Customer feedback management (CFM) vendor Medallia’s announcement of its intention to acquire customer journey orchestration (CJO) vendor Thunderhead is an expected response to the Qualtrics acquisition of Usermind last year. As my colleague Joana de Quintanilha writes in her blog, customer journey orchestration platforms have been a hot commodity of late. The acquisitions of Usermind and Thunderhead by CFM vendors, as well as that of Kitewheel by CSG and Pointillist by Genesys, reflect the diverse uses of CJO platforms for both customer experience (CX) as well as contact center, marketing, and real-time interaction management — an angle my colleague Rusty Warner discusses more in his blog.

CFM platform vendors serve the entire enterprise with comprehensive solutions through a robust set of voice-of-the-customer (VoC) capabilities that includes feedback collection, integration of feedback with other data in a centralized data hub, analysis, reporting, and closed-loop action management. The addition of Thunderhead has the potential to help current and prospective Medallia clients accelerate their VoC program maturity by helping them uncover and orient around customer journeys alongside traditional customer feedback collection and analysis.

The move comes with some questions, however:

  • How will Thunderhead be integrated? Reference clients for The Forrester Wave™: Customer Feedback Management Platforms, Q2 2021 expressed skepticism about how Medallia’s new acquisitions would be integrated. The Thunderhead announcement is the latest of a dizzying number of Medallia acquisitions in the past 18 months, including digital experience platform Decibel, contact center coaching and quality management platform Stella Connect, and speech-to-text platform Voci Technologies. For clients to fully realize the benefits of these offerings, Medallia will need to focus on enabling data integration and analysis in a seamless and user-friendly way.
  • Will the integrated offering help bridge organizational silos? CX pros struggle to get buy-in from across the organization. A customer journey approach requires both a cultural and operational shift from focusing on listening and measurement in specific channels — such as the contact center or website — to looking at customer journeys that cut across organizational silos. CX and marketing may also bring different perspectives about what the next best experience should be. For example, a tailored advertisement might not be what a customer-centric journey would suggest. Navigating these cultural and operational differences will be key to taking a true customer journey approach.
  • Are brands ready to embrace (and pay for) a journey approach? While we recommend that clients strive for a customer journey approach, only 50% of VoC and CX measurement programs are measuring CX or collecting feedback at the journey level. This lack of maturity means brands might be slow to embrace an expanded offering from CFM vendors if the new technology is also driving up the price.

Do you have questions about this acquisition or about what’s next in customer feedback management and VoC? I look forward to sharing more in my research and discussions with Forrester clients via inquiry.