The Difficulty Of Obtaining Good Data

Are you also annoyed by the emails you get after you have been in a hotel or booked a rental car. For the hundredth time you are asked: “How satisfied were you with our service? Please help us by answering a little survey.” Oh, dear. It gets bad when the “small survey” leads to a never ending chain of questions and at the very end the hint to write a second rating on Tripadvisor. I’m already thinking about creating a blacklist of companies that send out surveys. Why? Because my effort is high, but a benefit for me is not visible.

But that is exactly my job now. Getting data from customers who use our software. And this data, this feedback is important. It’s how we can ensure that we continue to develop our solutions in the right direction. It’s all about collecting data and providing benefits for customers.

Automated Or Manual Data Collection

In many cases data is collected automatically. When you install software, you will be asked if you want to provide data to the developers. Do you allow this? Privacy experts often advise against it. However, I do allow it in individual cases if a software is important to me and I trust the manufacturer. Whether this trust is justified is a completely different question.

But how relevant is such automated data collection? Especially in the B2B environment, I hear time and again that no data collection is allowed in production systems, but only in test systems. But then the collected data can be misleading. Whatever you do when data is collected automatically, you should check exactly how relevant the data is.

You can force the collection of data from production systems, for example by linking it to support contracts. Only if data is sent, there will be good support. More and more companies are making this a requirement. Via the Internet of Things, machine parts deliver information to servers to improve maintenance. I think this is very interesting, but in the data center environment I still see a lot of skepticism among customers.

Sending email surveys is also part of automated data collection for me. But the feedback rate can be low. The questions must be asked in a way that prevents misunderstandings in interpretation. We use email surveys in part because it scales well. But at the same time the data quality suffers because relatively few answers come in, and sometimes the answers do not fit the questions.

I currently collect my data mostly manually by interviews. This is more complex, but the quality of the data is extremely high. The biggest hurdle here is to find the right people who know how to use our software and who are willing to answer questions. We try to scale this up through our sales teams and product champions (our fans). You have to remember that it is a give and take. Just asking for information without delivering anything – that’s not good. We directly provide special technical information and tips, and indirectly provide better software once the feedback has been implemented. In this partnership we are making progress.

Connecting The Worlds

We plan to link the automatic and manual data collection. Automatically, as much relevant technical information as possible should be collected. This data can then be supplemented manually via ratings or information on priorities on the customer side. Let’s see where this journey takes us.