Storytelling About SurveySparrow with Shihab Muhammed

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 136. This week we have storytelling about SurveySparrow with Shihab Muhammed. During this episode, Shihab and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing SurveySparrow.

Shihab is the founder and CEO at SurveySparrow and an expert in all things SaaS and data. His passion to help companies to improve employee and candidate experience by analyzing feedback and continuously upgrading their systems, thereby helping them to build a better brand, really comes through during the podcast.

Living up to its claims, SurveySparrow is much more than just a “survey” platform. It is an omni-channel experience management platform designed to heighten engagement, inspire performance and achieve solutions. The system offers dynamic forms, detailed insights, integrations and automations accessible to over 50 languages. In addition, it’s equipped to cater to enterprises with advanced security, white labeling and a custom data centre.

What we’re trying to say is, “It’s really freaking cool. Check it out.”

A few things we unpack in this session: How are customers using SurveySparrow? And what are a few examples of impactful insights? What is “sentiment analysis mode”? How can this help solve issues across different areas? Do integrations with platforms like Slack help improve employee engagement and experience?

Of course, there’s more! But you must tune in to find out. Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 33 minutes

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Shihab Muhammed
Founder & CEO SurveySparrow

SaaS entrepreneur, growth leader. Built and scaled multi-million dollar SaaS products. Passionate about building user-friendly SaaS products.

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Music:  00:02
Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds and recruitment in HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William:  00:25
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today, we have Shihab on from SurveySparrow, and we’re going to be talking about the use case, the business case that practitioners make for buying a software. So we’ll start off with introductions. Shihab, will you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and SurveySparrow?

Shihab:  00:46
Absolutely, William. It’s a pleasure. My name is Shihab Muhammed. I’m the founder and CEO of SurveySparrow. At SurveySparrow, we help our customers to collect feedback at every touchpoint, get that customer feedback or employee feedback, and help companies to improve the experience by analyzing the feedback and continuously improving the system, thereby help them to build a brand.

William:  01:18
I love that. So again, continuous feedback, that’s pretty much on with the employees, especially they want that. They desire that. And so, you’re providing a service that basically helps HR managers or the C-suite, et cetera, monitor and understand what’s going on with employees. So give us some examples of how some of your customers use this and what insights did they get.

Shihab:  01:46
Absolutely. One of the things which people are doing is we actually support to gather feedback even right within Slack channels, right? So basically, you can set up monthly employee engagement or monthly employee pulse surveys, which can be automatically set it at SurveySparrow, which will automatically trigger to all the employees, including the channels like Slack. It can collect feedback either right within email or right within Slack. And then we can get all those feedbacks back, and then it’ll automatically create a report. Also, you can create your own reports using our executive dashboard feature. You’ll be able to continuously monitor the engagement score is moving and how the employee engagement is working. That is one part of the story.

Shihab:  02:47
Another part which we do really well is we actually help many customers, including Dream11, to do performance appraisals by way of employee 360 product within SurveySparrow, so which means you can actually help your employees to understand or get feedback from all your managers, peers and reportees from everyone and then understand where they’re lacking and how do they improve a lot, right? That’s where is the 360 part comes into play and employees can continuously, if we can do four times a year, every quarter, if we can do it at 360 view of the survey, then the employees can absolutely perform from the feedback from all the peers, managers [inaudible 00:03:52].

William:  03:53
So a couple things, let’s unpack a few things because I really liked… There’s a bunch of things that I want to ask about. So gathering feedback, gaining that insight, running reports, what do you… You’re essentially trying to gain as a manager, as a leader, you’re trying to gain insight into what’s driving your employees. I love the fact that it’s integrated with Slack and just working where they already are. You’d be able to ask questions. Again, people can tailor those questions to find out different things that are going on, but it’s about getting insight. And then I would assume that taking that insight and then doing something with it and creating some type of action, right? So a few questions, one is with feedback, is it tied to someone’s ID? Do you know, as a manager, that you’re getting William’s feedback, or can I give you feedback or give the company feedback anonymously?

Shihab:  05:06
You can definitely give an anonymous feedback, but generally, when you start any engagement surveys, it is absolutely anonymous. We will actually show the result as aggregated result only. We won’t show the individual things, right?

William:  05:21
Oh, I like that.

Shihab:  05:22
So basically, they agree. Yes.

William:  05:25
Yeah. I like that a lot, because again sometimes people, though you ask them for feedback and if they think that you know it’s them, then they’re maybe reticent to then say what’s really on their mind, but if they can then post that anonymously, and again, you take all that and you aggregate, you gather the insights. Do you foresee in that particular product down the road with your roadmap, do you see insights for you turning into recommendations on how to make things better? Again, you’re taking an aggregate. Employees don’t feel respected. Okay. And that just keeps happening over and over and over and over. Okay. That’s insight, which is good. Didn’t know before. Now, we know. What do they do? Again, it’s left for companies to figure out. I get that. But do you see SurveySparrow at one point serving up recommendations on how to fix certain problems?

Shihab:  06:29
Definitely. Even those, we do have a sentiment analysis model, which is already there, right? Also, we do have a workflow, which says what people are talking about it, right? These things itself will give you an insight, more or less what’s really happening inside the organization. On top of it is we do have a small case, manage case, or task management module is there, which right now does a manual thing, which can be created. From these insight, you’ll be able to create a case or a task, which can be assign to a particular department or particular person so that can they improve upon it, right? That is already available. Yeah. Obviously, there is some little bit of manual element is there, but at the same time, what we are thinking is in the long run, we wanted to learn from these things ourself and then give the recommendation using our AI, ML engine, right? So that’s what is like which we are seeing in the roadmap.

William:  07:29
I can see that being extremely powerful, especially with a little AI and machine learning over time. It just learns, not just that organization, but just all organizations, if something comes up. It’s like the Amazon recommendation engine. It’s just like, “Okay, employees by and large, 87% of your employees don’t feel like they’re being respected. Okay. Here’s four ways to solve that problem.” Again, I even love the way it’s currently set up that you can task. You can do something with that insight and task somebody with it. But again, in the future, I love being able to pull that data, give them recommendations and then task somebody with that. So I love that. Just so the audience understands, they can set up the feedback loop to be every quarter, once a week, every hour, whatever the velocity of that. They can set that up to be whatever they want it to be. Correct?

Shihab:  08:32
Correct. That’s where we want it to be.

William:  08:36
What’s your general recommendation when you first work with a client? Maybe they don’t have a feedback mechanism per se. What’s your general feedback when you say, “Hey, listen, it’s important to get feedback. Okay. Let’s state it and covered”? How often do you want them to start when they’re just starting out?

Shihab:  09:03
So especially given the current pandemic, so people are working from remote or working from home, those times is like it’s very, very important to have frequently having those feedback, right? One of the things is the employee engagement or general wellness service can run in a monthly, every month kind of thing. At the same time, some of our customers are using for even for daily standup kind of thing. Basically, you can actually ask some three questions over yesterday. What’s your plan for today? Is there any roadblock kind of thing? That can even run on a daily basis.

Shihab:  09:46
That can be integrated with Slack and these questions will come right within Slack, and then they can actually… While starting the day, they can just answer those things. There is no particular rule is like it has to be happening monthly or daily or weekly kind of thing, but the same type based on the use case. For example, if you want to do a standup, I would recommend daily, but if it is an employee engagement or a pulse survey, I would recommend on monthly basis, right? Generally, if you are doing a performance appraisal via 360, that can be done in a quarterly basis.

William:  10:27
Probably customer to customer, maybe different types of talent, size of company, region, there’s probably some other factors that think about how people want feedback and how people not just want to be able to give feedback, but then see the action that happens from their feedback. Because I think that’s one of the frustrations historically with giving feedback and employee feedback in general is that employees will give the feedback and then nothing happens or the perception is that nothing happens. And so, there’s kind of a how do you close that loop as a manager, as a leader to then say, “Feedback’s been received. Here’s what we’re doing. Thank you for your feedback, A. Message received, and here’s what we’re doing to resolve the feedback that you gave us.” In the future, do you see that closed loop of communication between the person that’s giving the feedback and then those that use the feedback and then do something with it?

Shihab:  11:34
Yes. Even those, we support the previous thing, which I mentioned that the case management/task management part, you can use to respond into any of these feedback. Basically, it’s like you can respond, obtain that from what is action you are actually doing on those feedback. So close the loop is already available in the collection.

William:  11:56
Well, I like that. Okay. So let’s move to performance appraisals and performance review and employee 360 in particular. Again, this is an extension of feedback, right? So employee 360 historically has been you’re going to give feedback on yourself and you’re going to get everyone around you that works with you, et cetera, give feedback on you. And then you’re going to then review that with your manager and just see what you learn about yourself and then put yourself on a path to being better. Again, it’s not all negative. I think sometimes when people hear employee 360 or even performance appraisals, they think it’s negative. It’s like, no, it doesn’t have to be and it’s not. It’s really trying to unlock where someone’s doing something well, and the kudos that go with that and where folks need to learn, and again, unlocking that as well.

William:  13:00
So, take us into employee 360. So you built that. Obviously, you built that engine and you had mentioned you can set this up as quarterly. I’m assuming that people can set that up at different ranges as well, depending on the employee and the manager, et cetera. They can do those appraisals quarterly, twice a year, once a year, once a week, once a month, whatever. They can set up that schedule and that’s-

Shihab:  13:36

William:  13:36
Correct. What do you typically see? When you deal with prospects and customers, they’re either reticence of employee 360 or their excitement, like the pros and cons? What do you see out of your prospects?

Shihab:  13:58
So what we… in terms of usage is like people… This performance appraisal, we don’t see this 360 as a penalty plan. It is more of getting feedback from people and then improving themselves, right? So those people, we recommend doing this thing, right? So this is a feedback thing is happening every quarter. Maybe the real appraisal might be happening once in a year or once in six months kind of thing. But at the same time, generally, I don’t recommend doing is like, okay, this employee 360 along within appraisal cycle, because people will be a little afraid of whether this rating is going to impact my salary, my core, right?

William:  14:45
Great point. Great point. Yeah.

Shihab:  14:46
So I always recommend to do it in two different months, or at least is a little apart.

William:  14:53
Right. Off cycle so that they don’t put A and B together. When folks are doing it in with SurveySparrow, when you’re doing a 360, is that also or can that also be anonymous?

Shihab:  15:10
Yes, it is absolutely anonymous. It’ll combine all those things. Only one place it may not be an anonymous is if you have only one manager and that manager’s feedback will be fitted there. That part will be coming. Obviously, is like, okay, that’ll happen, obviously, between the manager and reportee, definitely they have to be transparent, right?

William:  15:36
Yeah. At that point, you know who gave you the feedback because you can just do simple deduction. The thing, at least historically, with 360 is you want to get both your peers in a larger group setting, let’s say. You want to get your peers. You want to get subordinates. You want to get people that are managers, that are people above you, below you and at the same level, which just use those as common language. Do you see that with your customers and when they approach 360, is they want a tapestry of feedback?

Shihab:  16:20
They come for? I’m sorry. Explain.

William:  16:23
Yeah. Do they want feedback from above, below and peers?

Shihab:  16:30
Yes. Yes, absolutely. So basically, the report condensed in aggregated value only. So basically, what we are seeing is we are seeing a minimum five or six people is giving feedback and we have seen people going up to 15 people, right? In that case, it will be a little better if you have probably 10 people. At least, there are actually three or four roles are there. Peer is one role. In every peer, what we are seeing is at least four peers are reviewing and at least it’s like three to four reportees are reviewing, one manager is reviewing and sometimes not even one manager. If there is any other managers whom they’re not directly reporting also is giving the feedback.

Shihab:  17:17
Self also is coming, and then all these getting compared in the report, right? So people will get as like… Okay. Basically, the report contains… There are some items like playing sports, whereas like, “I think I am good at, but other thing I’m not good at.” Right? So those kind of things is areas of improvement, where it’s like I can improve a lot of things, right? So basically, those things are really written well within the report based on the gap between the self-rating and other rating kind of thing.

William:  17:52
Right. Does SurveySparrow guide them? Because I know that you have sentiment analysis elsewhere, but does that guide them on strengths of this person, weaknesses of this person, observations, critical feedback. Does it give them categories or does it allow them just to kind of, “Here’s Janet. What’s your feedback for Janet?” And then just lets them put in what they want to put in.

Shihab:  18:23
No. The questions will be, for example, if there are 20 questions, all the questions should be there, but at the same time, in the report, sometimes it will be based on your competencies, right? So one competency will have maybe four or five questions, can create one competency. Based on that one average score of that one, we will actually help people to understand where they are lagging and how they can improve in that particular competency. You can absolutely customer any of these competencies.

William:  18:53
I love that, which gets me to workflow. So one of the things I love is that you can work in Slack. But for those that might not have Slack, you obviously can work with those folks as well. We’ll deal with both products, right? Well, where does feedback go? Where in the workflow should feedback be, again, captured and then put somewhere else and then action, et cetera? It will do the same thing with 360, of course. But where in the workflow is it? More importantly, what other systems should feedback be tied to?

Shihab:  19:38
So basically, how it works is basically we expect that our companies to use a CSV import of their organization start, which will help us to identify how people are related to each other. Then, we will actually let the person who’s running at 360 to design, which are the subject he should run on. Sometimes they need to run across the organization. In that cases, we’ll run a closer organization. Also, either the managers can decide to who should be rating this employee or employees themselves can recommend who should rate them, right? Then once it is actually decided who should be rating each of these in one of the methods, and then it’ll be actually the survey form will be distributed or the online survey form will be distributed to all the people who are designated evaluators for the particular subject.

Shihab:  20:40
They all will evaluate. The evaluators could be either peers or manager or reportee or anybody, right? They evaluate all those things. Once we got all these evaluations and once that is completed, we’ll start generating the reports, which contains based on some of the configurations, pre-configurations, like the gap between self-rating and others rating and competencies. Everything will start generating a report for each of them. And that report also will not be… You can automatically generate, but generally what we recommend is instead of automatically generating, we will generate it and we will let the manager to approve it. While approving, the managers can add even comments into the report so that any improvement plans, which the manager thinks which will help the subject or employee to improve his career can be added into that report. And then you will get a customized report. This is how typically the work flows.

William:  21:48
I like that because then they take the data, they look at the report, they can editorialize and then they can give that feedback back to the employee. The employee can then get a better sense of where their strengths and opportunities and maybe weaknesses and things that they can learn and what they’re doing well. I mean, not to focus on some of the negative, but kudos and things that people think that they’re just doing super, super well. It’s interesting that you mentioned competencies because I think that there’s a great opportunity to tie competencies and especially things that people need to work on and get better at to training and development, learning and development. And so, I see when we learn that someone needs to be better, let’s just say on-time delivery, just make something random and that’s a feedback. Maybe they self-assessment and then everybody else’s assessed and giving them the same feedback. They need to just get better at on-time delivery.

William:  22:52
Well, there’s learning and development and training and development and all of this great stuff that they can learn to then get better at that. So I can see in the future that this being tied system to system. I can see it being tied into how people do training and how they do learning and development. So, I love that. With the 360 degree feedback, that report that gets passed to the employee, again, managers both approved it, which I love, I think that’s smart and they can editorialize and put comments in it as well, does that go into the… Again, I like that you separated the two, the 360 degree feedback from the actual performance review or performance appraisal timing-wise, but do your clients actually then put the quarterlies all into the performance appraisal so that they have that data that then they can pull from to then give the employee an accurate appraisal of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

Shihab:  24:03
Yes. Obviously, they can take it. One more thing, which we are on top of it, what we are doing is when you do quarterly four times, you can actually even visualize the trend of the person, right? So basically, in Q1, what was your value, Q2, Q3, Q4? Then I would recommend as for somebody who’s continuously moving, you can actually do a good high taker also, right? Because there is a problem that actually he’s continuously improving, right? So, we actually even give the insight as how’s the trajectory of people, how does it moving over the period.

William:  24:36
I like that because that could also be tied into rewards and recognition and compensation. So if someone’s continuing to just get better over time, we want to both notice that, but we also want to then do something with it. So it can be tied to other systems. So, I love that. That’s fantastic. Two questions left before we roll out. One is when you do a demo of SurveySparrow, what do people fall in love with?

Shihab:  25:15

William:  25:16
Yeah. When you show people the software, you crack it open, you do a demo and you show people SurveySparrow and all of the things that can be done. There is that aha moment. What do they fall in love with?

Shihab:  25:31
The best part they love is our end user forms. It is very, very conversational. It is actually a little bit chatty and it’s actually is mobile-first. People love this one question at a time. It feels like, okay, you are chatting, right? So the WhatsApp kind of experience, right? So people are moved into from the old way of filling a boring form to a lot more conversational, chatty kind of things. That’s what people really love and people are engaged in taking it. So nobody wanted to fill up long, boring form, right? So that’s something everyone loves about SurveySparrow.

William:  26:13
I love that. In terms of completion rate, because you’ve made it conversational, you made it fun, it’s mobile-first and mobile-friendly, so I love all of that. If we have 15 people that we want to get feet back from, how do we incentivize them or just make sure that they give that feedback?

Shihab:  26:37
There are two ways. One is obviously this using the tools like SurveySparrow, where this tool itself is a lot more engagement. So I’ll tell you some of the stats, which we identified, right? So basically, typically, a survey completion rate was between 10 to 15 percentage, right? While in a conversational form, we are seeing 40 to 50 percentage. And even we do have a chat form, where it exactly looks like a WhatsApp conversation, right? And that is actually getting for some customers, we are seeing 80 to 90 percentage completion rate, right? That is one way [crosstalk 00:27:10], right?

William:  27:10
Oh, that’s fantastic. Well, that’s just better data, right? The more completions, the better, the rounder the data so that you can actually have a real accurate portrayal of what’s really going on. So, I love that.

Shihab:  27:22
Yes, exactly. Another thing which we can do is sometimes it’s like we do rewards, right? So if it is general reward, general surveys, these particular surveys, you can get rewards, right?

William:  27:39
Oh, that’s cool. Yeah. Yeah. You tied it. What’s nice about that is, again, everyone is incentivized a little bit differently. Some people would just naturally give feedback and you’ve made it really, really easy. But for those that maybe need an incentive, then companies could put a reward in there or Starbucks gift card or something like that. And so, I like all of that.

Shihab:  28:03
Starbucks or Amazon. For example, we do have an integration with this player called Rybbon, right? Rybbon is actually a player who will actually fulfill all these, if at the end, if you complete this, right? So basically, you can enable those kind of things and you can give a Starbucks coupon or Amazon coupon for completing the survey.

William:  28:26
I love that. Well, again, for some folks, that’s going to get them to do it. For others, you’ve got the three types of people. Some people just never do it, no matter what, those just don’t want to, don’t do those. There’s priorities that will come in front of it. There’s people that will just naturally do it with no incentives. They just want to give their feedback. And then there’s that middle ground of those that just need a little bit of an incentive to fill it out. So, I love the integration. Last question before we go out is I want to get a sense of favorite customer story. In no names, I don’t need company names or any of that type stuff, but just your favorite use case of a company that’s used SurveySparrow and just you’re really proud of the way they’ve used it, what they’ve gotten out of it.

Shihab:  29:26
Yeah. On employee side, definitely we have this company, not just one company, if I name is, okay, I have to see at least multiple companies, but on employee side is like, we have Dream11 and few other companies who are using on 360 side and some of them are doing really well. See, we used to think that when we can run once in a year or once in two years, I mean, once in six months kind of thing, but there is this company who’s doing employee 360 every quarterly and meticulously. We are seeing is huge research out of it. That is on employee side is like, okay, one of the use case, which I’m seeing. Another thing is one company is I may not have the permission to say is one of four consulting firm, and that they uses this as more of a chat bot, right? So basically what they did is they actually created a chat bot or program to bot out of SurveySparrow.

Shihab:  30:27
Employees can speak to this bot. And especially when the COVID hit, the pandemic hit, what happened is everybody moved into their remote location. There was this thing which was happening in every other company, right? What was happening is people were disconnected and they were feeling pressured. They were feeling is like sometimes they were going low kind of thing. So, employees can speak into this particular bot kind of thing. If at all is like the bot find outs, right? Because it is a program, if at all the bot finds out if the mental health of this particular employee is actually on a lower level, then it will automatically send in a trigger and alert into the HR team, right? So that sounds like one of the top four consulting firms use, and I, myself, never assumed it can be used to that level, right? That is one thing which was really, really excited me, or somebody is like just showed me how they can use and how they can change it.

William:  31:39
I love it, because again, you’re getting feedback, but at the same time, you’re also, you’re helping the employee. We’ve historically looked at capabilities and strengths and weaknesses and et cetera, but there’s a bunch of stuff that especially because of COVID that we’ve all experienced, wellbeing and wellness and mental health and all kinds of other life events, et cetera. We can get feedback on that, and then again, do something about it. I’ve actually thoroughly enjoyed this, Shihab. I love what you’re doing, and I just appreciate you coming on the Use Case Podcast.

Shihab:  32:21
Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. Have a nice day.

William:  32:25
Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case Podcast. Until next time.

Music:  32:29
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William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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