The Meaning of EFM… It’s all in the Name
Posted on 2016 Aug,02  | By Mustapha Tabba

Mustapha Tabba, COO at Ipsos MENA, explains what Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) technology solutions entail and how it is set to change the game and carry organisations into the new era of customer experience management.

Leaders are constantly seeking new ways to drive customer centricity throughout their organisations. Time-starved customers are less and less willing to provide feedback through traditional data collection ways. Venture capitalists are funding specialist software companies with hundreds of millions of dollars to address company and customer needs alike under the name of Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM).

Enterprise Feedback Management technology solutions are enabling the ability to capture customer feedback, combining it with transactional and operational data, making feedback accessible enterprise-wide to support action, from the frontline to the executive team, with real-time, role specific dashboards, interpreting unstructured data using text analytics, and recovering customer relationships by triggering alerts and supporting improvement across the business. It is a dynamic and rapidly evolving market using technology at the core of its offering.

Yet even with this mounting popularity, confusion about what EFM is and how it is different from traditional customer research is hindering deployment and real business success. This is particularly applicable to most of the MENA region, and it’s about time we catch up with the global trend. 


E is for Enterprise

The idea that EFM is fundamentally about broad enterprise usage is being lost in a jumble of traditional “old-school” transactional customer satisfaction research programs. All over the world, across industry sectors, and for many years there have been large research projects focused on measuring the last experience a customer has had. However, these programmes typically report to a handful of researchers in a central location who prepare reports that are disseminated infrequently to a select set of middle managers.

On the other hand, true EFM is about broad, real-time usage whereby nearly all employees, from the CEO to front-line staff, receive role-appropriate types of customer feedback daily. This democratisation of customer feedback data is the hallmark of EFM. It is spawning a real revolution in how organisations become customer-centric by tightening the loop to near instantaneous broad recognition of experience performance - be it good or bad.

To know if your current programme is truly EFM, simply ask yourself: “How many people in our organisation have their own unique usernames and passwords to see their own specific customer information?”. 


F is for Feedback

This is the realm of real-time data capture that combines a wide variety of customer feedback sources, as well as related operational and financial data and employee feedback too. 

The age of single source data being reported in silos is ending. Furthermore, feedback is increasingly unstructured as customers become less willing to complete traditional feedback surveys. Feedback includes data that need not be actively provided. Passive geo-localisation data is just one of the many new and powerful sources of feedback being combined, analysed, and presented throughout organisations. 


M is for Management

The emphasis of EFM is on action, change, and improvement, or in other words, on the management of customer experiences.

Management requires analysis to move away from purely backwards historical views and towards predicting the impact of customer experiences on customer behaviour and adjusting the strategy and tactics of the business in anticipation of predicted customer behaviour. Most importantly, management is about closing the loop on individual customer events, rather than simply feeding a scorecard which was the hallmark of traditional transactional research programmes. 

True EFM systems don’t stop at providing scorecards; they foster the taking of immediate action every single time an experience goes wrong, a customer seeks help, or a business process is predicted to fail.


So, there it is – EFM simplified.  

In very basic terms EFM is a continuous cycle. Data pulled from internal systems, customers invited and in-turn participate in research that gets fed to a portal. Data is then re-integrated into the organisation’s internal systems with new processes/interactions of where improvements need to be made, and focus areas to increase customer advocacy. Each time they go through the cycle, which is continuous, the organisation will better service their customers. 

With the hype and promise of harnessing the volume, velocity and variety of customer experience data by applying Enterprise Feedback Management technologies, it is easy to be confused about how leaders should think about adopting these new and powerful tools. Probably the biggest key word here is “Integration”, as the key to the success of EFM rests in how it is immersed within existing customer experience programmes. Many EFM providers tend to focus on the technicalities and software capabilities of such systems, when the true focus should be on how we manage the programme and what we actually do with the produced insights. Ongoing project management is required, along with workshops and solid communication plans – especially before adopting such a programme. After implementation, continuous monitoring of key performance drivers along with a combination of in depth analysis of complementary data from other sources within the organisation is essential to make EFM insights actionable. This requires a change of philosophy and a shift with regards to how we perceive customer experience programmes in general.  

From a vendor’s perspective, EFM should not be about re-selling or implementing EFM software solutions. Instead, organisations require vendors to become trusted advisors that offer both service and a software. The solutions should be tailoured around organisational needs rather than the forcing of rigid software upon them. True EFM is a holistic programme that is set to change the game, and carry organisations into the new era of customer experience management, not measurement.