Smaller vendors continue to push the envelope in the Web support category, but big vendors aren't slacking. With mobile and self-service increasing in importance, vendors of all sizes are making strides through new technologies and acquisitions to provide customers with the experience they want. Leaders in Web support have developed new solutions in key areas such as chat support and mobile app support.
Oracle Service Cloud impressed analysts with its Web self-service capabilities, which helped the company earn its high depth of functionality score (4.2). Jacobs says that Oracle "has a flexible, easily configurable customer service solution," and praised the vendor's omnichannel capabilities for B2C businesses. He also says that Oracle has a "strong cobrowse component," which he attributes to its 2014 LiveLOOK acquisition, and provides "solid chat, email response management, social customer service, and knowledge management." Updates to Service Cloud included Community Self-Service, an approach to Web self-service that enables businesses to connect Web service and community interactions.
Salesforce.com continues its year-after-year strong performance, with analysts praising both its B2B and B2C customer service solutions. According to Jacobs, Salesforce.com has "pushed itself into a leadership role in the customer service world over the past several years." Jacobs described Salesforce.com's ability to provide strong support for both B2B and B2C as a "tricky feat," and says that the vendor is "especially strong in emerging channels such as social customer service and chat tools." Additionally, the Sales Wave Analytics App and the Service Wave Analytics App contributed to the company's strong depth of functionality score (4.3), but Salesforce.com’s highest score, 4.4, came in company direction.
Analysts like TouchCommerce's actionable analytics and real-time customer targeting, which Jacobs says "makes the company a strong player in the prepurchase world." Jacobs also notes the vendor's expansion into the social realm, as well as its announced partnership with Nuance, which he believes will eventually deliver some form of virtual assistance. TouchSocial, one of the company's important recent launches, enables businesses to embed short links into social media posts that enable customers to initiate live chat sessions with product or customer service specialists.
On the leaderboard for the first time—it received One to Watch honors last year—Zendesk has impressed analysts over the past two years. The vendor made a big move in 2015 by integrating with Facebook Messenger, and Forrester analyst Ian Jacobs describes the vendor as having "a pioneering approach to embeddable technology." Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, says Zendesk "keeps gaining momentum as it goes upmarket," and described the vendor's BIME analytics acquisition as a "boon for customers seeking more native analytical capabilities."
Since acquiring Parature and jumping onto the leaderboard for the first time in this category last year, Microsoft has continued to impress analysts with its integration of Parature technology. The company unveiled a number of updates for Parature over the past year, including improvements to its engagement portal, its knowledge base search tools, and its language capabilities; it also made a foray into wearable apps with the introduction of its Parature app for Apple Watch. According to Jacobs, the cloud-based Parature solution is particularly well suited to departmental teams that need a service they can quickly deploy; he notes that this quick deployment ability is "critical for resource-strapped teams." At this point, Parature lacks comprehensive mobile support, Jacobs says; however, the introduction of the Parature app for Apple Watch suggests that Microsoft is making moves to ameliorate this shortcoming. Wang notes the importance of pairing Parature with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, saying that the latter "takes advantage of all the advanced technology goodies from Microsoft." Microsoft was particularly strong in depth of functionality (4.1) and company direction (4.4). Look for Microsoft to continue refining Parature's capabilities and integrating it with its other products.
ONE TO WATCH
After placing on the leaderboard last year, Moxie Software dropped to the One to Watch slot this year. Wang calls Moxie's shift in focus to digital engagement a "smart move," but he says, "Customers would prefer more capabilities out of the box instead of relying on custom services." Analysts noted that Moxie is particularly lacking in company direction. According to Jacobs, Moxie "provides strong mobile-first, omnichannel, and knowledge capability," yet lacks "a comprehensive network of global delivery—sales and support partners to extend its penetration much beyond North America."
[Editor's note: The overall award rating is based on a composite score of analyst ratings for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, company direction, and cost. For the cost score, analysts gave the highest marks to vendors with the lowest expected costs. Company revenues were also factored into the overall score, but these numbers are not included in the chart above.]