The last time I reviewed Confirmit it had just acquired CustomerSat and was re-engineering its products to support a broader approach to voice of the customer (VOC), which Ventana Research defines as a complete view of customer interactions, customer sentiments after interactions and the outcomes of those interactions. During my latest briefing, I found out that the new architecture will be available in version 18 of the product, which Confirmit recently announced as generally available. Confirmit also recently announced the acquisition of Integrasco for social and text analytics and says it intends to have those products at least partly integrated into the core product during the second quarter of this year.
The core of the new product is called Confirmit SmartHub. The concept behind it is simple but the product takes a lot of development to create: Combine market, business, employee and customer engagement data, rationalize it and apply analytics to derive insights based on a wider range of data than is typical. The challenge is that the data comes from many sources and is increasingly in unstructured formats, especially text. This complexity is highlighted in our forthcoming next-generation customer analytics benchmark research, which finds that companies have to process data from seven systems on average, including text-based sources such as CRM notes, mobile text messages, instant messaging and Web scripts and social media posts. The research also shows that because of this complexity, companies spend by far the most effort on tasks such as accessing data and ensuring its quality. Confirmit SmartHub addresses many of these issues and enables users to focus on the key tasks of identifying the information they are looking for, interpreting the outputs and deciding on appropriate action.
Confirmit’s ability to process text-based data currently comes through its OEM arrangement with Clarabridge. Eventually the new acquisition of Integrasco will provide an in-house option that provides very similar capabilities. Both technologies extract text-based data from Smarthub and use text analysis capabilities to first categorize the transaction and then derive a customer sentiment score from the content. It passes the results back into the hub where they can be blended in with other customer insights and analysis, producing a more complete voice of the customer.
In my experience and research into customer feedback management, I’ve found that there are many interpretations of VOC. Some take it literally, restricting it to analysis of customer conversations, while to others it means analysis of structured customer feedback. But the most advanced companies appreciate that VOC requires analysis of all forms of customer interaction and transactions, regardless of whether they are solicited by the company or come by way of unsolicited activities (such as a social media post), or whether it is explicit feedback or insights derived from less explicit activities (such as use of a loyalty card). Indeed, my research into the next-generation customer experience shows that the top priorities for companies are to improve the customer experience and customer service, both of which require analysis of all customer-related data, regardless of its nature.
There has been an explosion in the use of social media by consumers and companies, although my research into next-generation customer engagement shows that consumer use is far more extensive, as companies mainly use social media for marketing and struggle to see where it fits with customer service and VOC programs. For Confirmit, the acquisition of Integrasco empowers it to offer companies an option that puts social media at the heart of VOC in four complementary ways. Users can identify hot issues being posted on social media and explore these in more detail through a more formal VOC process. Second, in a similar way they can identify early warnings of brand, product or service issues and explore them in more detail. Third, they can compare VOC findings with insights gained from social media, thus adding weight to the findings. And finally, they can make social media another channel of interaction to enrich the insights already gained by a VOC program.
Confirmit has built a strong presence in VOC, through a combination of acquisitions of and continues through new in-house developments. Acquisitions bring both benefits and challenges, not the least of which is integrating products into a harmonious whole. Ventana Research’s benchmark research shows that usability is the top determinant for companies as they evaluate software, so it will be key for Confirmit to continue to invest in its user interface and fit the Integrasco technology into it. In my view, understanding customers and their interactions with the company are paramount to business success, so I recommend that companies continue to invest in the broadest VOC program possible and Confirmit should be one of the companies they evaluate.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director