Test Driving Voice of the Customer Surveys in Microsoft Dynamics


Microsoft has announced that Voice of the Customer surveys will be deprecated on 1 July 2020 following the release of Microsoft Forms Pro

With the arrival of CRM 2016, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online customers have access to a new survey tool for gathering client feedback and opinions.

Voice of the Customer (VoC) sits inside the CRM user interface and in this post I've outlined some of its capabilities from designing a new survey, sending invitations and analysing results.

The VoC module include the following collateral to support individual surveys:

  • Images - upload a logo and custom images that will be applied to surveys. Supports .jpg, .png & .gif files.
  • Themes - configure bespoke colour themes for surveys that fit business branding and preferences. This is separate from global CRM theme records and relates purely to the survey form controlling components including hover background, answer selection colours, navigation bars and other survey controls.

Click the Surveys option to create a new survey, or to look at a saved survey.

In the default view a list of active surveys is listed. For this example I'll focus on recently published customer satisfaction survey.

Within a survey record some of configuration options include:

  • Survey close date - after which responses won't be captured
  • Restrict multiple replies - limit respondents to 1 survey post only
  • Anonymous responses - responses aren't linked to CRM contacts, leads or cases
  • Use Captcha - set controls to authenticate responses
  • Unsubscribe - include an opt-out option on survey forms

On the same form, survey runtime controls include:

  • Theme - select which survey theme record will be applied
  • Progress bar & page numbers - for surveys consisting of several pages
  • Footer links - including email address, privacy policy
  • Navigation text - change the default next / previous options

The invitations and actions section in the Survey Record form includes:

  • Email snippet - a unique survey string that will pasted into a CRM email template to direct people to the survey. This will be automatically generated by the system when a new survey is saved.
  • Invitation link - rather than having the long snippet (above) exposed in the email invitation a call to action text can be applied instead e.g. Take our Survey
  • Anonymous survey - if this option has been set the generic URL will be shown here for invitations
  • Send email response - set an email template as an auto-responder when replies are posted

Survey Designer

The process to define survey questions is not immediately obvious from the user interface but this can be found by toggling the designer form from the top of the survey record.

From the designer each page, section and question format can be defined.

For this satisfaction survey I'll focus my questions on a single page but it's worth noting that VoC surveys must consist of a minimum of 3 pages so in this instance the survey record will have a welcome page, my questions and a post submission thank you page.

Personally, I found this 3 page requirement rather restrictive and this will likely limit the appeal of VoC when organisations want to direct clients to a very simple form where one or more questions are immediately shown.

Starting with the Page 1 we have a mandatory 'welcome'. There are three components to highlight which are consistent with all survey pages:

  1. Page form record: In this case it displays the name Polytrim Customer Feedback and on the CRM record a page type is set as 'Welcome Page'
  2. Section form: This is the umbrella under which each question will sit within a defined section or topic.
  3. Question form: Individual question form records will be dragged into the section form from the right panel. In the above example, we are looking at a welcome page so the item is a descriptive text box but this is still defined as a Question Form.

Survey Questions

The second page of this survey has the type set a 'questions page':

Now the Question Form does contain questions!

Here are just a few of the survey parts and questions that can be dragged into a section from the panel on the right:

  • Short or long answers - text boxes of varying sizes
  • Ratings - recipients give a star rating from 1 to 5 (or more) which can include half scores. Another option includes ratings by three colour coded flags
  • Date fields
  • Ranking enabling respondents to set an order for their preferences. In the example below a ranking has been defined for a survey question to collect individuals favourite holiday destinations.
  • Net Promoter Score - a metric to define how likely an individual will recommend
  • Customer effort Score - 5 point slider to rate how easy a client found it to deal with you
  • A standard CSAT satisfaction metric
  • Smilies rating - ask how respondents feel and capture their response in smiley that matches their mood. Publishers can choose from 9 different faces though in this release it doesn't appear possible to upload an define new smiley icons beyond the default ones.
  • Lists of Ratings - ask recipients to rate several items in one block. The example below has a list to ask what factors are important in choosing a new car:
  • Multiple ratings - similar to the above but using a grid of radio buttons to collect feedback per line
  • Upload a file - enabling respondents to upload and share supporting files.
  • Single response radio buttons
  • Multiple response tick boxes

Simple text edits to questions can be made from the designer screen, otherwise click these items to open the question record to make the changes.

For the first question I've created a smiley face question type so that customers can express their recent experiences.

In the general section the font and size of the question text can be set, other toolbar options can be applied for alignment and lists. This can be switched to an HTML view to add colour, or to apply other controls that don't appear on the basic toolbar.

Rules can be set to make questions mandatory, or to show on-screen help in the event that clarification might be needed.

For this question some response options need to be set. Rather than using the default 9 smilies I've selected 6 response options / faces that will be shown as big buttons.

The data could also be captured in response to this question using radio buttons or a drop down list but smileys should hopefully resonate better with an audience...

Scoring can be set for individual answers to grade question answers and to calculate an overall survey score. Scores can be user defined for added weighting, or use the system generated 1-100 or 100-1 depending on the answer sequence i.e. poor - excellent or vice versa.

Survey publishers can also personalise survey forms by piping data in from CRM fields, for example a customer name, CRM user, product or location. We've shared more information about this in a separate post.

Conditional Rules

The most effective surveys are those which adapt in response to the answers provided.

Rather than everyone answering the same questions these surveys are more flexible by routing respondents down different branches or asking them to provide more detail in the context of an answer they've given.

The good news is that Voice of the Customer includes this feature!

Survey publishers are able to apply conditional controls which can include expanding a hidden question, or entire survey section, hiding a page or section, skipping to survey page, or ending the survey based on one or more answers given.

To demonstrate this I'll set a conditional rule using selected answers to the above smiley face question.

Firstly, I've added 2 'long answer' question type to the survey form. One, asks people what they like about the service and another asks what we should be done to improve service.

By default rules have set to hide both questions when the page loads but I want to apply some rules to display these based on the smiley rating given. These rules will reflect:

  • Very Satisfied or Satisfied Smiley - SHOW "What do you like about our service"
  • Disappointed or Annoyed Smiley - SHOW "What could we do to improve"

These rules are applied from the Response Routing option within the Survey record.

The screenshot below shows two response paths have been defined for both of the above eventualities as Response Routing Forms:

Let's look at the positive Satisfied Response record...

This firstly defines the routing conditions:

In this example, the routing is triggered when survey respondents click either the 'Very Satisfied' or 'Satisfied' smiley face.

As depicted the GROUP OR rule has been applied to catch both answers to this question.

This is a fairly simple example but more complex trigger rules could be set potentially using GROUP AND to combine multiple question answers.

Now that the criteria has been set further down the form the action can be checked.

This confirms that for this condition the survey will display the question 'What did you especially like...":

This question record is referenced after selecting the relevant survey page and then the survey section.

A further 'otherwise' action had been set to make sure this question remains hidden if any other answer / smiley is selected. This is especially useful if a recipient were to initially click 'satisfied' before changing their mind and then selecting a neutral or dissatisfied option, in this instance to ensure consistency the extra question box would need to be hidden again.

To complete the conditional rules a similar process has been set to show / hide the other question for negative smiley responses.

Completion Page

The final page in the survey will likely consist of a single descriptive box thanking respondents for their feedback:

If you've incentivized your survey with an offer this could potentially be used to display an offer code, or enable people to download a promised PDF file. The text toolbar is again fairly basic but HTML can be applied to add colour, or to insert hyperlinks.

Distributing Surveys

One thing you may have noticed about this survey is the lack of contact field for names and email addresses in the form.

Thanks to the embedded solution of VoC within Dynamics CRM Online replies are automatically linked to associated contacts, cases and leads, assuming the anonymous option hasn't been selected.

With the absence of these familiar survey fields customers might already perceive their feedback to be anonymous, potentially eliciting a more candid reply?

The first step in this process is to grab the unique survey snippet from the toolbar.

This can then be pasted into a CRM email template that will be used to distribute the survey:

From the above view the long snippet is shown but if you've defined the invitation text link this will appear when the email is read by a recipient as shown below:

It's important to note that unless this is an anonymous survey the invitation must be sent from CRM as an email template otherwise the snippet will not link to the survey form. As a result, I don't see that this would work for emails sent by integrated marketing automation services or from Outlook - unless an anonymous survey URL is used.

Email templates can be sent individually, as a mail merge within a Quick Campaign or distributed as part of a workflow process.

Here is confirmation of how this 3 page survey looks:

1. The Welcome Page

2. The Question Page

This shows the default view with the two long questions hidden...

...but when the Disappointed or Annoyed face is selected the 'What could we do to improve...' question is shown at the bottom:

Or, when a Satisfied or Very Satisfied face is selected it pops up the 'What do you especially like...' question instead:

3. The Survey Completion Page

Survey Responses

All survey responses are listed in the main VoC menu, or select an individual survey to analysis these replies:

There are numerous views in CRM Online to analyse responses. These include filtering by facial expression all / positive / negative, Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort and by time period.

The above view lists all the individuals who have responded to the survey. In line with the rules set the system has calculated a score for each respondent and an associated % so that these responses can be easily graded or filtered.

By opening an individual survey response more detail is shown:

  • The response has been linked back to the CRM contact record
  • The date and time the survey was completed
  • Which survey record was used
  • The survey score reached and the maximum score attainable
  • The % of this maximum score

Further detail is shown including supporting comments that a respondent has entered:

Survey responses and activities are also accessible from associated contacts, leads or contacts and this detail appears in the activity pane.

Within the survey record pre-configured dashboard components include total invitations, replies received, percentage score from all responses, weekly /monthly response rates and numerous other metrics. This data could also be pushed out to Power BI for further analysis.

As with any CRM view, charts can be added to visualise the data. In the below example the defined report grades reported smiley face answers into 3 categories with individual answers colour coded within each bar.

How Voice of the Customer Compares

The undoubted strength of Voice of the Customer is its native integration with Dynamics CRM Online which simplifies the process for sending invitations, analysing results in CRM, enriching customer data and triggering automated actions when responses are received.

Voice of the Customer is included for the price of a CRM Online Enterprise licence.

October 2016 Update: Voice of the Customer will be included with each full licence of Microsoft Dynamics 365

This solution is based on the IP of the Mojo Surveys solution that Microsoft acquired back in 2015. While Mojo was a well established enterprise level survey tool that worked with Dynamics this is the first Microsoft release embedded within the Dynamics UI and coming fresh out of preview at times the user experience might not feel as slick as other survey tools like Survey Monkey, dotSurvey or even ClickDimension's own survey builder.

Undoubtedly future CRM releases will make further improvements but based on my own experiences of working with Voice of the Customer its potential is huge when you consider the controls and capabilities that it already offers today.

If customer surveys matter to your organisation it's well worth evaluating VoC now and getting on board with this solution!