At a time when the competition is a tap or mouse click away, it's a wonder more companies haven't set themselves up better to hear and respond to the voice of the customer (VoC).
We have the data. We have the technology. But in spite of this, less than half of companies (42 percent) are using one or more technology solutions to support their VoC programs.
Customer feedback management platforms (CFM) are especially well suited for this role, but the CFM programs in place are underutilized: less than 20 percent of companies use them to solicit feedback.
These are just a few of the notable discoveries Forrester analysts Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian, Harley Manning, Boris Evelson, Scott Ross, Robert Valdovinos and Laura Glazer uncovered while researching and creating The Forrester Wave: Customer Feedback Management (CFM) Platforms, Q2 2017 (fee charged).
The report named InMoment, Medallia, Qualtrics and Confirmit leaders; Clarabridge, MaritzCX and SMG strong performers; and NICE, Satmetrix Systems and Verint Systems strong contenders.
Customer Feedback Management Platforms
CFM platforms support Voice of the Customer programs in four specific activities:
- Listening: What are my customers saying about me on all channels?
- Interpreting: Making sense of the information collected while listening.
- Acting: Based on insights gleaned during interpretation, prescribing and deploying appropriate actions through resolution.
- Monitoring: How am I doing? What is my customer satisfaction score? Are the actions I am taking result in loyal customers?
Forrester's official definition for CFM is:
"A system of software and processes that supports a company's VoC program by helping a company to solicit feedback from key customers across channels; centrally collect solicited and unsolicited feedback; analyze structured and unstructured feedback; distribute insights across the organization; close the loop with customers; act on the insights; and monitor progress continuously."
An Evaluation That Acknowledges People
In researching the Wave, the analysts fielded their survey to 60 client references, conducted three client reference calls and evaluated each vendor according to 39 criteria. The criteria were bucketed into three groups: Current Offering, Strategy and Market Presence.
The criteria in the "current offering" category encompassed capabilities ranging from soliciting feedback across channels to collecting and integrating data from operational systems and unsolicited feedback, advanced analytics and more.
Notably, the analysts looked at the quality of each vendor's employees and how well it was able to retain them as part of the strategy criteria. The formal recognition of how people build, support and provide services around software and how product offerings often suffer due to turnover was refreshing to see.
In the Market Presence category the analysts looked at the level of penetration in the employee bases of customers as well as the size of each vendor's customer base.
They noted side by side comparisons of vendors were difficult because of the different strengths and weaknesses of the vendors. For example, one might rank poorly in soliciting customer feedback, but might also be best-in-class in things like text mining and analytics.
4 Customer Feedback Management Leaders
That being said, here are some of the findings:
InMoment ranked highest among the 10 vendors rated in strategy. It excelled in areas such as like active listening, real time text analysis and the ability to surface areas that need improvement and suggest remedial action.
That being said, the platform has what some may perceive as weaknesses. Users need training and certification before they can take advantage of the platform's self-service capabilities.
Medallia scored highest in terms of current offering, especially in providing a programmatic approach to CFM at scale. The analysts point to the company's acquisition of Kampyle as bringing in new capabilities for gathering information across digital channels. They also noted are areas of improvement in areas like self-service in the legacy platform.
Qualtrics falls within a hair of Medallia and InMoment both in Strategy and Current Offering. It excels at self-service analytics around designing surveys and gathering information via mobile and digital channels as well as other areas. While it was praised by the analysts for rapid innovation, customer culture has to be suited to that.
Confirmit, second only to Medallia on the Current Offering axis, excels in surveys, statistical analysis and recommending actions. But room for improvement is called for if Confirmit wants to appeal to users without market research or programming expertise.
It is worth noting that Clarabridge, which received top scores in text mining and analytics as well as data integration, just missed the Leaders ring, as did MaritzCX which shined in making it easy for customers to author surveys that not only meet their specific needs but also garner strong rates of quality responses.
Not Apples to Apples
When it comes to CFM — as with all software selections — businesses should remember to choose based on their specific needs, not necessarily who Forrester picked as a leader.
Having said that, the report offers a clear look at the strengths and weakness of various vendors across 32 different criteria and provides a tool for companies who want to leverage CFM in their VoC strategies to start the evaluation process.