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Contact Center Surveying and Analytics Solutions Are Coming on Strong 

Contact Center Surveying and Analytics Solutions Are Coming on Strong

Contact Center Surveying and Analytics Solutions Are Coming on Strong

DMG Consulting offers an overview of the contact center surveying and analytics market from its 2008 report, due out this month.

8/8/2008
By Donna Fluss
Customer Management Insight

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Nearly every senior executive would agree that the most effective way to find out what customers are thinking is to ask them. Talking directly with customers has always been a part of the senior executive’s role in an organization, albeit an informal one. Speaking to customers and soliciting their ideas and recommendations about current and new products is always a good idea, but enterprises need a formal process for collecting this information.

Market research, and surveying, in particular, has been around for a long time. However, it is only recently that highly effective tools and services have emerged to assist contact center managers with the task of asking customers about their experiences with the company, and then applying the analysis — both qualitative and quantitative — to help organizations determine what customers are really thinking.

THE SURVEYING MARKET

The surveying market is highly fragmented, but it can be segmented into four high-level groups:

Traditional Market Research Organizations

Along with traditional market research expertise, companies in this segment also offer broad surveying capabilities. They generally sell their services rather than products. Examples include Gallup, JD Power and Nielsen.

Basic Survey Tool Vendors

These organizations have developed survey technology. The products are easy-to-use, self-service tools that are usually inexpensive. They offer basic survey design and reporting but generally do not feature sophisticated statistical and analytics capability. Examples include SurveyMethods, SurveyMonkey and Zoomerang.

Contact Center Surveying and Analytics Offerings

Vendors in this segment offer surveying and analytics tools designed for use in contact centers (and often other parts of an organization). This category consists of product and services companies that enable IVR and Web-based surveys that include real-time reporting and sophisticated analytical capabilities, often integrated with contact center servicing solutions. Vendors include Allegiance, Autonomy/etalk, CFI Group, Customer Relationship Metrics, CustomerSat, Mindshare, Ransys, RightNow, Satmetrix, UCN, Verint, among others.

Consulting Organizations

These firms concentrate on providing strategic advice and ongoing guidance to their clients. They typically do not have survey technology, but instead create consulting engagements to develop highly customized software programs that are bundled with their services. Examples include Accenture, BearingPoint and Deloitte.

CONTACT CENTER SURVEYING AND ANALYTICS OFFERINGS

The contact center surveying and analytics segment includes a unique and complex set of vendors. These vendors offer solutions ranging from technology and services to a group that offers both products and services via newer delivery models, such as hosting and managed services.

There are four categories of vendors in this market segment: technology-enabled consulting services providers, software providers, hosted (Software as a Service, or SaaS) providers, and managed service providers.

Technology-Enabled Consulting Services Providers

These vendors provide consulting services that are supported by some surveying-related technology. A number of vendors in this category got their start in the surveying market doing primary research, employing idea factories or teams led by research scientists with doctoral degrees in survey research, statistical modeling and analytics.

The output of this research is usually a surveying methodology, data analysis algorithm, or an analytics and reporting portal. These vendors may also provide benchmarking services based on their store of surveying metrics and measures collected over a long period of time from various consulting engagements. In some cases, they may license a piece of the software they developed, or they may simply grant the purchaser the right to use the software they provide as long as there is also a contract for services.

Generally, vendors in this category derive greater than 70 percent of their revenues from the consulting services they provide around their intellectual property.

Software Providers

These vendors offer surveying software for purchase. They sell or, more specifically, license their software for on-premise implementations at client sites where the customer purchases a perpetual license and pays an annual maintenance fee. The customer is responsible for the technology infrastructure (hardware, tele­com­muni­cation, etc.) and the software implementation, including ongoing support and maintenance (upgrades), for the solution.

Vendors in this category generally derive approximately 70 percent of their revenues from software sales. Most of these vendors offer surveying professional services; for an additional fee, consultants assist the customer with the implementation or surveying process. However, the customer is responsible for technology implementation, survey administration, data collection and analysis.

Hosted (SaaS) Providers

In this model of software deployment, an application is delivered to customers over the Internet. Typically, the software utilizes a thin client application designed to operate either on a multi- or single-tenant delivery platform. The SaaS vendor may host the application on its own servers or utilize a third-party application service provider (ASP) to host the application for its customers.

SaaS vendors are characterized by subscription pricing sales models where they essentially “rent” their software for a fixed (renewable) period of time, such as monthly or annually. The value and benefit of the SaaS model is that both the software and hardware are the responsibility of the vendor, while the user enjoys the benefits of the rented software.

Similar to the software vendor category, hosted vendors have developed their survey software to be used with many survey methodologies; few hosted contact center surveying vendors, however, have unique methodologies. Generally, payment is based on utilization metrics, such as number of users or number of surveys offered. Customers typically pay the subscription fee to use software that is not physically located at any of their company locations, and, most often, the customer (as opposed to the vendor) is responsible for ongoing management of the solution. Subscribers are entitled to use the software, configure it and obtain periodic upgrades for as long as the subscription is renewed. Vendors may or may not offer professional services to supplement their technologies. Responsibility for implementation may be split between the vendor and the customer. The vendor is typically responsible for handling the software implementation, upkeep and maintenance of the survey application, while the customer is responsible for survey administration, data collection and analysis, as well as integration of the survey solution with their contact center servicing application.

Managed Service Providers

These vendors generally provide hardware, software and services, both technical and business operations management, in a bundled package. The contact center surveying software and services provided by these vendors are sometimes specific to a particular surveying methodology or may be designed to accommodate any methodology the user chooses.

Similar to SaaS providers, customers generally pay a monthly or annual fee to use the solution, which is typically provided and managed by the vendor. Most often, the vendor customizes the software to the specific business processes dictated by the customer.

Vendors in this category generally derive revenues that are equally split between the software and services they offer; most often, it is nearly impossible to separate the “software” from the “services” provided. Vendors in this category are fully responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the application, including integration with the user’s contact center servicing solutions. They also provide customers with services related to the solution, such as data collection, calibration and data analysis. In most cases, they are also responsible for implementing any business changes dictated by the analysis they provide. Users of surveying managed service offerings are responsible for reviewing and using the information derived from the surveying process. Data and additional information about surveys and responses are generally delivered via a reporting portal accessible via the Internet using a standard Web browser.

There is some overlap between SaaS and managed service providers, as most vendors in the latter category deliver their product via a hosted network. Care should be taken to fully understand what the ultimate responsibility of the vendor is, in order to determine which solution and delivery option may be best in a particular situation. See the figure below for DMG Consulting’s categorization of the contact center surveying and analytics vendors.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PROGRESS

The best way to know what your customers are thinking about your products and services is to ask them. And while it is important to speak to as many customers as possible, surveying provides a formal process and framework for collecting and analyzing data from customer evaluations of your enterprise.

During the last two years, there has been significant innovation in the contact center and enterprise surveying market. The number of vendor choices and the categories of their offerings continue to expand to suit a variety of business needs. The solutions are getting better and easier for customer service, sales and loyalty groups to use and apply. Product enhancements and new features and functionality are being introduced that are transforming the process of collecting, recording, analyzing and interpreting survey data from solicited (requested by a company) and unsolicited (volunteered by customers with no formal company request) feedback and comments.

New two-way communication channels and collaboration tools, such as company-sponsored, moderated, online community feedback and brainstorming solutions, are being introduced. Examples include CustomerVoice by Allegiance, Idea Networks by MarketTools and Adaptive Conversation by Satmetrix. These solutions actively engage customers and employees to provide unsolicited feedback and ideas. They facilitate community forums that help spot problems and cultivate an emotional connection between a company and its customers and employees through repeated conversations, experiences and interactions over time. When data from these informal forums is combined with feedback from formal survey programs, contact center managers learn what’s most important to their customers about their company.

Contact Center Surveying Vendor Categorization

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