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EFM Market Growing

I recently returned from the Gartner Customer Relationship Management (CRM) conference in London. While there, I was encouraged to hear about the growth of the Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) market. It seems that the EFM market, in conjunction with CRM and Customer Experience Management (CEM) has been growing, despite the economic climate, at a rate of about 20% in 2008 and is projected to hold the same in 2009.

We certainly have the same optimistic view for the industry. The root cause of growth appears to be increased customer retention through real-time voice of the customer (VOC) programs. EFM promises to efficiently bring the voice of the customer from across the enterprise closer to executives who need to make critical decisions. Listening to customers today certainly makes it easier to find a winning balance between products and services created and marketed, and those that customers are willing to buy. And customer retention improves when companies listen and respond to feedback.

There is more talk this year about feedback programs and not just survey programs. The inclusion of both explicit and implicit (solicited and unsolicited) is gaining visibility. Social networking is driving the implicit portion. The fact that this is being talked about so much is evidence that the market has matured significantly in the past 12 months.

According to Gartner, the top 3 reasons that companies are choosing EFM today are:
1. The importance of improving the customer experience has risen to the board level
2. The number of channels through which feedback can be collected has risen (Web, email, IVR, SMS, etc.)
3. The number of users and departments using feedback has grown

Gartner says there are two newer areas of feedback to consider adopting in a comprehensive feedback program: operations and behavioral. Operational means gleaning feedback from already-installed operational systems like IVR, email response and web analytics. These systems already touch the customer thousands of times a day, and can be used to gather feedback or for right-time marketing. Behavioral means the implied feedback customers give by their actions.

I believe the next big step for VOC programs will lie within the analytical side. Collecting data through surveys, comments and other means (through the means that customers decide) is going to be required by any serious solution. But using the data to create insights is critical. What is the current sentiment of customers, and what should be done about it? Are all comments being managed and responded to quickly to create a positive customer experience? How is the EFM data being fused with CRM and CEM data to create a holistic real-time customer view? Once these questions can be answered with positive solutions, solutions elevate to the next level. I know our product teams are working hard on these ideas now. The future is certainly exciting for vendors, companies and the customer.

Chris Cottle, VP of Marketing, Allegiance