A few months ago, there was some interesting debate between two industry analysts, Bruce Temkin and Esteban Kolsky, whether Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) was dead.
And even before this, Leslie Ament from Hypatia Research echoed a similar opinion.
Charles Darwin was probably rolling in his grave.
EFM, dead? Hardly.
The aforementioned “discussion” centered around whether a new term (Voice of the Customer (VOC), Customer Intimacy and Action (CIA) or Customer Enterprise Management (CEM), among others) was needed to accurately describe how organizations use customer feedback.
It’s really all just alphabet soup. But, it’s filled with so many tasty morsels of customer insight that no matter what you call it…it’s alive and a very popular menu item inside of more and more public sector and commercial organizations.
Darwin would say that EFM really separates the strong from the weak.
It’s natural selection in the purest form – those organizations that continually gather feedback from customers and use it to make better decisions will be the strong that survive.
What is EFM?
According to Forrester Research (which just released its first “Wave™: EFM Vendors, Market Insights Platform Providers, Q3 2011,” and in which IBM SPSS was ranked as the overall leader), EFM is defined as:
“A system of software and processes that enables organizations to centrally collect, analyze, and report on feedback from key customer groups and tailor insights for various internal users.”
Maybe a little too clinical.
But, don’t confuse EFM with an occasional survey. It’s far from that.
EFM, rather, is the ongoing collection of feedback during many types of customer interactions – such as through call centers, websites and face-to-face communications – and across many modes and languages.
And, let's not forget what you can gather from social media sources, the veritable focus group in the cloud.
With EFM, organizations can gain a more accurate, complete understanding of customer opinions, preferences, motivations and intentions.
These insights are then combined with transactional and demographic information and shared throughout the enterprise to drive appropriate actions, such as reducing churn, improving cross-/up-sell campaigns, or enhancing customer service.
EFM is really a fancy way of saying, “How well do you know your customers, students, constituents and/or citizens, and more importantly, what are you going to do about it?”
EFM (or any of the other acronyms) is really a means to an end.
Customer Intimacy is the New Intellectual Property
Today’s end game is really customer intimacy. The better an organization is at anticipating a customer’s next move, the more successful it will be.
In a way, Temkin, Kolsky and Ament are all right (they’re analysts; they just get paid to have varying opinions). It comes down to action.
Collecting data like baseball cards or stamps or coins is one thing, but failing to push it into operational systems to optimize decisions is a waste of time and money.
Whether or not you think the term EFM may have lost some of its luster, the process it represents continues to build momentum, especially for organizations that are including feedback in all available forms and using business analytics to derive the most value from it.
Heck, maybe we just call it Decision Management. I’m sure that would make analyst James Taylor happy.
Either way, it’s all about collecting attitudinal data (the secret sauce), analyzing it and deploying the results of that analysis to establish a productive dialogue between an organization and the customer, and using what is learned to maximize each interaction.
Therefore, the evolving EFM solution will become more pervasive and included as part of a broader Customer Intimacy approach and provide a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.
And that's not going to change anytime soon, especially as a customer’s views evolve daily, sometimes hourly, depending how they (or their “friends”) are treated or influenced by their favorite brands.
Customers have higher expectations — and more options to choose from. It’s time to start listening and responding before the product, service or even the organization becomes extinct.
Those with the strongest “EFM” systems will then survive.
The others will join the annual Darwin Award Winners.
For more information:
· Learn more about EFM, VOC, CIA, CEM and IBM’s entire portfolio of Business Analytics solutions at the upcoming IBM Business Analytics Forum in Las Vegas (Oct. 23-27).
· Download the recent Hypatia Research report, “Operationalizing Voice of the Customer: How Top Performers Create Actionable Insight.” (IBM SPSS also was the overall leader in Hypatia’s “Voice of the Customer Galaxy” rankings.)
· Read the whitepaper, “The Customer Intimacy Imperative,” and understand how business analytics tools deliver a new depth of customer insight.