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November 05, 2014

Wheelings & Dealings: Customer Feedback Company Allegiance Combines with Maritz Research to Form New Customer Experience Giant

By Paula Bernier
Executive Editor, TMC

The new focus on customer experience already has led to numerous mergers and acquisitions in this arena. To date, much of that M&A activity has involved CRM and other database giants snapping up specialists in such areas as marketing automation. But today a new company called MaritzCX – which is a combination of voice of the customer/customer survey outfit Allegiance (News - Alert) and customer experience research firm Maritz Research – makes its debut.

MaritzCX is now the largest pure play customer experience provider by far, with nearly $200 million in annual revenue, 500 clients in 100 countries, and significant venture capital funds, Chris Cottle, executive vice president of marketing at the former Allegiance, told TMCnet in a briefing yesterday. Medallia, with annual revenues of about $70 million, ranks second, Cottle said, adding that MaritzCX is larger than the market’s second and third players combined.

The creation of MaritzCX involved the acquisition of Allegiance (for an unclosed sum) by Maritz Research parent company Maritz Holdings Inc., which combined its research business unit with the acquired company and spun it off into its own entity. The resulting company, MaritzCX, is headquartered in Utah and headed up by Carine Clark, who until yesterday was president and CEO of Allegiance.

Allegiance and Maritz Research have been partners for a couple years and decided to take their relationship to the next level after Allegiance noticed that the requests for proposals it was responding to consistently were asking for an integrated customer experience partner that deliver managed services, research, and technology, and that had expertise in key verticals, Cottle said. Allegiance, he continued, noticed that no one in the CRM, EFM, marketing platform, or market research space was positioned to deliver on that.

MaritzCX brings together the software-as-a-service voice of the customer platform and engineering talent of Allegiance – a venture backed company that also brought to the table 130 employees, two offices in the U.S., and some well-known clients – along with the research know-how, significant engineering resources, and vertical industry expertise of Maritz Research, Cottle said.

The former Maritz Research was, of course, well know as a research company, he added, but the business also had (and now under MaritzCX has) a strong group of engineers that have been delivering customer software for a long time, he said. One goal of MaritzCX is to move customers away from custom software and on to the Allegiance platform, which relies on a single code base. (This SaaS (News - Alert)-based platform, by the way, will retain the Allegiance name.)

Many of the world’s largest companies already use solutions from both parts of the new company. That list includes Activision, Bank of America, Dell (News - Alert), Ford, Pfizer, Redbox, and T-Mobile. Speaking of Ford, Cottle adds that Maritz Research has been particularly successful with the automotive vertical.

The market target for MaritzCX is mid-sized to large enterprises both in the U.S. and abroad.

In fact, the new company is pushing further global expansion. As part of the effort, MaritzCX expects to hire new engineering personnel in the Asia Pacific, Europe, and the U.S. MaritzCX is also looking at potential future acquisitions, although Cottle wouldn’t specify what geographic or product portfolio gaps it aims to fill.

However, the goal is to move clients away from a scenario in which they have to choose from an array of disconnected point solutions and toward more unified solutions offered through a single partner.

CRM companies like (News - Alert) appear to be taking a similar tact. But building off CRM to create a broader customer experience solution doesn’t make a lot of sense, Cottle opined, because CRM is basically a sales tool and database for emailing things, and when it comes to really understanding customers, CRM systems “come up incredibly short.”

That’s why specialized customer experience platforms like the one Allegiance has built have been garnering a lot of money, he said. Indeed, Allegiance itself was VC backed, and in August Medallia announced it had received a $50 million investment from Sequoia Capital (News - Alert)

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