The last time I was briefed by Confirmit it had just acquired CustomerSat and, in addition to undergoing a number of internal developments, was transitioning from supporting market research, customer and employee feedback to focusing more on voice of the customer (VOC). One of its key differentiators has been its ability to combine market research, customer and employee feedback to close the loop and produce VOC reports and analysis that include all three perspectives. Confirmit added the ability to collect feedback through unstructured “conversations” on smart mobile devices, in recognition that these devices are being used more frequently by consumers and therefore such capabilities increase the likelihood of consumers responding to requests to provide feedback. Although my research on customer feedback management shows this to be an important, growing requirement, the Confirmit products continue to support the creation and analysis of surveys as a core way of collecting and understanding customer feedback.
This year Confirmit has concentrated on incremental improvements to its two products, Horizons v17.5 and CustomerSat v12.2, and although there has been some sharing of capabilities, they remain mostly independent products. Enhancements to Horizons have improved the following: the look and feel of its reporting capabilities, making it easier to use the features, set up ad hoc reports and interpret outputs; feedback collection, to support more desktop and mobile devices; survey design and management, making it easier to design and produce multichannel surveys that can be customized to particular project requirements; panel management, enabling easier setup of customer, employee and market research panels; and data management, making it easier to integrate more external data sources, automate transfer of data to and from Horizons, and use scripting tools to reduce setup times.
Feature enhancements to CustomerSat have focused on usability and production of dashboards. Its newest feature is Active Dashboards™, which provides each user with a personalized, interactive view of customer feedback tailored to the specific role of the user within the organization. Designed for the unique needs of VOC programs, it delivers real-time customer survey data through a custom-selected set of colorful charts, tables and widgets that enable users to visualize and analyze survey results at a glance. Users can also create, edit and manage their own dashboards using simple-to-use drag-and-drop capabilities. In addition, new features allow data to automatically update dashboards based on the user profile. The other main area of improvement focuses on the collection of feedback from mobile devices, to take advantage of newer device capabilities.
Confirmit has also improved the technical aspects of the products, making them more scalable, as well as enhancing data security and supporting both on-premises and cloud-based delivery models.
One of Confirmit’s strengths has always been its professional services and support for what Ventana Research defines as a performance management approach. In the context of VOC, this means its products and service support the definition and design of surveys and other methods for collecting feedback, analyzing the data to determine areas that require improvement and then ensuring action is taken to bring about those improvements, whether to products, services, processes, training or other employee-related tasks. This last step is vital because my research into customer feedback management shows that organizations are particularly bad at sharing feedback information and taking action: Only about one-third (34%) of organizations always respond to customers that complete surveys. The research also shows that more than two-thirds (67%) think it is very important to collect feedback, and nothing puts customers off more than spending time giving companies feedback and then not seeing it put to any use.
It has been a busy year for Confirmit, but as of yet, there has been only minimal convergence of its products. I was assured that this will happen in the next big release, v18, which is due at beginning of 2014. The promise is more convergence, changes to the technical architecture, more data management capabilities to support even more feature enhancements and processing of more feedback types and big data, more analytics capabilities, more mobile capabilities to support access to product features and collection of feedback, and features to support more collaboration across the enterprise. I will be keeping track of these advances, but companies wanting to improve their VOC programs would do well to evaluate how Confirmit can support and enhance initiatives to better understand customer, employee and market feedback.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director