Customer service is getting more scientific all the time. It’s no longer enough to give “service with a smile” and hand out comment cards. What customers think about the service they receive is the difference between a company growing and dying, and a result customer satisfaction analysis has become incredibly scientific, especially in the enterprise. That’s why John Ragsdale took notice of a recent acquisition in the customer feedback space. Republished with permission from Ragsdale’s Eye on Service.

When Esteban Kolsky first coined the phrase “enterprise feedback management” or EFM back in 2006, I wasn’t wholly convinced. “Voice of the customer” seemed so much sexier. But I later understood that “VOC” is only part of EFM. If you are able to collect streams of feedback from a wide enough audience, then put it through the blender with sophisticated analytics, you have a solution much bigger than customer service. Yes, you will know immediately when support reps aren’t adequately trained for a new product launch. But you will also know consumer reactions to a new corporate ad campaign in minutes, not weeks, and with no focus groups. You will have more feedback than you ever thought possible on every imaginable product feature and option, all filterable by the demographics of your choice.

When I created the Technology Heatmap for 2011, I finally morphed “customer satisfaction surveys” into “EFM.” My reasoning is that more TSIA members are doing analysis of online community, forum and blog content to capture customer feedback to supplement survey programs, and I wanted the category to reflect that. The results of the 2011 Technology Spending Survey showed strong spending planned for EFM across service disciplines.

Our support services members, who have been investing in satisfaction tracking tools for a few years now, continue to invest with 31% of members planning new or additional investments in EFM in 2011-2012. But check out the other disciplines–education services, field service, even professional services–all our service disciplines are planning to invest in EFM over the next year. While I don’t survey marketing and sales organizations, I’m guessing they too are increasing investment in tools to analyze customer behavior and customer demands. With product cycles shrinking, being hyper responsive to customer demands is critical.

This is an awfully long-winded introduction to the announcement that Verint plans to acquire Vovici, announced this afternoon. Verint has done an excellent job of bringing together many streams of customer feedback onto a single platform, including recorded voice conversations, email and web chat transcripts, as well as online community posts and other social listening. In a way, I think you could classify these as ‘passive listening’ techniques–you are analyzing every available conversation to learn as much as possible. Vovivi offers a really slick and flexible OnDemand platform for building, executing and analyzing surveys, which I would call more ‘active listening’–you identify missing threads of conversations and actively pursue them.  Bringing together both passive and active listening onto a single platform could be incredibly powerful, and obviously a solution with potential benefits across the enterprise.

Vovici’s Nancy Porte, vice president of customer experience, has presented at TSW conferences on Social CRM, and Vovici has been a finalist for TSIA STAR Awards in the past. I congratulate both Verint and Vovici on this acquisition; not only do I think the merger makes sense to create a true EFM platform, but I also hope this gives Vovici even more visibility for their highly usable platform.

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ABOUT John Ragsdale

Avatar photoJohn Ragsdale is vice president of technology and social research for the Technology Services Industry Association. He writes a regular blog, Eye on Service, for the TSIA.