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Ventana Research believes that to provide excellent customer experiences it is necessary to understand what customers want and their likely behaviors, and one direct way to achieve this is by collecting and analyzing customer feedback. The challenge for organizations in this regard is that most customers are reluctant to complete surveys unless they are provided at an appropriate time, in an easy-to-use format and through the channel of their choice. Confirmit’s Horizons products support collection and analysis of feedback from marketing campaigns, employees and customers. The core survey engine enables design and authoring of surveys, and add-on modules handle collecting data, panel management (of a panel of customers, employees or market segments to help focus business activities) and analysis and reporting. It was built on the Microsoft .Net platform, but the most recent release, version 16, extends support to other environments and browsers. This release also enhances security, scalability and availability so Confirmit can collect hundreds of millions of surveys for customers around the world. The product is available for deployment on-premises or as software as a service (SaaS).

It’s obvious that today many people communicate through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. To gain this access capability Confirmit acquired Techneos, which specialized in the collection of feedback through mobile channels. Now Confirmit users can design surveys and test their look and feel before they are rendered automatically on different mobile devices. The technology can take advantage of mobile device capabilities such as touch-tone, sliders and push buttons, making the experience very similar to ordinary smart device usage and thus likely to increase completion rates. The capabilities also extend to the management of surveys, so authorized users can receive reports on how surveys are performing and make adjustments as needed. 

Another interesting feature in the latest release is the survey router, which allows organizations to link surveys so that, for example, if a customer begins to complete a marketing survey that is no longer open, based on the profile of the customer, the product routes the customer to another relevant survey. The system automatically retains any data that the customer has entered at the point of transfer and thus avoids the annoyance of asking for the same information again. Used properly, this capability also should help organizations collect more completed surveys.

Confirmit has an extensive ecosystem of partners around the world to support sales and customer support. It also has a number of technical partners. For example, its partnership with Clarabridge provides more extensive reporting and analysis capabilities through the Clarabridge text analytics tools, including the ability to analyze in real time free-form text input from mobile devices.

Customer experience management (CEM) has become used to describe all manner of systems and processes. It seems to me that however you interpret it, the underlying assumption is that organizations should know their customers and what they think of their services and products. Customer feedback management (CFM) is a key tool for acquiring this knowledge which is why we are researching the topic in significant depth. I recommend that you take a look how Confirmit could help your organization gain better insights into your customers.

CEM and CFM are both key components in my research agenda for 2012, so please come and collaborate with me. 

Regards

Richard Snow – VP & Research Director

There is a lot of talk today in customer service circles about the “voice of the customer” (VOC). For some people it means speech analytics (literally the voice of the customer), some others use it as an equivalent to the “360-degree view” of the customer, and for others it is about customer feedback. At Ventana Research we take a broader view and define VOC as reports and analysis that include as much customer information as possible. It should draw data from all available customer sources and use various forms of analytics to extract, report and analyze it as fully as possible. I am also an avid supporter of customer experience management (CEM) and urge companies to focus on the experiences customers receive at every touch point. This is where I see VOC and customer feedback come together.

I often write that companies can’t ignore the desires of customers to communicate through many channels. I don’t see this as just a nice option: Companies that don’t support all the “modern” channels of communication will surely lose customers. As well, those that do support them have to provide consistent information and responses across all channels or also risk driving people away. The most direct way to find out if you are getting it right is to ask your customers. But even this is fraught with difficulties: Ask the wrong questions and you get the wrong answers; take too long to ask and customer will have lost interest (and will probably be annoyed you ask); use the wrong channels to ask and many customers will ignore you; and the list goes on. What companies need is a customer feedback system that helps them design and develop questionnaires, delivers them through the channel of each customer’s choice, if possible delivers them as soon as the interaction completes, and collects and analyzes the results.

Sadly my research into the use of technology in contact centers shows that only about one-quarter (23%) of companies have realized the benefits of customer feedback and only the most innovative have implemented a system to collect feedback through the channel of the customer’s choice. Research participants gave many reasons for not seizing this opportunity, among them a lack of tools available to collect feedback from all channels, to analyze feedback across channels or to identify root causes of customer issues. To help fill this knowledge gap I undertook research to create the Ventana Research Value Index for CEM – Customer Feedback Management. The methodology used to produce this Value Index evaluates in detail aspects of product functionality and suitability-to-task as well as the effectiveness of vendor support. The Index reflects the value offered by a vendor and its products, presented in clear and accessible graphic representations.

At a time when it is more important than ever – and more difficult – to retain customers and maximize the business value obtained from every interaction, it is vital for companies to know how their customers feel after those interactions. To understand in more detail how organizations are collecting and analyzing customer feedback, I have started a new benchmark research project on the topic. Please help us by completing our survey and collaborate with me.

Regards,

Richard Snow – VP & Research Director

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