Picking the right customer feedback management (CFM) platform has never been more difficult. Technology in the space is converging, which means most vendors tout similar features and benefits, according to Forrester.
Customer experience (CX) professionals may struggle to differentiate between solutions and choose the best platform for their companies’ needs. Part of the problem is that there’s not a one-size-fits-all “best solution” when it comes to CFM.
Choosing the right platform is a little bit like picking out a new car at a dealership: Everything on the lot has four wheels and an engine, but depending on your unique situation, you might prefer a minivan with room for eight or a sporty two-seater coupe.
Similarly, most CFM vendors offer a few standard features, such as flexible surveying capabilities and basic analytics tools, but their offerings can vary a great deal from there.
The major differences tend to fall into three major buckets: support and customization, feedback options, and data collection and analytics.
CFM vendors vary widely in the level of customization and overall support they offer. For example, some market leaders offer out-of-the-box, industry-specific solutions that require, or allow, minimal customization.
These solutions can help get a traditional NPS program off the ground quickly, but they’re not very flexible and don’t adapt well to unique situations or evolving business needs.
At the other end of the spectrum, some vendors offer DIY deployments for customers who have the resources and expertise to drive a complete CFM program without much assistance.
These solutions can be highly customized, but they demand a lot of time and attention to set up and maintain.
Typically these resources have to spend a majority of their time on the mundane maintenance tasks like designing, building and deploying surveys or reporting, instead of focusing on taking action from insights and changing the business.
If you need both support and flexibility, leading CFM providers offer bespoke program design as well as ongoing consultative support.
Taking the role of a partner more than a vendor, these providers give strategic guidance on how to make the most of your CFM platform deployment as well as offering technical support and integration advice.
The right partner has a technology that enables them to be agile in how they support companies to continually evolve the technology to meet the changing business landscape.
Many CFM vendors offer basic survey capabilities that allow brands to collect structured feedback directly from customers. Many have also built out social listening capabilities that let them capture and analyze experience data from social data.
If your company’s CFM program needs are relatively simple and straightforward, these basic features may be sufficient—at least for now.
However, these traditional methods offer diminishing returns and put your long-term efforts in jeopardy. Consumers are constantly inundated with feedback requests, and lack the time and energy to click through lengthy lists of questions.
Innovators in the market now offer alternatives that make feedback delivery simpler and more conversational.
For example, with AI-driven active listening capabilities, a CFM platform can “read” open-ended consumer responses and ask tailored follow-up questions like a human interviewer.
In addition, video feedback and image upload features empower consumers to share feedback in convenient formats. These advanced capabilities are useful for companies looking for higher engagement and more nuanced, in-depth results than traditional surveys can offer.
All CFM platforms collect and analyze data to some degree, but not all offerings are equally robust.
For example, some vendors require a third-party data collection solution to fuel their analytics engines, while others have data collection capabilities built in. The right solution for you will depend on the depth and complexity of the analysis you want to conduct.
Best-in-class brands are those that are not just looking at survey or social data, but that are combining this data with other direct, indirect, and inferred data sources to get a holistic picture of what is happening within their customer experience.
Leading CFM platforms take it one step further: They ingest and analyze data from almost any source in the business, not just the customer experience (CX) department.
Incorporating customer, employee, contact center, social, operational, financial, demographic, and transactional data can give more context, depth, and accuracy to insights about your business.
For vendors working with more advanced AI-driven capabilities like active listening or dealing with reams of data from across the organization, having data science in their DNA is a must.
Look for a vendor with a robust team of data scientists who act as product managers, validating the vendor’s solutions, and leading problem solving with data science best practices and techniques.
CFM platforms might all look the same from a distance, but up close the differences are easy to see. To ensure CFM success, it’s vital to vet vendors carefully, with an eye to the three capability areas listed above.
Even more importantly, before you even start the procurement process, you should develop a clear picture of your company’s unique needs and circumstances. Are you in the market for a minivan or a coupe? A robust, data-science-driven analytics solution or a lightweight survey platform?
Finding the best CFM partner starts with you.
Andrew Park has spent more than a decade designing, deploying, and consulting on customer experience programs for global Fortune 1000 companies. In his current role as VP of CX Strategy, Andrew provides strategic counsel to InMoment prospects and clients, architecting and evolving their customer experience initiatives to deliver maximum business and relationship impact.
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