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Alert: Does your data collection app have it all? Check to find out!

Mathew Maniyamkott

Mathew Maniyamkott

8 min read

There are a lot of instances when you cannot reach the customer for a survey on their online devices. This is where data collection devices bridge the gap without having to take thousands of prints outs of your questionnaires, collating them, sifting through them and finally having to input all of this data manually.

Digital forms are smarter, faster and do not make any errors on its own. In fact, it reduces human errors to a significant extent by providing the data in a logical, attractive and easy-to-consume manner. Giving your field employees the ability to get a response collected anywhere not only helps them but extends the ability for your business to reach a lot of people.

But why should you have a data collection app?

Using remote data collection methods mean that a lot of efficiencies might be lost which can only be solved by technology. Most field data collection methods have become obsolete these days and a lot of businesses around the world realize how mobile apps, cloud-based systems, and other technology is helping with quicker and more efficient results.

The first and probably the biggest advantage of using a data collection app is that you would not need an Internet connection. In fact, faulty internet connections are one of the biggest reasons why people drop out of surveys. Let’s see some more of them:

a. Mitigation of risks

You can never put a value on information. Mobile forms, invariably, are difficult to lose. The respondents can fill the form and the information can be shared instantaneously thus mitigating any kind of data loss that might happen. In fact, even if the form is not shared, most data collection apps come with the ability to store the information on the cloud directly.

b. Fewer data errors

While transcribing content from the paper forms to a digital form with the intention to store, there is a lot that can go wrong. Using smartphone, tablets or any other piece of technology to collect the data will reduce the number of transcription errors as there are no human-related inconsistencies and it is easy to go back and verify the information.

Using digital devices to collect data can also help with auditing features that can improve the data and help with standardization. With the help of the visualization tools available on the dashboard, you can also look for any issues in the way that you have collected data.

c. Saves a lot of time

Saying that remote data collection apps save a lot of time is an understatement as it completely changes the data collecting landscape with its efficiency. Transferring the data from the device to the data analysis team takes zero time because it is instantaneous. Integrating this data with 3rd party tools to analyze it further is also sped up as this task can be automated.

d. Capture a wide range of data

The data collection devices are portable which makes it easy to carry around and can be used widely in different environments. Using the tool you can capture different kinds of data that includes video, audio, photos, text, and more.

e. Easy to track

Another big advantage of using data collection apps is that they are extremely easy when it comes to tracking the data. Paper forms take up a lot of time before it can be used effectively (read transcribed), but the data is almost invariably available to all the stakeholders when you use a data collection app. Also, this means that you can track each of the responses not only in real-time but also know from where some of the information is coming from.

Even if you don’t have WiFi or cellular service, you can still collect data which is a huge plus. You can capture relevant and accurate data from the place where the experience happened. Anytime when you are not able to get connected to an Internet connection, the offline survey app allows you to gather responses without it.

Now that we agree on why data collection app is a must-have, here are some of the features that data collection apps should possess.

8 Must-have features of a data collection app

1. Auto-fill option

Filling out long forms can not only be time-consuming for the respondent but undesirable for them because not all surveys have incentives attached to it. Auto-fill option reduces errors that might crop up in data entry and it significantly reduces the amount of time taken to complete a survey.

2. Offline data collection

One of the best things about a data collection app is its ability to collect data from anywhere without the help of an Internet connection. The offline survey app can store the data offline and should have the ability to sync it when connected or store it in the cloud when it is offline.

3. Intuitive form builder

It is a given that all businesses are different, not only do they have different use-cases, most of them work very differently. It is imperative that you give the business the option to style the survey as much as they want. Not only in terms of design, but in terms of functionality so that they can use it to the fullest. Help the business to create advanced form functional features so that the feedback can be used to create the maximum impact for the business and in turn for the final user.

4. Captures audio

A data collection app is much more efficient when it comes with the ability to capture audio. It means that the surveyor can record audio interviews which has much more credence than a simple text survey. If the app has the facility to convert the audio into a text format, this can be further analyzed and used to make changes if the need arises.

5. Geo-tag location

Being able to grab the location from which a survey was answered will give you a lot of clarity and can help you with the context as well. It is important to keep track of where the data collector is located as well as finding out the areas from which surveys are being taken. The data collection app should be able to document the location with detailed geo-tagging that integrates with any software that produces maps.

6. Signature capture

The data collection app should come with a signature capture field on the mobile survey page. It should have the feature where a user can sign using the finger directly on the device. Not only does it save a lot of time, but it also helps with making the authentication procedure much faster.

7. Rich dashboard

The dashboard of the survey should be in such a way that you should be able to get deep insights from taking a look at it. It should tell you the number of people who completed the survey, the number of visits to the survey page, the page at which people dropped off, completion rate and so on. All of these will give you a better overview of the kind of respondents. You can even get details like IP address of the respondents, questions and responses in a table format, the time the survey was started and when it was finished. The dashboard should also allow the management to view the responses in real-time so that quick action can be taken on areas that need immediate attention.

8. Skip Logic

It is the ability for the survey to skip questions based on certain logic where the respondents don’t have to answer questions which are not relevant to them. Creating such custom paths based on previous answers helps save time for both the parties involved.

That said, which are the industries that just can’t do without an offline survey app? We’ll tell you.

The offline data collection process becomes extremely important in certain industries where it is not really feasible to send the survey questions via an email. A lot of companies find it impossible to collect data because there is no internet connection available at all times. Let’s discuss four industries which have a lot riding on the offline data collection process when it comes to collecting customer feedback. Does yours fall in this list? A competent data collection app can get you that edge you were after.

  • Hospitality industry

This industry would be well equipped with a device that lets them collect feedback via a survey tool. More often than not, you see that hotels use paper forms to collect feedback from its visitors. While there is nothing wrong with collecting feedback on paper forms, it is not the smartest way to do business as you would end up wasting a lot of time on collating the data and analyze them manually when you can use the services of a data collection app thus saving hundreds of man-hours as well.

There is so much potential for a business in the hospitality industry to stay connected with its customers by sending them birthday/anniversary wishes, sending them emails (and SMSes) when they check-in and check-out, courtesy emails and more. All of this happens using the data collection app using which we not only get the feedback but also use it to collect information about the customers to serve them better.

  • Education

When you are teaching students through different forms, sometimes in person, then you need to get feedback from them without using the services of an email survey tool. A field data collection app can get this job done without any hiccup. Each student can be asked to write detailed feedback and use it to better the services offered.

The data collection app can help you understand the psyche of students and parents with regards to their feedback about courses, teachers and the facilities that are provided. Apart from the very many features that we have described here, it also comes with a Scoring feature which will help your business evaluate the performance of the staff. Use the Net Promoter Score to evaluate the effectiveness of seminars, events and study materials.

  • Travel and Tourism

Collect feedback from the guests on arrival and departure using the field data collection app so that you can meet and even exceed their expectations as the tour progresses. No one wants their travel experience to be hassle-filled, in fact, they want it to be memorable, enjoyable and smooth. Using the data from the data collection app’s feedback would be the first step towards creating such an experience. Using a data collection app here, you can analyze customer feedback centrally for different locations too.

  • Hospitals

The healthcare industry can do a lot by taking the feedback of patients at regular intervals using the field data collection app. Also, using regular surveys you can gather and assess feedback about treatments, facilities, and doctors. Since the patient is taking the survey on the premises of the hospital, if there is negative feedback, you can take immediate action. In fact, if you have more than one hospital, a data collection app would be able to manage them for the patient without them having to collect reports from different places.

In areas that are not connected with the Internet, the data collection app will still work. The data that is collected offline can be synced when the app is connected to an Internet connection. An app such as this can also send reminder patients through SMS and emails about the next appointment.

Conclusion

There is a lot of processes that happen before you complete a data collection process. While it is a laborious process where a lot of stakeholders are involved and many resources are required, it is imperative that you use the wonder that is technology to make the most bang for your buck. Field data collection comes with its own set of problems that can be mitigated by using the right tools, technology and creating adequate infrastructure.

Businesses can get meaningful insights from such surveys that they can use to better their business prospects. The data collection app makes it possible for you to get feedback from the clients at the physical location itself, get the feedback in a non-intrusive manner, collate it and analyze them in seconds. In fact, you don’t have to do much to find patterns, the answers from a feedback session are almost instantaneous and reflect on the dashboard.

With the help of a data collection process, you can achieve reduced overhead costs, increase customer satisfaction, increase the productivity of your employees, lessen the man-hours spent on collecting feedback, remember that all of these directly affect the bottom line of the company. If you are looking for an offline survey app that reflects your business values and is highly efficient, look no further than Survey Sparrow.

Mathew Maniyamkott
Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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