I don’t love the name enterprise feedback management (EFM) to describe the technologies that enable voice of the customer (VoC) programs. It’s just not sexy. Unfortunately, it still accurately represents what vendors in the space actually do. As my colleague Roxie Strohmenger and I explained in a March 1st report: “We believe EFM still accurately represents the category. Why? Because 1) the vendors are still primarily focused on feedback as their primary data source, and 2) managing that feedback extends to the various analytical, alerting, and reporting activities that they pursue beyond just supporting survey processes.”

Since then, we’ve been knee-deep in EFM solutions, preparing for a Forrester Wave due out this summer. The experience has totally validated our earlier decision. Here’s a brief explanation:

Enterprise: The vendors pull together data from across an organization, from contact center to web, store, and social. Many also incorporate data from noncustomers, such as prospects and employees. In other words, they provide enterprise solutions. Check.

Feedback: It’s widely accepted that feedback includes more than numerical survey responses. It includes unstructured and unsolicited feedback too. Many EFM vendors also go beyond what we typically regard as feedback by incorporating transactional and operational data. But their solutions are totally built around feedback. Other data is treated practically as feedback, and it’s used to put feedback into context. Check.

Management: EFM solutions do lots of things with data. They analyze it, create role-based reports, alert employees to follow up with customers, and enable employees to track cases. But the solutions themselves don’t act. They enable action through good data and case management. Check.

Of course, EFM won’t be around forever. In the same report referenced above, I described two key trends that will blow up this space over the next five years: Larger technology players will enter the market; EFM will coalesce with customer and business intelligence. We’re just not there yet.