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Innovation: Monkey Business

The other day I logged back onto a couple of surveys I had opened and was in for a surprise — SurveyMonkey.com had redesigned its site entirely. To be sure, it looked pretty enough with new colors and possibly better features. If only I could find my way around again.

The other day I logged back onto a couple of surveys I had opened and was in for a surprise — SurveyMonkey.com had redesigned its site entirely. To be sure, it looked pretty enough with new colors and possibly better features. If only I could find my way around again.

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I don’t expect a company whose services I have been using for free to bend over backwards to tell me about the changes. Yet, I felt a bit betrayed at finding that many of the simple ways and buttons had been moved or eliminated entirely. In my experience the best way to get a new customer is to make an ally of a prospect.

To be sure, the company has every right to upgrade and retool its business to help users move more rapidly from free trials to paid customers. Is changing everything and expecting the user to find her way around the best approach?

Here is what I discovered upon my return:

1. The easy login prompt on the left navigation bar has been moved to a click on button on that bar that opens a new box smack in the center of the screen. While the feature looks slick, it failed to get me into the site more than three times. Too busy with volume, it said. I am already becoming impatient at this point as I have to log onto the system several times to gain access.

2. Once in, I am prompted to modify — and possibly upgrade — my account so my eye follows that screen down the form. Good tactic for sure. My intent though is to go and check my surveys, which I have used to gather information and preferences for free events RSVPs. That button has remained in the same place. The surprise is when I click on it.

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3. Clicking on the ‘my surveys’ button makes the left navigation bar disappear (it used to remain there, so my eye looks for it) and brings me onto the survey page where I can see the list and status, these have not changed. However, I now have to go back to the ‘collect survey’ link I created previously for the RSVP to enter a name and information. Except that now I can do that for one person only from my IP address, while before I could sign up multiple people at any time and by clicking on the survey on the same screen.

What a disaster! The surveys have now ceased to be as user-friendly to me and I will need to find another tool to manage a high volume of RSVPs so I can rely on counts and on being able to enter some of the names myself.

Was I a customer or a prospect of SurveyMonkey.com? Many online services that have made tools available to people for free to begin a conversation with them are now rethinking those strategies. They need more and faster conversions. Could SurveyMonkey.com have managed my expectations better? A better question yet, could they have used the information they already had on my usage patterns to design a better experience?

What about creating an online survey to ask users for feedback on the changes the company proposes? And maybe incorporating one or two questions to find out the circumstances and uses that would make me upgrade. The point of the free trials, I thought, was to get people into the conversation on the way to the conversion. Why not continue it? Are they in the survey business or are they just monkeying around?

Valeria Maltoni • Conversation Agent • Philadelphia, PA • ConversationAgent@gmail.comwww.conversationagent.com

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