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Are You Ready for Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM)?

Richard Hanks

Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Defined

Enterprise Feedback Management is the process of systematically collecting, analyzing, consolidating and then using all sources of feedback to improve your business and your overall profitability. EFM includes not only aggregating feedback from multiple stakeholders across multiple channels, but also disseminating real-time, actionable information across the company to where it is most relevant, and then enforcing accountability for follow-up and service lapse recovery. (Click on diagram to enlarge.)

An Introduction to EFM

What if most of the money transactions in your company did not flow through a single accounting system, were not followed up on, and were never reconciled?

Imagine the chaos.

Simply replace the word "money" in the above scenario with the word "feedback," and you have a pretty good picture of what most service companies in the world are currently facing.

For example, many companies collect customer feedback using point-of-sale surveys or comment cards, others perform internal quality checks, or use third-party mystery shoppers to measure performance—yet these different types of feedback are never consolidated and presented back to the unit manager for follow-up and customer recovery.

Enterprise Feedback Management helps solve each of these shortcomings. Feedback is collected, consolidated, analyzed, and immediately available to front-line managers to improve operations. The information is widely accessible up and down the organization’s hierarchy, with different reports, roles and permission levels available for different types of users.

With real-time feedback, consolidated from all sources, managers have a tool to make an immediate impact. When customers and employees see or hear that their input is actually being put into use, they become increasingly invested as an emotional "owner" of the business, which brings a heightened level of attachment and loyalty.

Benefits of EFM

A well-designed, properly executed EFM solution provides numerous benefits, but is especially useful in helping you understand your relationships with customers, employees, partners, suppliers and others, regarding key issues and concerns, as well as noteworthy positive feedback. Some specific examples of the benefits of EFM include:

  • Enabling real-time, customer-driven response.
  • Pinpointing specific store/team/employee training needs.
  • Ensuring service-lapse recovery – fixing problems so they don’t recur.
  • "Saving" customers (and their lifetime value) before they permanently defect.
  • Compensating employees based directly on customer performance measurements.
  • Providing integrated reporting of all feedback, from all "moments of truth."
  • Knowing how and how much satisfaction drives loyalty, which then drives financial results.
  • Understanding the key drivers that keep customers returning to your business.
  • Driving consistency across the organization by sharing results widely.

Robust EFM systems provide additional benefits by allowing companies to leverage data across departments. For example, transactional surveys can be augmented with additional market research-oriented questions, thereby saving time and resources.

Effective EFM systems also integrate quantitative results (statistically-oriented) with qualitative data (such as verbatim, voice-of-the-customer comments). In this way, the more scientific, quantitative data can be cross-referenced with qualitative data that "speaks" more to the heart.

Implementing EFM: Walk Before You Run (A Realistic Approach)

After gaining executive sponsorship, achievable initial steps might include the following.

Step 1: Begin Consolidating All Customer Feedback Sources

An important first step toward EFM is to combine customer feedback from retail units with company Web site feedback, online services feedback and central call center feedback. In the example shown (in Chart Two), customer feedback is also integrated with feedback from internal audits and third party "mystery shops," to provide a more complete picture. (Click on diagram to enlarge.)

Step 2: Begin integrating employee satisfaction surveys, and understanding linkages

The next logical step toward EFM is to make sure that employee feedback is solicited routinely and more frequently than once a year. (E.g. many companies are taking an employee pulse quarterly.) Employee feedback is then integrated with customer feedback to provide a more holistic view of the company. Ongoing analysis of linkages between employee satisfaction and customer loyalty is initiated.

Step 3: Begin to develop a more advanced EFM

Once the company has these basic processes in place (steps 1 and 2), additional inputs follow, such as integrating transactional and financial data, other kinds of feedback, more robust diagnostics (such as predictive analytics), and accountability and follow-up tools.

Turning Analytics into Actionable Data

EFM is not a "fad," a "thing" or a "system." It is a management process that enables organizations to collect feedback in real time through multiple channels and multiple data sources, consolidate feedback from customers, employees, and other stakeholders, integrate that feedback with other important financial and transactional data, use intelligent analytics to turn that data into actionable information, and distribute that information to the right person at the right time for follow up.

Enterprise Feedback Management is rapidly being adopted as a best practice among leading organizations and collecting, consolidating, and managing feedback from all sources and then urgently acting on that feedback is setting best-practice companies apart.

EFM is a part of how they do business every day.

First published on the Mindshare Web site.