Updated July 3 at 9:03pm

Mining data to clients’ advantage

The inspiration behind Survey Advantage, a growing survey and market-research company in Jamestown, was born out of crisis – thousands of surge protectors catching on fire 18 years ago.#

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Mining data to clients’ advantage

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The inspiration behind Survey Advantage, a growing survey and market-research company in Jamestown, was born out of crisis – thousands of surge protectors catching on fire 18 years ago.

At the time, Survey Advantage President and founder Michael Casey was running the help call center at American Power Conversion in South Kingstown when some of the electrical manufacturer’s surge protectors began to fail, triggering a major recall.

“We were selling product left and right, but woke up one morning with a quality problem and then a stock problem,” Casey said. “I was managing the call center at the time and we did not have a good system. Hundreds of people were making calls and management didn’t know what to do. We became believers in developing a better real-time system.”

After the experience, APC developed an electronic survey system to monitor product quality and began sorting and tracking call data so that, when future problems arose, the company would know about them before they reached the crisis point.

“We got to where we could track things before they got out of control,” Casey said.

Long after Casey left APC to start his own company, the lessons learned during those anxious days of the 1993 recall are at the heart of what Survey Advantage provides to clients.

Founded in 2000, Survey Advantage provides tailored feedback, market research and data for businesses ranging from marinas, to manufacturers, printers and property managers.

In the case of property management, the sector Casey sees the greatest growth potential in now, Survey Advantage plugs directly into clients’ computer systems. Whenever a tenant moves out or makes a service call they are surveyed about their experience.

The surveys, which take about a minute to complete, are usually done by e-mail and never by telephone, which Casey said those being surveyed find “annoying.”

If there is a serious complaint or a negative review, a notice goes out to the property manager immediately. The rest of the data is used to provide a detailed analytical picture of where the property manager stands in relation to his tenants.

“Right now in property management, there’s a lot of winging it going on with many getting little to no feedback,” Casey said. “When you look at statistics that show for each tenant that does not renew, it costs an average of $4,000 for the landlord in lost revenue, that’s a lot of money if you found out that it was something that, if you had known, you could have fixed.”

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