How Smart Companies are Using Online Forms

It may be hard to tell at times, but I can guarantee you (because OSE work with companies on a day-to-day basis in the forms development space) that in today’s digital-driven market, smart companies don’t just collect your online form submission data for manual processing; they have carefully curated workflows applied to each form submission designed to minimise resource usage, maximise output, and allow for future re-purposing of your form submission data.

Gone are the days when ‘stand-alone forms’ that simply send your form submissions to an inbox are considered cutting-edge. There’s a plethora of new ways to do business that are much more effective now.

In this article we’ll walk you through some of the ways smart companies are using online forms to transform the way they do business to provide their customers with a better service and save their organisations big dollars by reducing manual handling.

Re-purposing form submission data

It may seem like such a simple concept, but it’s amazing how many companies fail to do it. Re-purposing form submission data is an easy way to re-align yourself with your customers’ needs again in the future, and potentially make a sale.

If your online smart forms ask just a few extra questions such as ‘How did you hear about us?’, ‘What service are you interested in?’, or ‘Please provide your address’; with the right permission model for future use of data applied to your form submissions you can segment your data into highly targeted user groups.

As an example, on ‘our Contact page’ we ask all our respondents to tell us what they’re interested in? This simple question allows us to build a user database of product specific interest groups we can market to down the track. So if you haven’t considered re-purposing your form submission data for email marketing or other internal uses, now is the time to start!

Business Intelligence (BI) tools are vital

If you’re receiving large volumes of form submissions using form management tools such as Avoka, Business Intelligence (BI) and data visualisation overlay services such as Spotfire BI can be incredibly useful in assisting you to optimise your internal processes and manage stale workflows.

Our team has worked with a number of major Australian organisations in this space and the results have been profound. Not only have we seen substantial reductions in manual handling of form submission data across the board, but the overall understanding of enquiries made to organisations has in many cases for the first-time allowed for a level of visual reporting not previously possible resulting in the identification of workflow stoppages saving millions in lost time and efficiencies.

Without a doubt, if you’re processing large volumes of form submissions, a data visualisation layer is something your competitors are more than likely using to run rings around you, and is something you should definitely consider if you haven’t already!

Workflow analysis prior to form implementations

If you’ve been in or around the IT game, you’ve probably heard of the term ‘set and forget’. This term was originally used to describe reliable and easy to implement hardware solutions which when setup required limited maintenance. However, these days this term has crept into the software development space with deeply negative results.

For example, if you build a ‘Contact’ form with little regards as to whether the processes behind your form are working for you and your organisation, leave it on your site for it’s lifetime, I can with 100% certainty guarantee that you’re missing out on opportunities to use your data more effectively.

Organisations who are leaders in the forms design and development space do not take this route. They’ll often hire an agency such as OSE to undertake a thorough, documented period of business analysis alongside their internal teams and stakeholders to ensure they’re producing a form with as little manual handling as possible, and are using the data they receive in the most effective manner. The reason they do this is because this process saves them literally hundreds of man hours and thousands of dollars’ worth of ongoing effort to support inefficient forms.

With this in mind, workflow analysis can be as simple or as complex as you like, and can also be an evolving process you add to when the many dimensions and connectivity of your forms grow. If you haven’t undertaken a period of workflow analysis prior to implementing an online smart form, we recommend this as priority #1 next time you're looking to deliver an online smart form.

Connecting multiple systems via API’s

One of the most common ways smart companies are using online forms to optimise their daily activities is by sharing form-submission data between their various systems. This is usually done with what’s called an Application Programming Interface (API).

What this allows companies to do is share all or part of a form submission with another system without having to manually enter that data into the secondary system. An example of this may be automatically submitting your ‘Contact’ page data to Salesforce, or a payment to SAP so you don’t have to enter that data in twice.

Combine the use of API’s with a clever workflows designed to alert key stakeholders within your organisation that a form submission has been made and requires action, and you’ve removed a major ongoing component of communication (i.e. work) that may have existed within your organisation by using technology the way it is supposed to be used.

Conclusion

Whether you receive thousands of form submissions per month or just a handful, chances are you can improve the way you utilise online form submission data.

By focussing on boosting the intelligence you have regarding your internal processes and customer behaviour, you can make great strides as a company from some very small changes to your online forms.

If you think you can benefit from enhancing the way you use online smart forms within your organisation, get in touch with our team of form design experts at OSE today!