Yes, Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Is Still Dead

I recently wrote a post called Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Is Dead that reiterated a point that I made in a Temkin Group report last September: EFM is an outdated term. I coined the term Customer Insight and Action (CIA) platforms as a better description of where these platforms (and the companies that use them) are heading.

My point on all of this is simple: If you don’t understand where things are heading, then you are destined to fall behind. Managing feedback is becoming a commodity, so customer experience professionals and vendors need to build a broader set of capabilities to support more extensive voice of the customer (VoC) programs. (Check out our VoC resource page for more info on the future of VoC programs)

Neil Davey at MyCustomer.com wrote a nice article called Enterprise feedback management: Dead or alive? that weaves together a pro vs con discussion with different industry analysts about the terms “EFM” and “CIA.” Here are the answers that I gave to his questions:

Question: Why is ‘enterprise feedback management’ an outdated/outmoded area in your opinion? Why/how will CIA platforms replace EFM?

My response: Companies with leading-edge voice of the customer programs are getting well past the legacy of managing surveys, which has been the essence of Enterprise Feedback Management platforms. Success comes from taking action on insights that include, but are not in any way limited to, survey responses. As a matter of fact, some of the key insights about customers will come from looking at things that aren’t necessarily direct feedback — like customer transaction patterns or calls into the call center. So successful companies won’t be managing feedback to the enterprise, they will be taking action based on customer insights.

Question: There seems to be support in some quarters for keeping the EFM moniker, even if the applications change to become very different from what originally represented EFM. Why would the market/businesses benefit from EFM making way for a new term such as CIA? 

My response: You can continue to refer to a car as a “horse and buggy” but it doesn’t make it an accurate description. I think that people need to let go of the past and understand that the future for EFM platforms is quite different than their heritage of helping market research groups managing surveys. I think that the next generation of enabling technology, Customer Insight and Action (CIA) platforms, will have a dramatic affect on the competitiveness of organizations.

Question: What are your thoughts on the suggestion that creating another acronym will cause more confusion in the market?

My response: Confusion is often the first step towards enlightenment. Practitioners that continue to operate as if there is long-term value in using EFM platforms to manage their survey programs will find themselves looking extremely outdated compared with more enlightened practitioners. EFM vendors that don’t recognize that they are part of a larger and evolving CIA platform market will find themselves blindsided by vendors like IBM, SAP, Salesforce.com, and SAS who are already noticing where this is heading. So if some confusion forces people to rethink their strategy, then it is well worth it.

Question: Ultimately, how do you expect this to pan out – are you expecting the market to embrace another label or will it prefer to stick with EFM, even if it bears little resemblance to the original EFM? And why do you believe it will pan out this way?

My response: My ultimate goal with this discussion has nothing to do with the name of the platforms. There are some significant changes coming to business practices and technology that will allow companies to more dramatically tap into customer insights. My goal is to help companies understand those changes and to thrive in the future. If they are prepared for those changes, then I don’t care if they call these platforms “EFM,” CIA,” or anything else.

No matter what term you choose to use, one thing is very clear: companies are much more likely to succeed if they focus on customer insight and action than if they focus on enterprise feedback management.

The bottom line: Let go of EFM and head to CIA no matter which term you use

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.

3 Responses to Yes, Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Is Still Dead

  1. Ray Brown says:

    Hi Bruce I think you are “on the money”. The core message is that the market (and the customer that make up the market) is changing. Some of the processes of the past are now not “fit for purpose”. The days of noting that our customer satisfaction rating has gone from 7.2 to 7.8 are gone. Gaining customer insight that is acted upon, will be a key differentiator in future. In essence it’s about moving from inside-out to outside-in. I believe new language is very important because it helps combats the complacency that often surfaces as “oh we do that already”.

  2. Ryan Lyster says:

    Insightful as always Bruce. Do you get the sense that some traditional EFM vendors are making the switch to the CIA approach?

    We are looking at investing in tools to support our VoC program, and are narrowing in on a couple of the better “EFM” vendors. Obviously if we do invest, we want to be with an organization that is forward looking. Do you have any recommendations on who we should be looking at if we’re on board with the CIA concept?

  3. EFM definitely requires a revitilization plan, and I believe that begins with: 1) generating feedback from customers that is greater than a 2% participation rate 2) engaging customers to respond to questions which keep organizations engaged in their customers responses 3) enabling organization to utilize the customer feedback data in a way that stimulates a relationship with their customers. See how ez-rate.biz is helping in these areas.

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