Customers possess a powerful voice, arguably stronger now than ever before, as they are making tougher decision as to which products or services they can afford to keep and which ones they must cut during this recession.
Companies looking to collect all of the consumers' thoughts -- good or bad -- and take the information to heart to improve its business do not find themselves alone, according to new research from DMG Consulting. According to the "2009 Contact Center Surveying/Feedback and Analytics Market Report," the space grew by 18 percent between 2008 and 2009, with implementations growing from 1,850 to 2,177 in that same timeframe.
According to Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting and author of the report, while the 18 percent growth marked a decline from its record high of 21.3 percent growth last year, it is still stronger than many other technology categories. "The marketplace held up because people see surveying as a way to reduce customer attrition and retain its revenue base," she says. "In a recession, that's what they are after more than anything else."
Noting that she has built in conservative growth forecasts due to the recession, she predicts that the market will grow by 6 percent in 2009, 5 percent in 2010, and 8 percent in 2011. She is quick to point out that doesn't mean she believes the allure of this technology will fade, explaining she has found the average payback period for these solutions to be six months, with most customers seeing an average return double or triple their investment. "Penetration rates are still very low, yet the opportunity remains high," she says. "Keep in mind that contact center technology usually lags from a recovery perspective."
Part of the opportunity comes from the fact that more organizations are recognizing the power feedback can have throughout the business, not just in the contact center. The growth of enterprise feedback management is quite real, she says, which also jibes with recent research done by others on the topic.
According to the DMG study, vendors are enhancing their solutions to make the findings more actionable for groups inside and outside of customer service. Companies have responded in kind, as use of surveying and analytics solutions by departments beyond the contact center rose by 23 percent, growing from 58 percent penetration in 2007 to 81 percent in 2008.
"The contact center is the focal point of customer interaction in most organizations, and it really does have deep insights into what is on consumers' minds," Fluss says. "The rest of the organization needs to know, it's very important the different departments that may have caused an increase in call volume know what they did right or wrong."
While the popularity of EFM continues to grow, the study also finds that social networking and media will continue to play a larger role in surveying and feedback. Fluss says at this point, providers are evangelizing more than releasing products to help utilize the information on these burgeoning channels. "Vendors are talking and thinking about it, and it's going to take some time before we see more applications for it," she says, adding we can expect to see much more within the next two years. "Should social media modules be in CRM applications? Absolutely. In terms of surveying applications, they need to be able to incorporate feedback from social networking capabilities into the enterprise feedback mechanisms."
The top players in the contact center surveying market has also evolved in the past year, due to vendors providing packaged surveying solutions designed for use without accompanying consulting services, as well as ones better positioned to survey other constituents -- including employees, partners, investors, and prospects. The seven leading vendors are (in alphabetical order):
- inContact (formerly United Carrier Networks);
- RightNow Technologies; and
- Verint Systems.
"Enterprises are not just talking about the importance of surveying and feedback, but they are making investments ... and the vendor community is responding with more actionable, packaged solutions," Fluss says. "There is still a lot of room for improvement ... but things are moving in the right direction."
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