It seems almost impossible to avoid them these days – they’re everywhere.

I’m talking about requests for your opinion. Sometimes it feels like a bombardment on your inbox.Getting into Top Forms

Online surveys.

Opinion polls.

Feedback on a product or service.

Not to mention quizzes about your life, work and the universe.

It’s no surprise to see retailers and other businesses using these methods to gather data on their customers. They want to understand their audience better, improve their products and services, and gain insights and ideas for the future.

But surveys, polls and quizzes are increasingly being used by people in their personal lives as well.

This trend has been picked up by Microsoft.

The tech giant has responded by opening up Microsoft Forms to everyone on 365 – not just business or education users.

I have to say I love using the application. Using it so much meant I was able to ditch my paid SurveyMonkey plan and save hundreds of pounds a year in subscription fees.

Microsoft Forms is great for surveys and polls.

People who invest in any training from my range online courses
will see it in action for themselves. At the end of each course is a section for them to provide feedback. That’s all done through Forms.

Like any software, it has its little foibles – but it is easy to use and very versatile.

Microsoft Forms has templates, design suggestions and recommended themes included to make putting things together quick and simple. You can customise each form for whatever you want.

Getting into Top FormsBusinesses understand the value of surveys, polls and quizzes. And now people can use Microsoft Forms for any aspects of their personal life.

It can help you plan a holiday gathering with family (for when that’s possible), send out birthday party invitations, pick your next book club read, organise your sports team’s next T-shirt order, or host a virtual trivia night with friends in different locations.

You could use it to support online learning. Create fun and interactive quizzes (which could include showing video clips), engage with students or gather information to organise a school or college fundraiser.

It’s flexible and global.

Forms can be shared with a link or via a QR code – so they can be used by anyone you want, anywhere in the world. There are analytics available and you can export your results into Excel for deeper analysis.

Microsoft’s research on the trend matches my own observations. It even led me to change priorities in the creation and development of my online training.

There I was, all convinced and ready that a new course on Excel was what people wanted. But when I carried out a survey with VA’s and other admin professionals in some online communities, the message was loud and clear.

Based on a good-sized poll, what most VA’s wanted was training in How to Create Fillable Forms in Word.

You can guess what happened next.

I did what any smart entrepreneur, trainer and business owner would do.

I put the Excel course on hold and created one for using Microsoft Word to produce fillable forms.

What VA’s were finding was that they were being asked, more and more, to do certain types of task: compile checklists, create booking forms, gather contact details and write letters (which have different elements to choose from, depending on who they are sent to).

They wanted to know how they could do all this, whether on a PC or Mac. I put that in the training, all covered in the one course for either operating system.

When I think about it, I used Forms to discover what VA’s needed… and it revealed a demand for training involving Forms. How funny is that?

The feedback from VA’s gave me the insight I otherwise wouldn’t have had. Now I have a new product and a fresh addition to my income stream.

And, yes. You’re right.

There’s no reason why you can’t use surveys, polls and quizzes to help understand your clients and audience better.

Being asked for your opinion is an opportunity to have your say and help people and companies shape future products, services and support.

Forms help to inform.

Next time you see one on a web page, post or in your inbox don’t instantly dismiss it.

If it’s from a brand you love, even more reason to take part in the conversation. Quite often there’s an incentive to help sway you – an offer, a discount code, free gift or competition draw prize.

How’s your form with Forms?

Shelley Fishel