Over the past 15+ years of working for software companies of all sizes and serving many different markets, I’ve noticed a few constants. A basic observation that really shouldn’t be rocket science is that if you aren’t in business to make your customers’ lives easier, then you should probably find another business that isn’t dependent on customers. Oh wait, aren’t all businesses dependent on customers? That seems logical, but we’ve all had experiences with companies and products that don’t put their customers first.
At Vision Critical, we strive to help customer-centric brands ensure that their customers are front and center in all facets of decision making. One of the ways that many of our customers use their Sparq insight communities is to gather input for product co-creation or enhancement. And at Vision Critical, we like nothing better than to drink our own champagne (that sounds nicer than eating our own dog food, doesn’t it?).
In 2019, the feedback we received from our own insight community, Sparq Next, and hundreds of customer votes for product enhancements were ultimately released into the Sparq platform. Today I want to highlight 10 of the best ways our customers helped to make Sparq a better platform and to make their work lives a little easier.
Improved Data Accessibility and Protection
One of our biggest priorities this year has been to improve data accessibility and protection so that it is easier to access and use data to inform Sparq and other systems of record, and to do so in a way that ensures data accessibility is protected. In Q3 of 2019, we added:
1. High Performance APIs
New high-performance APIs provide enhanced data access through an exponential increase in the performance and scalability of bulk data exports—up to 15x faster than before. This supports richer and deeper application of customer data through integrations in order to enable greater ROI achievement across business objectives.
2. Sensitive Data Protection
An early access program for the protection of consent data with improved controls to ensure only designated users can access sensitive or personally identifiable information (PII). These controls ensure only designated users can access sensitive data and are designed to help your organization with its data governance policies and data protection compliance within the regions your organization serves.
Core to making our customers’ lives a little easier is always finding ways to make the Sparq platform more user-friendly so that users can work more efficiently. While we added a number of efficiency enhancements this year, I want to call out four improvements specifically:
3. Simplified Distribution Page
The distribution page was updated based on input from many customers and now gives Sparq users a more intuitive experience. Users can distribute activities with confidence by using dedicated tabs for each stage of the distribution process and can view a confirmation checklist before sending or scheduling.
4. Undo/Redo in Surveys
This feature enables the survey author to revert mistakes and saves significant time and effort by allowing undo or redo of errors rather than completing the function all over again. Since its release, this feature has been utilized over 7,000 times—that’s a lot of time and effort saved!
5. Member Search
Our enhanced member search provides an easier interface to engage with when completing tasks like purging a member, restoring a member, viewing a member’s activity history, updating a PV, and troubleshooting with member support/customer inquiries. Sixty percent of Sparq customers are now utilizing Member Search to find or understand individual members of their insight community.
6. Hub Invitations
With hub invitations, users can post activity links directly to the member hub, and only to the member hub and allows administrators to optimize participation rates and hub engagement by providing an entry point into activities without over-burdening members with emails.
Enhanced Measurement and Metrics
The ability to clearly understand member engagement is critical to the health of insight communities. With input from our customers, new metrics and measurements were rolled out this year including:
7. Individual Member Participation Metrics
A new page allows users to see a high-level snapshot of an individual member and their lifetime participation, response, and completion rates. Users can also filter on activities that were included in community stats.
8. Open Rate Tracking
Sparq now has increased ability to measure the effectiveness of invitations and reminders with the introduction of Open Rate Tracking. In addition to seeing how many recipients started an activity, users can also see how many opened their email in order to better understand which elements of emails are most effective in order to optimize participation rates.
New and Improved Templates
Last, but certainly not least, Sparq customers asked for more best practice templates and better ability to share templates they have created. I really could have included this with the Enhanced Efficiency group because these capabilities create great efficiencies, but I think our template work stands on its own. This year customers now have access to both:
9. Question Template Library
Survey authors can now save a single step or a block of many steps as a template for reuse in any other survey and share those templates with other users or browse the shared templates of others. Since this feature was released in Spring 2019, over 1,300 templates have been created by customers.
10. Best Practice Templates
Made available this fall, our team of experienced insight professionals developed a new set of templates that allow customers to quickly start gathering insights for the most common research methodologies. Templates are available to accelerate activities for Idea Generation and Refinement, Brand and Category Measurement, and Engagement.
Stay Tuned for More…
While these were just the highlights of enhancements to the Sparq platform this year, many more capabilities were introduced. And we’re not done. 2020—and Vision Critical’s 20th anniversary—is just around the corner, and with it comes a whole new opportunity to listen to our customers and help them make the best use of their time on the Sparq platform.