Getting good feedback is important to any organization. Whether it’s from a customer, client, visitor or some other *user * (I hate that word), qualitative feedback gives you something that quantitative data simply cannot: direct voice.

So when my director recently asked me to think through a way for our company to collect feedback from people who call our office, I knew it would be a useful resource that could potentially transform the corporate culture for the better. The basic request was a simple way for us to collect caller responses and use them to learn how we can provide better customer service.

Oh, and it needs to be practically free of charge.

I’m going to quickly walk through how I was able to make this happen using a couple simple, but esoteric features that can be found in Wufoo. I realize that other survey companies offer a few of the features I’m about to describe, but this will be helpful for others who find themselves in a situation that requires some good ol-fashioned bootstrapping.

Creating a form in Wufoo is ridiculously simple (and kind of fun), so I’m not even going to go there. What I am going to cover is how to create collector methods when they supposedly do not exist in Wufoo.

A collector method is a filter in your survey that essentially says, “Hey, these two people filled out the same survey, but they came from two different places. Do you want me to separate their responses for you?” In other words, you can create custom links and use them to compare how different groups of people respond to the questions. Having a collector method would have been very helpful for me because we have 70 different customer service reps and we want to be able to filter our responses by each rep without asking the customer to remember the rep’s name and department.

Confused yet? I was and thought this project was doomed. For someĀ asinineĀ reason, Survey Monkey (Wufoo’s parent company) offers collector methods but has not made them available in Wufoo. So, let’s hack away.

Step 1: Create the form

As I’ve already mentioned, this post is more concerned with the hack than how to create a form in Wufoo. If you need some help opening a new form, read the docs. Otherwise, go ahead and crack open a fresh form and let’s move on!

Step 2: Hidden Fields

Wufoo allows for some basic CSS rules to customize the form to fit your needs. But, rather than being actual CSS rules, these are basic keywords that, if used right, can inject some wizardry into your form.

For the purposes of my project, it was important that I was able to collect the name of the customer service rep and department without the survey respondent having to fill it in herself. Thankfully, “hide” is one of Wufoo’s CSS keywords and it does exactly what you’d think it would do: it hides the field from display. Enter it in for as many fields as needed.

Wait. Why would we need to create fields that no one is ever going to see? That’s coming up a little later.

Step 3: Embed the survey

Wufoo has made their surveys very portable, allowing you to add them on any webpage with a simple JavaScript snippet. Just click on the “Code” link below the form title from your account dashboard and navigate to the “Embed Form Code” section.

Be sure to use the Javascript code because it will help us do some fancy dancing with those hidden fields we created in Step 2.

Step 4: Populate the hidden fields

Aha! Finally, here’s where the magic finally takes place. Wufoo assigns an ID number for every field you create on your form, including the hidden ones. It also allows you to pre-fill these fields by adding a line of Javascript to your embed code.

For example, I created a hidden field for the customer service rep’s name. By pre-filling the field, the respondent is essentially answering the question for me without ever knowing she answered it. Thus, I am collecting data that will allow me to sort my reports by the name of the representative identified in the hidden field.

Not sure where to find the ID number of your fields? Go to the same “Code” screen you did to grab your embed code, then click on the “API Information” button in the top right corner of the screen. Tricky, tricky.

Step 5: Rinse, wash and repeat

The only downfall to this solution is that it requires a new embed for every hidden field option you need to filter your responses. For example, I have one survey but have embedded it on 70 different webpages on my site. It’s cumbersome, but does work and allows me to have a unique URL for each customer service rep.

In conclusion

What we’re left with is the poor boy’s version of a customer service survey that allows you to not only collect feedback, but filter the data by the representative’s name (or any other variable) without having to add extra questions for the respondent.

Is it perfect? No. But for those who work for non-profits or cheap companies who or either unable or unwilling to invest in a more sophisticated system, this definitely does the trick. Try it out and wow your boss with awesome MacGyver-like skills.

JavaScript

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