Socrates : Our trade-off survey toolset

An introduction and example screens

Trade-off surveys
• Trade-off surveys differ from standard surveys in that they ask participants to choose between various product features rather than grade individual features. • They can offer a more complete picture of what is truly important to a consumer or employee. • They are also the best way to measure factors like price sensitivity • There are various types of trade-off surveys:
– Discrete choice
• • • • Participants are presented with attributes choices packaged together and choose their preference or none of the above. Participants are presented with all the attribute choices and asked to rate them and assign importance Attributes are grouped in to packages and then ranked or rated There are variants of conjoint (e.g. pairwise, partial, full profile) that either limit the number of choices in each package, or limit the combination of attributes that are permitted.

– Non-packaged – Conjoint

• However, trade-off surveys are often perceived as complex to perform and this could explain why they are less commonly used.

What is Socrates?
• Socrates is a survey toolset that allows rich-featured trade-off surveys to be created, managed, delivered and completed over the internet. • Socrates was created with two central principles¹:
– Pragmatism
• We have implemented the features that we believe will bring the greatest benefit soonest

– Ease of use
• Our intention was to create a toolset that will remove barriers to constructing and participating in trade-off surveys.

• Socrates is available to be used without installation and on a fixed-cost or a pay-as-you-use basis.

¹ more on how these principles have informed our design below

Functional view (simplified)
DEFINTION • The design, and creation of a survey. • This will be undertaken by skilled marketing / customer insight strategists COLLECTION • This is an end-user performing the survey and entering their choices • Collection can be remote or guided by the analyst ANALYSIS • Real-time monitoring of the survey’s progress • Analysis of the final results and rankings REPORTING • Presentation of the results of the analysis to the customer • These can be delivered online or through traditional means (e,g. Slideshows etc)

The diagram above outlines the four key areas in an online survey toolset and breaks them down in to smaller functional components. Not all components are shown, and this diagram is oriented towards trade-off surveys rather than all surveys in general.

Socrates 2.1 – Functional view

The orange-bordered boxes highlight the features Socrates 2.1 implement. Those with a grey border are on our planned product roadmap. Those shaded in grey are features we plan either not to implement, or integrate other solutions.

We have implemented the functions that will make the biggest difference to the marketing strategist and customer We have left the specialist analytical components to existing tools, preferring to allow data to be imported and exported integrate in an open way We have focused on areas that we can apply our skills in usability and implementation to create a better toolset.

Socrates – Design Principles
• We focus on the functions that allow tradeoff surveys to be created, managed, and performed. There are many software solutions already ideally suited to perform the more complex features, especially around statistical analysis We enabled our solution to easily integrate with these rather than replicate features they do better. We wanted to remove the cost of installation from our product and also get great performance and widest access, so we chose to implement on the internet. We also wanted our solution to be secure and scalable so we chose Google’s hosting platform rather than attempt to implement ourselves.

We believe that marketing strategy departments will have specialists capable of designing meaningful trade-off surveys Our goal was to ensure these specialists had clear and intuitive tools to design and manage the surveys. Socrates guides both the designer and participant through simple steps enhancing their confidence in the tool and the process. Our experience in Usability and online customer feedback shows that end-users will abandon surveys they feel are difficult to use We have spent time usability and accessibility testing our applications with real users in order to remove barriers to participation.

Our experience with online surveys
• Major multinational telecommunications corporation
– We provide hosted online customer satisfaction surveys for one of the best known names in mobile technology – This year we’ve run 12 surveys in 8 countries with over 60,000 invitees

360-degree survey for large investment Bank
– We’ve previously created a 360-degree survey tool for a large Investment Bank – We hosted the survey which was a major factor in the yearly compensation round for over 15,000 employees

• •

Online survey tools for direct marketing organisation
– We created a custom survey tool that enabled a Direct Marketing organisation to better connect with their customers.

Architecture and design advice to market research company
– We provided software architecture and design advice to a market research company seeking to create a new survey product suite. – Our recommendations ensured their system could perform and scale to support their existing and future business needs and also provided performance improvements of several orders of magnitude.

The Socrates survey process
A walkthrough with screenshots

Terminology used in Socrates
Before the walkthrough this is the terminology we use • Designer
– A marketing strategist who devises the survey An end-user (usually a customer or employee) who performs the survey A feature of a product or service (e.g. Price, Free minutes, Basic salary, Holidays) A group of attributes collected together, each with a value assigned (e.g. Price=£39.99; Free minutes=300) A set of packages presented to the participant for ranking or rating Where packages are selected in order Where packages are given a score either out of a fixed amount (e.g. Score out of 10) or where a certain number of points is shared between the packages.

• • •

– – –

Attribute Package

• • •

Iteration (Page)
– – –

Ranking Rating

The survey process – Designer perspective

Designer: Creating a new survey
• The designer creates a new survey from the dashboard They then can enter the basic details for the survey
– – – Its name A description The text of the email that will be sent to the participant when inviting them The welcome text that will greet the participant when they follow the link to their survey page ...

Once finished the survey is stored and ready to add attributes

Designer: Defining attributes
• • Attributes are the basis of any survey Here the designer is able to add, view, and edit the attributes in place The screen opposite shows three existing attributes and the ability to add more Attributes have a name, description, and optionally units (e.g. GBP, minutes, etc)

Designer: Defining packages
• Once the set of attributes is created the Designer can group them together in to packages The attributes are made in to columns and the designer sets values for them in the particular package. Most importantly the designer is able to see and change the values that she/he has added making it easy to ensure the right package combinations are there.

Designer: Defining pages
• Once the packages have been created, they can be grouped together in to “pages” These are iterations in the surveys where the participant will be presented with a number of packages to choose between. The upper table shows the pages already defined and the packages therein Highlighted items show what has just been changed The lower portion allows the designer to drag and drop packages in to the workspace (grey) to create a new page or edit another

• •

Designer: Launching surveys
• Once the survey has been defined, and participants added it is ready to be launched Surveys are launched via the dashboard – along with any other actions that can be performed (close, archive, create new, delete) The dashboard has a summary of alerts relevant to the designer as well as realtime monitoring of survey takeup. Once a survey is launched, Socrates will email the participants and provide them with a unique link to their personalised survey pages

The survey process – Participant perspective

Participant: Welcome
• The participant will have a unique URL to their survey page in their personalised email. When they follow this URL they will see a welcome page. This can contain a personalised greeting (if set up by the designer) and instructions on how to complete. The participant presses “Start” to begin the survey.

Participant: Ranking packages
• Each of the pages in the survey correspond to a page set up by the designer In the example the participant is on the first (of three) pages. This is indicated by the highlighted progress bar The participant drags and drops the package boxes in order to rank them The attributes and their values are shown in each box

• •

Participant: Rating packages
• This example shows an alternative where the designer has asked the participant to rate the packages This rating is from a total allocation of 20 points The participant has allocated 8 points to Package A and 2 to Package B The boxes at the foot of the screen clearly show how many more points there are to allocate.

Technical Overview: A cloud-based solution hosted on Google’s infrastructure

No installation needed
– Application is ready to use Survey data is protected per client Can grow to the needs of the survey. From 1 participant to 1000s Cloud-based and charged on usage


Highly scalable

Pay for what you use

Accessible through multiple devices
– – Browser Smartphone Google’s infrastructure means good performance worldwide


Find out more • Read about zico our standard online survey tool

• Latest news about Socrates on its product page

• Contact us about using Socrates
– Sid Haniff,, 07968 277 116 – Mark Thomsit,, 07801 480 820

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