TechBytes with Steve Norall, Chief Product Officer, SurveyMonkey

Steve Norall - Image

Steve Norall
Chief Product Officer, SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey recently unveiled its new People Powered Data platform that enables businesses to turn voices and opinions into actionable data. We spoke to Steve Norall, Chief Product Officer, SurveyMonkey, about how their new platform enables B2B marketers to engage with their customers.

MTS: Tell us about your role at SurveyMonkey and how you got here?

Steve Norall: I’m the Chief Product Officer at SurveyMonkey, overseeing product, growth marketing, and product marketing. I joined SurveyMonkey two years ago through the acquisition of TechValidate, a content automation software company that I co-founded in 2007. As an entrepreneur myself, I was drawn to SurveyMonkey because of the company’s ability to power people’s creativity, curiosity, and innovation.

Last year has been especially exciting as we’ve completely reinvented the SurveyMonkey brand to move beyond surveys into the People Powered Data space. We used this brand journey as a mandate to transform the whole company as we formulated a new mission to “Power the Curious.” We revisited products, processes, and procedures. Resulting from this work is an all-new look of our brand and products, and a portfolio of targeted solutions for businesses to gather customer-powered, employee-powered and market-powered data that we’ve recently unveiled: SurveyMonkey CX, SurveyMonkey Engage, and SurveyMonkey Audience.

MTS: How deep is SurveyMonkey into Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML)? How do you maximize the data’s potential to design surveys?

Steve Norall: Our new People Powered Data Platform enables businesses to turn voices and opinions into actionable data. With this platform, we are uniquely positioned to deliver the expertise, speed, and scale that businesses need to win in the competitive market place.

We do that by combining SurveyMonkey’s nearly 20 years of survey science expertise and billions of survey responses in our database with new technologies like machine learning, to help organizations quickly understand why things are happening. This is the unique advantage we can deliver in comparison with various big data solutions that uncover what is happening, but can’t always help make an informed decision as they aren’t good at discovering the why.

An example of a new feature powered by our expertise and a proprietary machine-learning algorithm is SurveyMonkey Genius. It essentially acts as a survey scientist that’s always available to you, analyzes your survey and predicts the performance by anticipating response rate and completion time before the survey is deployed to respondents. It also offers a list of actionable suggestions, so users can gather higher-quality data, and tips to avoid common mistakes. The best thing is: SurveyMonkey Genius keep learning and getting better the more it’s used. Following the launch, we’ve seen a 2.4x increase in survey deployments following with use of this feature, and customers are really excited about it, saying it adds real value to the products.

Another example is auto-tagging in SurveyMonkey CX where the machine learning software is able to read through open-ended responses and assign it a “category,” so that you can spot trends easily.

We’ll be embedding more and more of our expertise into future products and leveraging our unique data assets, so that all customers can benefit from that and get actionable People Powered Data quickly. We also plan to build up our Data Science capability and infrastructure, so that any engineer can envision, train, test, and operationalize data science models in our environment, and expand experiments with new tech.

MTS: What are the building blocks of SurveyMonkey’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology? Can NPS models be customized for B2B customers based on their business models?

Steve Norall: The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the world’s leading metric for measuring customer loyalty and happiness. It is a great metric to power customer insights because it’s benchmarkable, and in addition to that research shows that it is highly predictive of future growth.

For that reason, SurveyMonkey CX is based on the Net Promoter System. We took NPS to the next level by leveraging the prowess of our survey researchers and expertise in collecting customer satisfaction data. As a result, our methodology maximizes response rates and quality insights, helping businesses provide great customer experiences.

With SurveyMonkey CX, businesses get our industry-leading NPS Benchmarks built in and get instant information on how they compare to similar companies. Marketers, customer experience, and customer success professionals can trigger personalized surveys through multiple channels to reach customers when and where they are most receptive. They can also accurately measure customer loyalty and understand the drivers behind their business’ NPS to know exactly what actions will move the needle.

However, there’s more to NPS than just scoring overall customer satisfaction. Once businesses identify their Promoters, Passives, and Detractors through their NPS survey, SurveyMonkey CX enables them to close the loop with personalized follow-up communications to their customers. Whoever is managing the program can assign a team member to follow up with customers, message them directly and monitor conversations in CX, as well as sync NPS data into Salesforce.

Basically, powering your NPS program with CX gives you:

  1. Proven methodology, so the team doesn’t need special expertise to get great results, as well as customization for your business–for example, you can customize your key drivers + add follow-up questions;
  2. Automation: you can trigger surveys and eliminate manual work;
  3. Advanced and predictive analytics: understand trends, benchmarks, and benefit from predictive analysis of key drivers, revenue impact and more;
  4. Ability to close the loop: you get alerts, assign follow-up action within your team, and have direct conversations at scale with your customers.

MTS: In the era of social selling, how is SurveyMonkey firming up to deliver best-in-class customized branding and audience listening capabilities to marketers?

Steve Norall: Our new People Powered Data platform was created exactly for this purpose: to help businesses listen to the people who matter most—customers and employees—and meet their needs. First of all, we allow you to ask questions ( in fact have conversations at scale) in the most popular messaging and collaboration apps like Facebook Messenger and Slack with our new integrations. We’ll continue to expand the list to other popular social and collaboration platforms. This helps businesses reach customers where they are having conversations already and get instant feedback.

We also created a new survey-taking experience with a new mobile-first design, so that all surveys on our platform feel more like a conversation. In the US 35% of SurveyMonkey surveys are on mobile phones, and the percentage is much higher outside the US–almost 81%. So, it was extremely important for us to offer a mobile-friendly survey-taking experience and integrate with chats, social, etc. Our initial tests showed the value of putting respondents first with 12-20% higher survey completion rates with this new experience and 8% faster survey completion rates.

Finally, we are building targeted solutions for listening to customers like SurveyMonkey CX, and expanding the capabilities of our solution for market-powered data called SurveyMonkey Audience which businesses use to get real-time feedback from millions of people around the world. SurveyMonkey Audience has been redesigned and is now built directly into SurveyMonkey, making it easier than ever to do market research and get access to People Powered Data anytime, anywhere, and with any budget size. This self-serve market research tool is also now accessible to customers in more than 60 markets, supports over 30 local currencies, and is fueled by global panels in over 100 countries. It’s democratizing market research with 24/7 access, so businesses can run studies in minutes and get answers in hours or days instead of weeks or months.

GoPro, for example, uses SurveyMonkey Audience for a global brand awareness study to gather insights across 12+ countries and captures opinions from India or China or Japan as these markets are becoming big for GoPro.

Speed is really important for businesses when it comes to listening to their customers and the market these days. We see it play out in social media, where an understanding of the why (or a reaction to) behind certain developments or conversations is often needed within a few days, rather than months. This is what our solutions can offer at a fraction of the cost of traditional market research price.

MTS: How are features for customer experience different from the ones used for employee engagement? What makes SurveyMonkey CX different from the rest of the competition?

Steve Norall: Nearly 30% of our customers use SurveyMonkey to measure employee engagement, which is why we’ve developed SurveyMonkey Engage that’s launching later this year. This solution is based on our expertise to help HR improve business outcomes by building a fulfilling employee experience that creates happy, healthy, effective employees. Engage deploys a turnkey, data-driven methodology based on 5-key factors that measure engagement throughout the year, sets up recurring surveys to follow up on engagement regularly, etc. Similarly to SurveyMonkey CX which provides customer-powered data, this solution for employee-powered data offers compelling visualizations to help businesses quickly pinpoint areas of improvement and drill down further to get to the why: by team, function, location and more.

While the features of these two solutions are different because they are addressing different problems, both products help organizations understand experiences and take action on them: SurveyMonkey Engage for employees and SurveyMonkey CX for customers. Understanding these experiences is critical for today’s businesses and often what sets a business apart from its competitors.

These products both stand out from the competition because we leverage our expertise, speed and scale to help businesses not just get more value out of their data, but also take immediate action and close the loop with customers and employees. While a lot of enterprise solutions cost tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars, our powerful tools are also available at a reasonable price, both meeting your CTO’s security needs and your CFO’s budget.

What’s also interesting is that CX and Engage complement each other really well as one of the biggest drivers of high customer satisfaction is highly engaged employees.

MTS: What is your opinion on the automation of survey workflow? Do you think bots and intelligent assistants will completely replace customer feedback processes in the future? 

Steve Norall: Automation can certainly help drive conversations with customers at scale. We want our products to help marketers categorize, process, and understand the data more efficiently, and we’ve been implementing the latest technologies to do that, for example in our integration with Slack.

However, nothing can replace customer feedback.

No bot can predict or learn the varying and complex voices and opinions of people, and we want to help customers capture genuine feedback and make informed decisions to gain a competitive advantage.

We’ll likely use intelligent assistants more and more to eliminate simple, but time-consuming tasks to help businesses quickly turn information into action, but only where it really makes sense.

MTS: Thanks for chatting with us, Steve.
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