Customer Spotlight – Knovation


The Customer Spotlight is a new column that we want to introduce to our readers. The primary goal of the Customer Spotlight column is to showcase how customers are using QuestionPro – and in general how they conduct research and collect feedback. The column will in a Q&A interview format.

In this month’s column, we spoke with Catherine Cervantes, Market Research Manager from Knovation.

Hi Catherine – thank you for taking the time to talk to us about Knovation and how you apply research, data collection and feedback.

1. Tell us a little about Knovation and what you guys do?

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Knovation is dedicated to transforming education from a one-way, one-size-fits-all approach to a learner-centered approach that minimizes environmental, emotional, functional and stylistic learning barriers and is customized to the unique needs of every learner. A mission-driven group of academic, technology and business professionals passionate about making a difference in the lives of learners and those that make learning possible, Knovation delivers standards-based, personalized, digital content solutions that empower learners to unlock their curiosity and potential.

The Knovation product portfolio includes icurio, the flagship digital curriculum content solution for personalized learning, netTrekker Search, the company’s legacy educational search product and igotta, the personalized student workspace solution developed in partnership with Zeus Learning. Knovation also provides digital transformation services including consultation, planning and professional learning around the transition from print to digital within a classroom. Founded in 1999, Knovation’s legacy platform, netTrekker Search, is widely recognized as the leading standards-based educational search tool and currently serves millions of students in thousands of K-12 public and private schools across U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The vision of Knovation is to ‘Ignite the hope of knowing by reducing the barriers to learning.’

2. Where are you based out of? 

We are based in Cincinnati, Ohio – specifically, in Sharonville (Northern suburb of Cincinnati).

3. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Knovation.

As the market research manager at Knovation, I lead and manage effective research processes that generate high-quality, actionable data. That involves the analysis of the data for all research efforts, as well as identifying business opportunities for the company that are suggested by the data. It is so empowering and exciting to hear what educators, parents and students nationwide are feeling … their challenges, the profound impact they have on the future of education … and then collaborating internally to translate the research into quality products that help those audiences achieve their goals.

4. Consumer Insight is changing – with Facebook and Twitter. How has this impacted your business and how you collect feedback?

I am a huge fan of social media myself, both for business and personal use. Our organization has a distinct role to manage these channels and the feedback that comes in through them – the Manager of Social & Education-Based Marketing. My colleague in the Marketing department, Dawn Crawford, has embraced this role. Dawn and I work together to promote the market research efforts through all possible channels – including our company and product Facebook pages, Twitter page and our newly renovated online educator community, Know New Ideas. Although our primary form of initial contact for inviting our audiences to participate in research remains a personalized email, we also use our social media outlets as part of the recruiting process. At the end of surveys, we encourage our participants to visit us at our Know New Ideas community to continue the conversation with us on an ongoing basis.

5. Tell us a little bit about the kinds of surveys you run and how you run them.

We conduct surveys primarily with teachers and education administrators in the k-12 space. We’re looking for feedback on our products, how they are being used successfully, as well as the overall challenges these educators are facing on a daily basis.

We typically send an email invitation with a PURL (personalized URL) to the educators. As the completed survey responses start rolling in, I like to monitor the stats with the real-time summary report link and the open-ended text responses link. It’s so convenient to be able to check on the progress of my surveys in real-time, regardless of where I am (in a meeting, in my car at a stoplight, at my desk) or what device I’m using (laptop, phone, tablet). I am grateful for this accessibility. I usually share these real-time links with key individuals in our organization so they can also monitor the progress as they like. After we have all of the survey responses, I export the data and begin the analysis.

6. What do you think the impact of mobile is on research and consumer insights?

With a myriad of device options available to us these days as consumers in the business and personal realms, it seems like we have the opportunity to do anything, anywhere, at any time. Kind of scary, really, but also very empowering. I can wake up in the morning and before I even get out of bed, I can use my phone to check the weather forecast for the day, glance through the early morning emails from those who work all night and don’t sleep, look at any random text messages or Facebook updates from friends and view the progress of the surveys I have in the field. It’s truly amazing!

With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see how respondents are eager and willing to complete surveys on their phones and tablets these days. The optimization of the mobile survey is something that QuestionPro has done well, and I trust that they will continue to grow with the trends that emerge in the mobile arena.

7. What is one feature on QuestionPro that you like the best?

Do I have to name just one? Okay. I have utilized some of the most advanced features in QuestionPro and I am so thankful that they exist and work well … however, my favorite aspect of QuestionPro is its general ease of use and flexibility. From the first survey I created, I realized how easy it is to create a survey from scratch – it’s easy to add questions, determine question types and then customize them. After creating many surveys in QuestionPro, I love having the ability to copy a survey and rename it as whatever I like.

This goes along with the flexibility I enjoy when I use QuestionPro … I have found that I can customize the look and feel of the questions with scales, as well as the header and footer, by entering the appropriate coding (some self-taught and some with a little help from colleagues). Bottom line – I have found QuestionPro very easy to use and intuitive, and it has provided me the flexibility I need to customize my surveys to display the way I like, while keeping in sync with our branding and marketing guidelines.

8. Can you name a QuestionPro employee that you would give kudos to? Can you describe why?

How about a few employees? Everyone I’ve been in contact with at your company has been wonderful!

Hari Pillai was my first point of contact with the company. He set me up very quickly (same day) with my account and has continued to be very responsive and proactive with the emails I send him. He has forwarded the relevant emails internally to support and product folks, who then act on my advice and questions. So gratifying.

Sanket Shekdar seems to be the person who has responded most often to my product enhancement suggestions when contacting QuestionPro via the website. He works diligently to get to the bottom of what I’m seeking and provides options I had not considered or known about to help me effectively resolve my issues. Excellent and fast customer service is so important in any industry, and I truly value this aspect of QuestionPro.

Priyesh Ghamandi was instrumental in finding answers to my questions and helping me perform certain functions in QuestionPro. He answered my requests and Live Chatted with me on 2 separate occasions (2 days in a row) and was very patient and persistent throughout the process.

Vivek Bhaskaran (CEO/Founder) and Erik Koto (President) recently spoke with me for an hour to explore in-depth my thoughts on QuestionPro, how I am using it and my suggestions. That was a very productive call and beneficial for all of us. I am truly honored that these two gentlemen took the time and effort to have that conversation with me. It is gratifying to know that they, as primary representatives of QuestionPro, are dedicated to listening to me as their customer, and furthermore, that they will truly take my suggestions into consideration when prioritizing their upcoming product developments.

9. How do you decide on quantitative or qualitative research? When do you use which model?

I see qualitative research as more exploratory, when we’re looking to investigate ideas we have or gain initial responses to questions. Qualitative research can be done in person, in groups or in-depth interviews, or even through a phone conversation. One of the advantages to conducting in-person research is that you can see the reactions on the respondents’ faces to the moderator’s questions and also to the other respondents’ comments. Body language can be very telling. It’s also nice to be able to adjust the line of questioning on the fly, in reaction to the conversation.

Qualitative research usually leads to, or is blended with, quantitative research. We might use the findings from a focus group or in-depth interview to drive questions we explore with scales in an online quantitative survey. In that same online survey, we usually incorporate qualitative open-ended questions to provide color to the quantitative scale-based responses or to hear how the respondents feel, in their own words. I see quantitative and qualitative research working together in harmony to achieve the results we desire, and that’s how I approach all research projects.

10. What is your favorite book/quote/recipe?

I am an avid reader, and my 2 most recent favorite authors are Suzanne Collins and Elin Hilderbrand. Suzanne Collins is the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, which I finished today on my lunch break. Although this series falls under the category of juvenile or young adult fiction, it’s an intriguing exploration into the depths of humankind and causes us to question what we would do for our loved ones, and I believe it’s a great read for all ages. The 2 books I’ve read recently by Elin Hilderbrand are The Island and Silver Girl. Both novels are set on an island in Nantucket where friends and family gather during good and bad times. When reading these books, I could smell and see the ocean and the air, the beautiful vacation setting. Great beach reads.