• September 1, 2005
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Surveys: A Dying Breed?

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Enterprise feedback management (EFM) solutions are starting to replace surveys, according to a 2005 Gartner report. The study, "Make the Transition from Surveys to Enterprise Feedback Management," projects that 40 percent of total feedback system deployments will be done through EFM solutions by 2008. By 2010 independent survey vendors will cease to exist, having migrated to EFM platforms. "As the value of customer and employee feedback gains more importance among organizations, more enterprises are seeking ways to collect and analyze data," says Esteban Kolsky, senior research director at Gartner and author of the report. Historically, CRM has always been strong in providing behavioral, or transactional, customer information. Measuring and predicting a customer's attitude toward a company and/or its products and brand is still quite new. However, EFM solutions, or surveying tools, seek to map this uncharted ground. In the past, organizations conducted surveys by implementing inexpensive, low-functionality tools adopted by a specific department for a specific function. Two or more functions required two or more tools, deployed independently and conducted without leveraging the lessons of either. "Before, surveys were like mushrooms. They sprouted one by one and soon they took over the landscape," Kolsky says. "Companies would conduct a customer satisfaction survey, then a market research survey. That's not very productive and is a waste of time and resources. That's how CRM and ERP came along; somebody stepped up and created a centralized solution. EFM is the same thing, only for surveys." Currently surveys are used by companies to measure customers in five unrelated situations: customer satisfaction (external), HR processes (internal customer satisfaction), market research, process enhancement or monitoring processes that require periodic reporting, and compliance surveys to ensure certification processes are being maintained. As more organizations are demanding greater value and efficiency from departmental survey initiatives that may be shared with other departments, software providers have addressed these requests by providing a centralized framework, as opposed to a single-function tool. Gartner estimates that at least 10 percent of current feedback technology deployments involve EFM tools, and another 35 percent are considering adopting an EFM system in the near future. Among software providers leading the way, Kolsky cites Perseus Development, which in May released SurveySolutions/EFM, an enterprisewide Web-survey system. Another is Intelligenxia, which offers its product IxReveal (it manages unstructured feedback provided in surveys and uses that data to help managers discern customer trends). Kolsky maintains there are three criteria companies should follow to maximize the benefits of an EFM solution. One is developing a strategy to determine what they need to measure before making the implementation; the second is leveraging the end users and departments that will use the solution; and the third--perhaps the most important--is accurately consolidating the functions, processes, surveys, and feedback into one solution. "Reduce, reuse, and recycle feedback information with strict adherence to corporate standards," Kolsky says. "That's EFM's biggest benefit."
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