NICE Acquires Fizzback, EFM/VoC Industry Consolidation Heats Up


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This week, contact center analytics vendor NICE acquired VoC/EFM provider Fizzback for about $80M. The transaction should close in October, according to Anna Convery, VP of Global Strategic Marketing at NICE.

Fizzback is a U.K.-based company that has kept a pretty low profile here in the U.S., although they have been expanding into North America and Asia according to Convery. Still, the company has some very impressive (and customer-centric) clients like O2, TESCO and T-Mobile. With a little help from NICE, Fizzback should have an easier time penetrating the U.S. market which has a number of strong EFM/VoC vendors.

I’m pleased to see this acquisition because it’s further evidence of the mainstreaming of VoC programs, which should become an integral part of a customer-centric enterprise and not a standalone activity. As I chronicled in my recent article on Next-Generation Voice of Customer Command Center, there are six dimensions of customer feedback, including structured (surveys, churn signals, web activity) and unstructured (text, speech, social). Industry leaders will do the best job of analyzing insight from all relevant channels and — here’s the important part — ACTING swiftly to deal with customer issues.

Said another way, enterprises need to listen with all their senses and not depend solely on surveys, which has been the hallmark of so-called Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM). A true next-generation VoC approach must be multi-channel, multi-media, and as real-time as possible. While there’s still a vital role for relationship surveys, it’s critical to capture feedback near the “moment of truth” and make it as convenient as possible for the customer.

This diagram from Fizzback provides a good overview of the company’s approach.

Source: Fizzback
Source: Fizzback

But, you could draw a similar diagram for most of the EFM solutions in the market. What’s unique about Fizzback, according to Convery, is the use of Natural language Processing (NLP) to creative dynamic interactive dialogs which get a much higher response rate. Conventional surveys might get response rates of 10% or less, but Fizzback’s approach can get up to 50% of customers to respond, Convery claims.

I haven’t seen how this works personally, but conceptually I can see how a VoC process could drive higher response rates if it’s more personalized to the individual. I’m more likely to give feedback when it’s easy, only relevant questions are asked, and I can contribute in whatever format is most comfortable to me.

NICE expands CEM portfolio

This acquisition takes NICE another step towards its vision of a “complete Customer Experience Management offering” to “capture and act on the customer’s real-time Voice of the Customer (VoC) solution.”

And, it’s further evidence of industry consolidation I’ve been expecting. Verint recently acquired Vovici, and I expect that we’ll see more M&A activity in the coming months. It’s a sign that VoC is coming of age, and buyers increasingly will want to engage with a larger vendor ($1B+ in sales) rather than buying EFM point solutions.

However, as I said in my article, “some assembly required” will be the norm for quite some time. Large enterprises will need to integrate solutions from multiple vendors, but as time goes on it will be easier to buy more of the solution from one-stop shop contact center vendors like NICE or Verint, or perhaps IBM for more custom VoC solutions.

Caution: VoC is not just about experience

This year CEM is the hot topic. I’m seeing a lot of activity from vendors after a few years of CEM being viewed mainly as a methodology. VoC programs are often attached to CEM these days, and it’s certainly a better positioning than CRM.

But let’s not confuse positioning with reality. Customers don’t just give feedback on experiences. They can also comment on product quality issues, pricing, or whatever they like. So VoC should be thought of in the context of the entire customer value proposition, not just experience.

Further reading:
* Does CEM Need a Technology Platform?
* The Next-Generation Voice of Customer Command Center: Tool Time for Chief Customer Officers
* “Social CRM” is Dead, Long Live the Social Customer Experience
* A NICE Time to Focus on Customer Experience Analytics
* Time to Harmonize Your Cross-Channel Customer Experience

Disclosure: This post is part of my independent coverage of industry developments and is not an endorsement of NICE or its products/services. NICE recently hired me to speak about multi-channel customer experience at a series of executive meetings.


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