OPINION10 June 2013

The real meaning of EFM


Ipsos Loyalty’s John Carroll cuts through the confusion surrounding Enterprise Feedback Management to get to the heart of why it’s different from traditional customer research.

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. It’s about time we simplify EFM for the sake of clarity.

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?”. Then divide that figure by your total number of employees. If you have a ratio equal to 10% or less, you know you do not have EFM in place yet.

F is for Feedback

This is the realm of real-time data capture that combines a wide variety of customer feedback and other customer data, as well as related operational and financial data and employee feedback too. The continuous combination of a diverse set of customer experience data streams, including those from social, mobile, local, and commercial (SoLoMoCo) sources, is new.

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

Here again is a simple and important difference from the traditional approach, whereby the “M” stood for measurement. 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. 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. By ensuring EFM addresses broad enterprise usage of multiple active and passive feedback sources in a framework oriented much more towards management than measurement, we can be sure to capture maximum value from our EFM investments.

John Carroll III is global head of clients for Ipsos Loyalty

1 Comment

11 years ago

John, thanks for the simplification!

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