user, though Enterprise deals are available.

JotForm

JotForm is an online web and email survey building solution that aims to undercut Typeform while being even easier to use.

A coding-free solution that most marketing people should be able to master quickly and generate the leads or feedback that they need.

In the past 12 years, JotForm has built a customer base of 2 million regular customers, creating forms in 177 countries and 12 languages.

The sliding cost scale starts at Free for five forms and 1,000 monthly form views up to $99 (£74.85) per month for the Gold service with 100,000 monthly submissions, unlimited forms and unlimited submission storage.

Below Gold is Bronze and Silver tiers, and Silver is the best choice for most small companies. It can handle 10,000 monthly responses, 100 payments on up to 100 forms, all for $39 (£29.49) per month. 

AskNicely

AskNicely’s unique selling point is that it can collect live information based on the Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS is an excellent way to gauge the strength of customer relationships for a business, and this tool was designed to track that dynamic.

It also integrates with many customer workflow options that include Salesforce, Hubspot, Slack, Zendesk, MailChimp and Zapier amongst many others.

With these connections, surveys can target specific customer groups, and their reaction to new products and services can be collected to present real-time to live dashboards.

Costs start at $299 (£226) per month for ten user licences and 5,000 surveys, although that doesn’t include the Salesforce NPS Module. Enterprise customers are encouraged to ask for a quote.

Formstack

Formstack is a good example of a survey product with a very wide remit. The online form tool allows the creation of sophisticated surveys and their responses to be data harvested. But it can also be used for straightforward customer feedback panels on websites and social media.

Many companies use it to process leads and analyse their rate of conversion by integrating it into other sales management solutions. It works with MailChimp to enable targeted information gathering and feedback from existing customer databases.

As a survey tool, it works well enough, though it doesn’t have the templates that some competitor products offer.

Costing has four levels; Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Starting at $19 (£14) per month for Bronze where you get a single user solution with basic forms and no application integration. At the other end of this scale, $249 (£188) buys you Platinum that is a ten user license with the scope for 1,000 forms and 100,000 submissions per month. 

Surveygizmo

Not everyone owns and uses a PC to respond to a survey, and Surveygizmo is one of the few products that truly embrace all manner of platforms and access points.

Surveys can be sent as emails, placed on Facebook and Twitter, are accessible through a QR code; or even downloaded to physically print and then return.

The design tool reflects that flexibility with the ability to create surveys that look different on the phone than a PC, and it can track responses so that contacts can be encouraged to complete surveys they never finished.

Customers like the product and the support service provided, although recent price hikes and new tier limitations have irked some.

Prices start at just $25 (£19) per month, but to enable the power features like email campaigns and sophisticated analysis requires the $84 (£63) per month license.

Those wanting all the bells and whistles plus a multi-user license need to ask for a quote.

Google Forms

Many business people don’t need anything exotic or complicated. Maybe a simple form to ask their customers if they enjoyed the last seminar and how to make it better is sufficient.

For them, the free to use Google Forms is a perfectly adequate tool that requires little skill or experience to use.

Responses are stored automatically into Google Sheets, allowing them to be easily transferred to an Excel spreadsheet or a database later.

The key weakness of Google Forms is that unless recipients have a Google Account and are willing to log in with it, they can fill out a survey multiple times.

As it is free before you spend big, it might be worth seeing if it will do enough, or at least hint what bought product features you might want.

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