NICE Systems has agreed to acquire Fizzback, a specialist vendor of customer feedback management software. On first read this appears to be another acquisition to gain market share, as NICE already provides a customer feedback tool; however,  Fizzback’s customer base is much smaller than NICE’s, so this looks unlikely. Representatives of NICE explained to me that the acquisition is part of its long-term strategy to enhance its customer feedback management capabilities and to build a stronger voice of the customer.

The current NICE product captures customer feedback in a formulaic, reactive way using after-call surveys. NICE says its customers want to be able to capture feedback in a more unstructured way and at the point of interaction. The Fizzback product does this in two ways. The first method is to use text messaging to capture feedback in a free-form manner, for example, by asking customers to reply using their cell phones to a question posted on a message board in a shop about a product, the shop layout or the quality of service. The Fizzback system captures a customer’s response and then uses text analytics and a rules-based engine to create a reply thanking the customer for the input and possibly asking additional questions. Because of this conversational approach as the customers are having the experience, they may become more engaged in the “conversation” and the company may get higher levels of response and more insights. The second method is more of a push methodology which, again based on predefined rules, sends a short survey or unstructured questions to customers via a mobile device, the Web or social media. The system captures the response and is then able to initiate feedback with the customer in the same way as for text messages.

They key to the Fizzback product is text analytics, which can identify words and phrases in the responses to identify customer insights, sentiment and other information. The system can combine this input with data from other customer sources (for example, CRM or ERP systems) to produce real-time dashboards, reports and analytics, which can be pushed to all levels within an organization.

As I have written before, customer feedback is useful only if a company takes action based on the insights gathered from it. To assist this, the Fizzback product includes a workflow engine that, based on the outcomes of analysis, sends action items to the most appropriate person.

This acquisition will increase NICE’s market share and will add important functionality to its customer feedback capabilities. In the longer term it will enhance NICE’s customer experience management (CEM) capabilities by giving users the opportunity to uncover customer insights more quickly and if necessary take corrective action. The outputs will also be included in the overall analytics capabilities thus extending the content of NICE’svoice of the customer. Finally the outputs can be linked back to the agent who handled the call, which will enhance the agent quality monitoring process and help schedule and focus coaching and training using NICE’s workforce management product.

Ventana Research believes customer feedback management is a critical part of any CEM program because if don’t know what customers think of your company, products and services, you won’t know where to take action. Have you deployed or are you thinking of deploying customer feedback management or any other customer experience management product? If so, please tell us about it and come collaborate with me.

Regards

Richard Snow – VP & Research Director