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Contact Center Surveying Is Essential
The surveying market may be fragmented, but that doesn't diminish its importance.
For the rest of the November 2007 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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The best way to determine if customers are satisfied with your products and services is to ask them. This may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked amid the many demands of day-to-day operations. Systematically collecting and taking action on customer opinions should be a priority for all enterprises, as it's an important indicator of whether customers will remain loyal and whether they will recommend a company's products or services. Competitive Landscape The survey market is highly fragmented and consists of:
    1. Basic survey tools: Inexpensive and easy-to-use products that create, issue, and collect survey results. Most of these products include basic reporting, but do not include sophisticated reporting capabilities, real-time functionality, or analytics. These vendors include SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, SurveyGold, Survey Crafter, Survey Said, SurveyView, and SuperSurvey. 2. Contact center surveying and analytics offerings: Options that handle both interactive voice response (IVR) and Web-based surveys, have real-time alerting and reporting, and provide analytics. These vendors include Autonomy etalk, Customer Relationship Metrics, CustomerSat, Mindshare, Ransys, RightNow Technologies, UCN, and Verint Witness Actionable Solutions. 3. Market research organizations with surveying capabilities: Groups -- including The Gallup Organization, J.D. Power and Associates, and The Nielsen Company -- that are primarily firms that sell services, not products. 4. Other tools: Products, services, and companies -- such as SPSS, a predictive analytics firm -- that do not fit into other categories.
Contact Center Surveying and Analytics Offerings The contact center surveying market includes offerings packaged as either products or services. (See Figure 1, below.) Figure 1

The earliest market entrants provided surveying services and used technology to enable their offerings. Professional services are an essential element and are expected, if not demanded, by organizations without internal resources to implement a surveying program on their own.
Contact center surveying vendors have had to balance customer needs with their own profitability requirements. These vendors have been under tremendous pressure to keep pricing down to compete with inexpensive products such as SurveyMonkey.com or internal initiatives. This has limited the research and development investments by these companies, although many vendors have long lists of future product deliverables that are prioritized based on customer requirements. Customer service and contact center expertise are critical success factors for selling into the service segment of the surveying market. Three vendors in this report -- Autonomy etalk, RightNow Technologies, and Verint Witness Actionable Solutions -- added surveying functionality to their respective broader, but related, contact center product suites. UCN started as a reseller of telecom services, but for the last few years has been selling a hosted contact center suite. Customer Relationship Metrics and CustomerSat each started with an emphasis on customer service metrics. More recently, non-contact-center survey-services specialists -- such as Mindshare, Ransys, and SPSS -- have been entering this market segment. Change will only come when organizations -- enterprises large and small; federal, state, and local government agencies; educational institutions and not-for-profits -- act on the information contained in survey responses, actually demonstrating to constituents and customers that their input is valued. Customers want to know that someone in the company is listening. Donna Fluss is founder and president of DMG Consulting LLC, a firm specializing in customer-focused business strategy, operations, and technology services. Contact her at donna.fluss@dmgconsult.com.
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