Formation of MaritzCX is Sign of VoC Times

In case you missed it, the VoC technology provider Allegiance was purchased by Maritz Holdings and then combined with Maritz Research (a part of the acquiring company) to form MaritzCX. Carine Clark, the CEO of Allegiance, was named CEO of the new company.

My take: First of all, I like the move for both Martiz and Allegiance. MaritzCX can offer a strong technology platform and a strong services capability. The newly formed company has the scale and capabilities to compete effectively for most large-scale VoC implementations.

Allegiance has been one of the growing class of applications that I call Customer Insight and Action (CIA) Platforms. I coined this term in 2010 while other people were calling them Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) systems. As the dynamics in the market continue to play out, these technologies are looking even more like CIA Platforms. Rather than just focusing on surveys and other forms of feedback, these systems increasingly:

  • Incorporate non-feedback data like customer profiles and transactional history
  • Distribute tailored, contextual insights across an organization
  • Provide alerts based on specific criteria
  • Support workflow associated with taking action based on the insights
  • Integrate with other applications like CRM and workforce management

The acquisition/merger is an acknowledgement that running a leading-edge VoC program requires more than a technology platform. Recent Temkin Group shows that only 11% of VoC programs within large companies have reached the top levels of maturity. These efforts aren’t easy. This graphic from our report, Text Analytics Reshapes VoCs, highlights some of the capabilities that future VoC programs will need: TAVoCChanges

To implement a world-class VoC program, companies need to undergo significant change. It takes a combination of:

  • CIA Platform for gathering customer data, uncovering insights, and sharing actionable insights across the organization.
  • Skills for defining research methodologies, managing the data flow, analyzing data, and building processes for sharing actionable insights and driving continuous improvement.
  • Governance for ensuring that the company makes changes across the company based on the flow of actionable insights.

MaritzCX is an attempt to combine those capabilities into a single provider. That’s the same motivation that led Mindshare (renamed InMoment) to acquire Empathica last year (which was a move that I liked for those companies as well).

This acquisition will push other aspiring CIA Platform vendors such as Clarabridge, Confirmit, Kampyle, Medallia, NICE, Qualtrics, ResponseTek, and Verint to strengthen their relationships with services companies.

Will there be more acquisition in the VoC arena? Absolutely. CIA Platforms are a natural extension to CRM and analytics applications, so watch for the big software players (e.g., Oracle,, IBM, SAP) to get more active into this space.

The bottom line: MaritzCX is a sign of things to come.



Customer Experience Highlights From Monte Carlo

As I mentioned in the previous post, I enjoyed the Customer Experience Exchange 2010 in Monte Carlo earlier this week. I couldn’t go to all of the sessions, but here are highlights from some of the speakers that I saw:

  • Andrew Gerrie, Co-Founder and CEO at Lush. Andrew followed me on stage and dropped a bath bomb into a clear tub of water and we watched it fizz. I still remember the first Lush store that I went into. The salesperson came over with a bucket of water and dropped some of those bombs into it and water splashed on to the floor. She didn’t seem to mind. That was an experience! Andrew explained how those in-store demonstrations force employees to have conversations with customers. It also helps them attract employees who really like Lush products. Lush invests a lot in training its employees so that they can answer a wide range of questions about skin care; even beyond what their products can do. He also shared pictures from the company’s “Naked Products Campaign” where employees wear nothing but an apron to highlight the fact that Lush products are “naked” of preservatives and complex packaging. Click here to see some images on Google of that campaign.
  • Ingrid Lindberg, Chief Experience Officer at CIGNA. It’s always great to see my friend Ingrid. Although I keep close tabs on what she’s been up to at CIGNA, it was great to hear her talk about CIGNA’s customer experience story. They’ve done so many good things to make CIGNA more customer centric; including eliminating words that are confusing to customers (there’s a lot of them in the US healthcare system), making the call center accessible 24×7, and improving the usability of the website. These efforts haven’t just increased loyalty, they’ve also improved medical outcomes for their customers. Proof positive that good customer experience saves lives 🙂 I’ll be doing a case study on CIGNA — look for it in a few weeks.
  • Moira Dorsey, VP & Research Director at Forrester. I really enjoyed catching up with Moira, another friend who I sat next to for several years at Forrester. Her speech discussed how the future of online customer experience can be described with the acronym CARS: Customized, Aggregated, Relevant, and Social. To showcase what the future will be like, she highlighted some existing practices, noting this quote from the science fiction writer, William Gibson: “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
  • Simon Glynn, Senior Partner at Lippincott. Simon’s presentation introduced a model of brands based on two dimensions: Authentic Stories (story power) and Inspiring Experiences (experience power). He showed how using these  in a 2×2 diagram leads to 4 quadrants of brands: Unattached (low on stories and experiences), Myths (high on stories, low on experiences), Tribal (low on stories, high on experiences), and Legends (high on stories and experiences). It turns out that Legends (like and O2) have an average 5-year growth rate of 8% compared to -4% for Unattached brands (like BT and Aldi).
  • Rob Siefker, Senior Manager Customer Loyalty at Zappos. After having interviewed CEO Tony Hsieh a few years ago, I’ve always been a fan of the Zappos story. The culture at Zappos is almost cult-like. And they can keep it that way, because as Rob described: It’s harder to get a job at Zappos than to get into Harvard; they only hire 1% of applicants. The interview process is tuned to find people who will buy-in to the culture; a couple of the questions they ask are “what would your theme song be, and why?” and “On a scale from 1 to 10, how weird are you?” The company replaced its standard reviews with cultural reviews, making it clear that it measures its managers in 4 key areas: driving the culture, inspiring new ideas and creative thinking, helping employees find their calling and reach their peak, and providing recognition.
  • Graham Webster, Director of Customer Experience at Telefonica O2 Europe. Graham discussed how the company’s vision helps engage employees in “something bigger than themselves” and how Telefonica is trying to go beyond satisfaction to turn customers into FANS. I loved when he said “If we look after our customers, they will take care of our brand. Customers complain, but FANS forgive.” The company researched the value of enthusiastic customers compared to detractors and found that they: have half the churn rate, deliver 9% more in average revenue per user, and generate less than one-fifth of the claims. Graham described a three-step evolutionary path: Random Experience to Predictable Experience to Branded Experience. What are the elements of a Branded Experience? Consistent, Intentional, Differentiated, Valuable, and Emotional Relationship.
  • Roger Sant, VP Research Solutions at Maritz. Roger talked about “making your customers fall in love with you.” He showcased results from a survey of 1,200 consumers that looked at emotional and functional attributes for banks, supermarkets, and mobile phones. The research pointed to three levels of relationship between a customer and the brand: Unfulfilled, Functionally Satisfied, and Emotionally Connected. Here’s the comparison of top box scores between Unfulfilled customers and Emotionally Connected customers: retention (9% to 58%), recommend (3% to 49%), and cross-sell (7% to 41%).
  • Frederico Cesconi, Director Of Business Intelligence at Cablecom. Frederico shared the companies model which looks at customer experience as a series of layers (going from inside to the outside): Systems, Processes, Touchpoints, Interactions, Customer, and Experience. The company focuses on 4 core processes: sales to activation, service assurance, incident handling, and billing to cash. He showed a wonderful report that they call a “Survival Analysis.” It charted churn rate against the number of negative incidents that a customer had run into — highlighting the cost of a bad experience. He also highlighted the need for customer feedback. Their internal metrics showed 83% first call resolution, but when they measured it with customers it turned out to be only 58%.

The bottom line: Monaco hosted the customer experience grand prix this week.

%d bloggers like this: