I recently wrote a post called Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Is Dead that reiterated a point that I made in a Temkin Group report last September: EFM is an outdated term. I coined the term Customer Insight and Action (CIA) platforms as a better description of where these platforms (and the companies that use them) are heading.

My point on all of this is simple: If you don’t understand where things are heading, then you are destined to fall behind. Managing feedback is becoming a commodity, so customer experience professionals and vendors need to build a broader set of capabilities to support more extensive voice of the customer (VoC) programs.

Neil Davey at MyCustomer.com wrote a nice article called Enterprise feedback management: Dead or alive? that weaves together a pro vs con discussion with different industry analysts about the terms “EFM” and “CIA.” Here are the answers that I gave to his questions:


Question: Why is ‘enterprise feedback management’ an outdated/outmoded area in your opinion? Why/how will CIA platforms replace EFM?

My response: Companies with leading-edge voice of the customer programs are getting well past the legacy of managing surveys, which has been the essence of Enterprise Feedback Management platforms. Success comes from taking action on insights that include, but are not in any way limited to, survey responses. As a matter of fact, some of the key insights about customers will come from looking at things that aren’t necessarily direct feedback — like customer transaction patterns or calls into the call center. So successful companies won’t be managing feedback to the enterprise, they will be taking action based on customer insights.


Question: There seems to be support in some quarters for keeping the EFM moniker, even if the applications change to become very different from what originally represented EFM. Why would the market/businesses benefit from EFM making way for a new term such as CIA? 

My response: You can continue to refer to a car as a “horse and buggy” but it doesn’t make it an accurate description. I think that people need to let go of the past and understand that the future for EFM platforms is quite different than their heritage of helping market research groups managing surveys. I think that the next generation of enabling technology, Customer Insight and Action (CIA) platforms, will have a dramatic affect on the competitiveness of organizations.


Question: What are your thoughts on the suggestion that creating another acronym will cause more confusion in the market?

My response: Confusion is often the first step towards enlightenment. Practitioners that continue to operate as if there is long-term value in using EFM platforms to manage their survey programs will find themselves looking extremely outdated compared with more enlightened practitioners. EFM vendors that don’t recognize that they are part of a larger and evolving CIA platform market will find themselves blindsided by vendors like IBM, SAP, Salesforce.com, and SAS who are already noticing where this is heading. So if some confusion forces people to rethink their strategy, then it is well worth it.


Question: Ultimately, how do you expect this to pan out – are you expecting the market to embrace another label or will it prefer to stick with EFM, even if it bears little resemblance to the original EFM? And why do you believe it will pan out this way?

My response: My ultimate goal with this discussion has nothing to do with the name of the platforms. There are some significant changes coming to business practices and technology that will allow companies to more dramatically tap into customer insights. My goal is to help companies understand those changes and to thrive in the future. If they are prepared for those changes, then I don’t care if they call these platforms “EFM,” CIA,” or anything else.

No matter what term you choose to use, one thing is very clear: companies are much more likely to succeed if they focus on customer insight and action than if they focus on enterprise feedback management.


The bottom line: Let go of EFM and head to CIA no matter which term you use

This blog post was originally published by Temkin Group prior to its acquisition by Qualtrics in October 2018.