Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Is Dead

Yes, the title is a bit extreme — but I wanted to get everyone’s attention.

I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) lately; from analysts to conference speakers. Please stop; EFM is a description of the past.

As I discussed in the post Customer Insight and Action (CIA) Platforms Emerge, EFM is an outdated moniker for applications that support voice of the customer (VoC) programs. It’s like talking about music coming on cassettes. Let’s look at the words:

  • Enterprise. The focus of these efforts need to be on the customer, not the enterprise.
  • Feedback. The analysis needs to examine insight across a variety of inputs, not just feedback.
  • Management. The value of these efforts come from taking action, not from managing surveys.

In the Temkin Group report The Evolution Of Voice Of The Customer Programs we label the emerging class of applications as “Customer Insight and Action (CIA) Platforms” which we define as:

A technology for automating multi-channel customer feedback, analysis, and response and the related workflow associated with closed-loop voice of the customer (VoC) programs

If you’re wondering where VoC programs are heading, then check out the posts Voice Of The Customer Programs Grow Up or 6 Ds For Voice Of The Customer Programs.

How Is CIA Different Than EFM?

  • CIA pulls together a full picture of the customer. These applications examine a variety of inputs like who the customer is (often from CRM applications), what the customer has done and is doing (often from analytics and ERP applications), and everything that customer has told us (including call center interactions and sales notes).
  • CIA does not overly rely on surveys. EFM grew up as a platform for managing multiple surveys, but these structured data inputs are becoming a less dominant form of insight. As text analytics becomes a more mainstream capability, companies will tap into unstructured data sources at an increasing rate.
  • CIA focuses on operationalizing the insights. VoC programs provide value when companies take customer-insightful actions based on the insight. These applications need to focus on getting the right information into the hands of the right people at the right time for them to incorporate into their day-to-day activities.
  • CIA makes market research practices obsolete. In the post Market Research Needs An Overhaul, I discuss how new VoC programs challenge historical operating practices for market research organizations; putting pressure on these groups (inside of and outside of the enterprise) to deliver value, not just reports.
  • CIA cuts across technology categories. While EFM applications represented a technology niche serving market research groups, I expect that CIA will become mainstream business platforms. The ability to disseminate and act on customer insights offers a compelling value proposition that will likely evolve into a key infrastructure for many companies. Since it cuts across areas like CRM, BI (business intelligence), BPM (business process management), and customer analytics, look for the big boys (IBM, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce.com, etc.) to get active in this space very soon.

The bottom line: EFM was an evolutionary step on the way to CIA platforms.

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

7 Responses to Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Is Dead

  1. Michael Whitehouse says:

    A long overdue post, and perfectly well articulated!

    It’s incumbent on all of us to drop the trite, stale, and outmoded EFM terminology and all the pre-social, pre-empowered customer thinking that goes along with it.

  2. An excellent post as usual, except one point – your list of differences between EFM and CIA appears to promote, or at least keep supporting, the myopic approach to Customer Experience management. Forgive me if I misinterpreted your post, but any platform that does not provide customer experience intelligence within a context of the market segment, is falling short of supporting actionable results.

  3. Thank you for this insightful post, Bruce.
    You are quite right; Basic use of Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) has tended to fall into the research category, and has certainly not focused enough on the capability to follow up and the value of acting on the feedback. This is an unfortunate “legacy” that is largely based on the fact that several EFM vendors originated from within the traditional market research space. You are also quite right in the fact that input is not just about feedback, and feedback is not just about surveys. In my opinion EFM is not outdated unless its players are unable to innovate and develop. How it’s done makes all the difference. What it’s called is far less important. I have written more about this in my blog post “Enterprise Feedback Management – why should you care?

    Ivar Kroghrud
    CEO of QuestBack

  4. Dave Steventon says:

    There is a downside to VoC.
    As more companies adopt this new age tool the voice of the customer could get a little angry. For telemarketers to invade my privacy each supper time is bad. But VoC supports a trend where I could be pestered on my cell phone repeatedly following transactions? Seems a good way to eventually drive down NPS.
    Timely customer feedback is very important, but in the long term, is VoC the way to acquire it?

  5. Jennifer Fabrizi says:

    Great post! IMHO this is where marketing researchers who focus on surveys / VoC need to sit up and take notice that they are operating in a “everything looks like a nail so I’m using my hammer” mode. User experience is adept at many methods – from analyzing web analytics, usability research, interviews, A/B piloting, collaborative design, and more. CE and UX are worlds in collision, for the better I think. With a strong partnership between marketing and UX research, a much clearer picture of the customer emerges.
    The other thing UX brings to the table: skills in analyzing, interpreting, and representing feedback into actionable steps to a design solution. Now we can apply these analysis and design interpretation skills to service design!

  6. Bruce,

    We have been saying and productising exactly what you are saying for some time. We believe that CRM is the heart of any Voice of the Customer program – so much so that we bet the business on it seven years ago. It is the only sensible place to bring together attitudinal (feedback) and behavioral (response and purchase) information that can be viewed and acted on by people across the company. We also help customers recognise that gathering data across the customer journey goes beyond surveys as vehicles for collecting the voice of the customer and lots of our customers automatically create cases or tasks in CRM based on responses to multiple questions in feedback.

    How these principles are implemented are explored in our paper EFM + CRM = Improved Customer Experience (mail me for a copy david.jackson@clicktools.com) and take a look at http://blog.clicktools.com/2011/03/announcing-facebook-to-crm.html for using Facebook to capture information from consumers.

    Regards

    Dave J

  7. Is it purely coincidence that I wrote a blog post on the same topic on the same day? I don’t think so. Check it out here: http://www.clickfox.com/blog/voice-vocal-customers/

    The short of it is that EFM and every other statistical method is going to be outdated when the technology is available to analyze and predict based on patterns and behavior rather than taking an angry customer’s survey results and using that as the basis for mathematical computation.

    So, yes, I agree, EFM is dead.

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