Painless Customer Surveys
Review by Dirk Dusharme
Those who have ever shied away from customer surveys because of the time it takes to develop a form, deliver it and process the returns owe themselves a look at Survey+ by AutoData Systems. Survey+ makes it incredibly easy to develop and process surveys.
Users merely type text into the text entry block, tell Survey+ whether the text is a title, comment or question, and the program puts the preformatted text into the layout. Specify the type of question: yes/no, true/false, male/female or one of several five-step scales, and Survey+ places the question into the layout along with the response fill-in bubbles, headings and scale definitions. Users also may create their own scales with up to 10 response levels or categories. For later data processing, scales may be identified as single mark, single mark scaled (answers are on a continuum, helpful for calculating statistical values) or multiple marks.
Users also may specify hand-printed numerical data such as telephone number, social security number or date. During form processing, optical character recognition will translate hand-printed responses into ASCII text.
As a form generator, Survey+ works well. But forms processing is where the software really shines. Returned forms may be input from a scanner, directly from a fax modem or manually. With automated modes, the software accurately reads which response bubbles are checked, regardless of whether they are completely filled in or simply Xed.
The program does a reasonable job of character recognition on hand-printed entries and may be configured to stop on each hand-printed entry. Data from scanned forms is stored as comma-delimited text and easily imported into any spreadsheet or database program. Survey+ also includes its own post-processing analysis with histograms, trend analysis and cross-tabulations.
The only problem we detected was with the optical character recognition, but we haven't seen an OCR system yet that was entirely accurate. In any case, even with operator verification of each handwritten entry, data entry is much faster than manually keying the forms.
For companies that need to survey customers on a regular basis and want to ease the burden, Survey+ could be the answer.
by AutoData Systems
System requirements: 486 or higher processor, Windows 3.1 or 95, 8 MB RAM, 5 MB free disk space.
Price: $795 for software, $1,045 if purchased with AV100 scanner
Contact: AutoData Systems
6111 Blue Circle Drive
Minnetonka, MN 55343
Telephone: (800) 662-2192
Fax: (612) 938-4693