Confirmit, a provider of enterprise feedback management (EFM) solutions, recently launched a new edition of its Horizons software, intended to help customers gain more value from and act more quickly upon surveys and customer feedback. The release includes improved feedback management tools and the introduction of a framework designed to ease customization to and extension atop the platform, according to Confirmit executives. The company has also launched Confirmit Flex, a developers' toolkit that allows third parties to build extensions to Confirmit's platform.
Founded in 1996 as an online data-collection service, Confirmit merged with Pulse Train three years ago and has since played in both the EFM and the Voice of the Customer (VoC) arenas -- an evolution continued in the new Horizons product, according to Gary Schwartz, Confirmit's senior vice president of marketing. "This was very much a 'listening' release," Schwartz says, referring to the company's reliance on feedback from its own customers in developing the latest release. Instead of just tacking on additional features, he explains, the company focused on the what he calls the most important insight gained from current customers: the desire to change, update, and integrate the Confirmit platform.
The flexible development environment provided by the Confirmit Flex toolkit, Schwartz says, will allow Confirmit's customers and partners -- and, he notes, Confirmit itself -- to react quickly to market trends. A few applications have already been developed using Flex, Schwartz says, including a Confirmit application for Apple's iPhone device built to run native on the smartphone's operating system as opposed to its Web browser.
Mobile feedback applications appear to be gathering steam across the VoC market. "IPhone [applications] are absolutely going to be important functionality for Voice of the Customer vendors," says Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Bruce Temkin. "In particular, getting information into the hands of people who need to take action on the data will be the key focus." In addition, Confirmit has used Flex to create a geolocation application that identifies a survey respondent's true location -- a critical addition in the fight against online-survey fraud.
In response to the many customers using Microsoft PowerPoint to display survey and feedback findings, the Horizon update includes the ability to integrate dynamic Confirmit data into a PowerPoint presentation. Users can create presentations on the fly without the burden of repeatedly exporting and importing fresh data. Schwartz suggests this functionality represents a major step for the company. "This is a big innovation," he enthuses. "We think it's unique in our space."
And while Temkin may be more circumspect of the offering's uniqueness — "Several of the VoC vendors have or are working on this type of functionality," he points out — he agrees that the feature itself "can be really helpful since there are a ton of PowerPoint presentations made from VoC data."
The PowerPoint add-on is free for on-demand users of Horizon, and is available for on-premises customers at additional cost.
Confirmit integrates with a number of CRM systems, allowing users to bring CRM data into the feedback management platform for analysis. Users, for instance, can correlate customer satisfaction surveys with monthly spend data; attitudinal data can be contrasted with financial data. "Customers need more-relevant analytics," Schwartz emphasizes. "At the end of the day, they're trying to solve business problems."
Temkin notes that putting to use the information gained from surveys is significantly more difficult than the surveying process itself. "Companies can learn from very clear practices about how to execute the surveys," the analyst says, "but it takes crossfunctional teams and a lot of good leadership to establish a repeatable process for using the insights to make changes."
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