Proponents of big data analytics tout the benefits of collecting data from sensors and other devices connected to each other by the Internet of Things (IoT), but that method does not capture the whole data picture when it comes to your enterprise customers. Sometimes, the best and most effective way to gather customer data for analytical purposes is the old-fashioned way—ask them questions.
Microsoft Forms is part of the Office 365 Business Premium package and is a cloud-based application designed to be used for asking questions and compiling the responses using the power of cloud services. Forms can handle everything from simple poll questions to complicated branching questionnaires and quizzes. This quick tutorial will show you how Microsoft Forms works and suggests some ways the application could simplify your future data analytical tasks.
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Keep in mind that as of September 2017, Microsoft Forms is considered a preview version, so some of the following procedures could change slightly depending on feedback.
To access Forms, log in to the online version of Office 365 and use the app switcher to find the corresponding Forms icon in the menu. Since it is a new preview app, the default position is near the bottom of the menu, so you may have to scroll. Click the Forms icon to start the app. You should see a screen similar to Figure A.
To create a new form or quiz, click the appropriate button. When you do, you will be asked to enter your first question and be given a choice of question type (Figure B). You have these options:
- Choice - Answer a multiple-choice question
- Text - Provide a written essay answer
- Rating - Click how many stars
- Date - Give your date of birth, etc.
- Ranking - List your favorite to least favorite
After you create your question and corresponding answers, you can specify whether respondents can have multiple answers and whether the question must be answered before moving to the next question. After you have written more than one question, you can choose to move specific questions up and down the entire list of questions to change the sequence, as shown in Figure C.
Once your set of questions is complete, you can share it with as many or as few potential respondents as you desire by clicking the Share tab in the commands menu. You will have several choices on how you want to share your questionnaire. You can share with specific people via email or you can create a link to share with members of your domain. You can also create a link to share with anyone. In addition, Forms will create an embed code you can use to insert your questionnaire into a webpage. (Figure D)
To check responses, click the Responses tab on your questionnaire. Forms will display a chart listing the responses and graphing out the results, as shown in Figure E. You can transfer the results to Excel for further analysis if you wish, and from there you can transfer the results to other analytical tools, like Power BI.
As you can see, Microsoft Forms is easy to use, but it's also effective. If you want to see what a Forms poll looks like to a respondent, check out the example question I made for this tutorial regarding Windows—I'll keep it live for the foreseeable future.
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In years past, an enterprise looking to conduct a customer satisfaction survey or produce a questionnaire would have to commission a service company specializing in the practicalities of those tasks. These companies would typically have proprietary software available that could ask the questions and compile the responses. Those days are long gone.
Microsoft Forms allows enterprises to conduct customer surveys, question trainees to determine their knowledge of procedures, confirm compliance with human resources training, etc. And it does this without having to hire specialized services or teams of application developers. If you have Office 365 Business Premium or one of the enterprise versions, Forms could be a real time-saver for your company.
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Are you still using a service to create your customer surveys? Are you ready to try something new? Share your thoughts and opinions with your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.