“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”

John Kleeman HeadshotPosted by John Kleeman

A recent corporate survey reported in Insurance Journal suggests that reputation is the hardest risk to manage. The survey indicates that 81% of companies see reputation as their most significant asset but are challenged in knowing how to protect it.

Warren Buffett famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”. So how can organization’s avoid those fateful five minutes?

Assessments can be a great tool to mitigate risk to reputation. I’d like to share some ideas on this from my Questionmark colleagues, Eric Shepherd and Brian McNamara.

Let’s start by considering the classic business model shown in the diagram below. A company uses its core capabilities in Production with a supplier network and product/services development to make an Offer to its customers, which it communicates via a sales and marketing Channel, with a supporting Finance structure.

Classic business model. Production, Offer, Channel, Finance

The pink shaded areas in the diagram are where there is reputation risk.

If you make mistakes within Production – in regulatory compliance, processes & procedures or health & safety – this can seriously hurt your reputation. Errors in regulatory compliance or failing to follow processes & procedures can similarly damage reputation in Finance. Assessments can help by confirming health and safety, checking the competence of employees and testing knowledge of processes & procedures.

Many companies have a bigger challenge in the sales and marketing Channel, as this is more spread out and harder to control. You have to comply with laws on how you sell, both industry-specific and general ones like anti-corruption. The people in your Channel must have product/solution knowledge. And reputation is hurt by overselling and unsatisfied customers.

The diagram below breaks down the Channel into typical parts:

breaking down Channel into Market Messaging and Relationship Management

How can assessments help with reputation challenges in the Channel?

Market Messaging

When you message your customers, there is a risk that your messaging is inappropriate or that messages do not resonate. Most organizations assess customers with surveys to determine if they are “getting it”.

Sales

You need your sales people, whether in-house personnel or partners, to comply with laws and avoid corruption. They need to ensure your customers are satisfied, by selling fairly and not using trickery. Online quizzes and tests are great ways to check your sales people know all the rules and are competent to sell. Observational assessments using tablets or smartphones also let supervisors check team members.

Customer Care

In customer care, a challenge is high staff turnover, requiring lots of training. As in sales, the customer care team need product and process knowledge and need to satisfy customers. Quizzes and tests motivate learning, maintain focus and enable recognition of people who “get it”.

Technical Support

Lastly, every company has challenges when products or services don’t work. How you deal with problems impacts your reputation. The challenge for technical support is to delight the customer and fix problems on first call.

Quizzes and tests are useful in technical support, but something that works really well for technical teams is a certification program. Skills and knowledge required are often complex, and using assessments to certify gives technical support teams career progression. It also encourages pride in their jobs, leading to better employee retention and better service.

 

I hope this article helps you realize that online assessments help solve one of the biggest challenges facing business – mitigating risk to reputation. Next time you are making an internal case for online assessments, consider whether your senior management might find reducing reputation risk a compelling reason to deploy assessments.

Going BYOD? “Responsive Design” will help you get there

Brian McNamara HeadshotPosted by Brian McNamara

We’veResponsive Design talked about “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) in this blog recently – and about how many organizations within corporate learning and higher education are either starting to embrace the idea, or – at the very least – start planning for how they can be ready for it in the future.

In fact, one of my recent blog articles focused on a few practical tips on how to optimize your online assessments for the broadest range of devices and browsers possible.

But today we’re going to take a look at how “responsive design” technology built into the latest release of Questionmark OnDemand will make the jump to supporting BYOD delivery of online assessments much, much easier.

Check out the video below for a look at how you can author a Questionmark assessment once, and then deliver it at a broad range of screen resolutions and to many different types of devices – from laptops to tablets to smartphones.

We have plenty of resources available to you. “How-to” videos and brief presentations about best practices, will give you valuable pointers about authoring, delivery and integration in our Learning Cafe. We also share presentations and videos on our SlideShare page.

Mark it up: Highlight text and strike through distractors in your online assessments

Brian McNamara HeadshotPosted by Brian McNamara

Remember what it was like to take a test or exam on paper? One of the benefits was that participants typically had the option of making marks on a test paper or test booklet to help them focus on certain key passages or terms – or perhaps to cross out certain choices as they worked on finding a correct answer.highlight-and-strikethrough-for-blog

As a test author or administrator, you might want to – or indeed be required to – provide this kind of flexibility during an exam.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice this flexibility when delivering your assessments online. New functionality being introduced to Questionmark OnDemand users enables them to configure their assessments to allow participants to:

  1. Highlight terms or passages within a question stimulus
  2. Make strike-through marks to visually eliminate distractors.

Highlight and strike-through is a great way to empower participants to create visual cues within items to help them focus on key content and eliminate distractors as they work to answer a given question.

Want to see it in action? Check out the video below!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQKLuxCrggk?rel=0]

We have plenty of resources available to you. “How-to” videos and brief presentations about best practices, will give you valuable pointers about authoring, delivery and integration in our Learning Cafe. We also share presentations and videos on our SlideShare page.

Getting the results you need from surveys

Brian McNamara HeadshotPosted by Brian McNamara

bsmlA survey is only as good as the results you get from it. That’s why it’s important to carefully consider and plan for survey forms that will yield accurate, valid data that can be analyzed to yield the answers that you and your stakeholders are seeking.

This article looks at a few general tips on identifying the information you want to capture, writing survey questions, structuring surveys and planning ahead for how you or your stakeholders will want to analyze data.

1. Provide a brief introduction to the survey that lets the respondents know the:

  • Purpose of the survey – why do you want the respondents’ opinions?
  • Length of the survey (Number of questions? How long will it take to complete?)
  • Closing date for survey responses

Tip: It also makes sense to include this information in the initial invitation to help set expectations and boost response rates.

2. Keep the survey short and sweet (only ask the minimum number of questions required)… the longer the survey, the more likely that respondents will  abandon it or refuse to participate.

3. Avoid ambiguity in how your questions are worded; be as direct as possible.

4. Within the survey form, let respondents know how much longer they have to finish the assessment – built-in progress bars (available in most of  Questionmark’s standard question-by-question assessment templates) can help here. For example:

bsmal3

5. Consider the flow of the assessment. Ideally your survey should group similar types of questions together. For example, in a course evaluation survey,  you might ask two or three questions about the course content, then questions about the venue, and then questions about an instructor.

6. Avoid the potential for confusing respondents by keeping your Likert scale questions consistent where possible. For example, don’t follow a question  that uses a positive-to-negative scale (e.g. “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree”) with a question that uses a negative-to-positive scale (e.g. “Very Dissatisfied” to “Very Satisfied”).

7. Make it easy for respondents to answer surveys via a wide variety of devices and browsers. Check out previous blog articles on this topic: Tips for making your assessments BYOD-friendly.

8. Consider what respondent demographics and other information you may wish use for filtering and/or comparing your survey results. For example, in a typical course evaluation, you might be looking to capture information such as:

  • Course name
  • Instructor name
  • Location/Venue
  • Date (or range of dates)

Questionmark provides different options for capturing demographic data into “special fields” that can be used in in Questionmark’s built-in survey and course evaluation reports for filtering and comparison. Likewise, this demographic data can be exported along with the survey results to ASCII or Microsoft Excel format if you prefer to use third-party tools for additional analysis.

9. Consider how you wish to capture demographic information.

  • Easiest way: you can ask a question! In Questionmark assessments, you can designate certain questions as “demographic questions” so their results are saved to “special fields” used in the reporting process.Typically you would use a multiple choice and/or drop-down question type to ask for such information. For example, if you were surveying a group of respondents who attended a “Photoshop Basics” course in three different cities, you might ask the following to capture this data:bsml 2
  •  Embedding demographic data within assessment URLs: In some cases, you might already have certain types of demographic information on hand. For example, if you are emailing an invitation only to London respondents of the “Photoshop Basics” course, then you can embed this information as a parameter of a Questionmark assessment URL – it will be one less question you’ll need to ask your respondents, and a sure-fire way you’ll capture accurate location demographics with the survey results!

If you are looking for an easy way to rapidly create surveys and course evaluations, check out Questionmark Live – click here. And for more information about Questionmark’s survey and course  evaluation reporting tools, click here.

Video: How to create hotspot questions for quizzes and tests

Brian McNamara HeadshotPosted by Brian McNamara

In the past couple of months we’ve been excited to share new assessment authoring features that you can use in Questionmark Live.

We have most recently discussed the built-in math formula editor and a LaTeX formula editor.

Today, I have put together a video on how you can easily and seamlessly author a hotspot question in Questionmark Live. In this demonstration, I create a basic anatomy hotspot question and upload an image where a participant will mark their answer. This is a simple-to-use but very exciting tool that allows you to accurately define your hotspot region.

Check out the video below or in our Learning Cafe:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_RpEb80_wg]

This capability and many others will be demonstrated the Questionmark Users Conference in Baltimore next week Register online by Friday!

4 Tips for making your assessments BYOD-Friendly

Posted by Brian McNamara

Many organizations have begun to embrace the concept of “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device), so we thought it would be useful to share a few tips on how to optimize your online assessments for the broadest range of devices and browsers possible.

Mobile devices are increasingly being used for delivering online surveys and quizzes. We’re also seeing more customers using mobile devices for observational assessment, and exploring the potential of tablets for “mobile test centers.”

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re planning to deliver to smartphones or tablets:

1. Think small. Fortunately, Questionmark’s auto-sensing, auto-sizing interface makes it easy to accommodate a broad range of devices. However, you still should consider the word-count of your items and types of content you wish to deliver. For example, large images that are crucial to a question’s stimulus and/or choices could put users of small-screen devices at a disadvantage. Likewise, they may also take longer to load if the mobile device has a less-than-optimal data-connection signal.

2. Provide QR Codes to make it easy to access quizzes and surveys via mobile devices. A QR Code can contain a URL that makes it quick and easy to launch an assessment, improve survey response rates, and enable capturing of demographic data. See the blog article for more info: “Using QR Codes – Start to Finish

3. Be cautious using Flash, or avoid it altogether, as many devices (particular iOS devices such as the iPhone) do not provide native support for it.

4. Test it out! Try your assessments on as many different devices as practical. There are many “emulators” that you can use on PCs to help understand how content will appear on the ‘small screen’ — but be cautious as they don’t always give a true “user experience.”

If you’d like to learn more, sign up for one of our web seminars on mobile assessment delivery!