As customer experience remains one of the top priorities for modern companies, customer case management technologies, which Gartner recently identified as an $8 billion market opportunity, remain vital resources. These solutions, which help companies create and manage customer case files, have been expanded to help agents actually solve problems for customers while engaging them on the digital channels of their choice. The major players in the enterprise space are now incorporating artificial intelligence to help live agents predict what customers want before the customers themselves are aware of it.
Microsoft reorganized its offerings from Dynamics CRM and Parature under one brand, Microsoft Dynamics 365, which moves forward with great promise, landing a high score in company direction (3.9). Mitch Kramer, senior vice president and analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group, says the company’s strategy is coherent, as it has “collected all of the high-end apps, offering cloud deployment and including new and useful technologies” such as artificial intelligence (AI). Microsoft also scored well in depth of functionality (3.6). Each of the products the vendor releases have published road maps, and improvements are regular and continual, says Kramer. According to Ian Jacobs, a senior analyst at Forrester, the vendor “continues a sharp focus on usability and rapid time to proficiency.” Additionally, it has “strong vertical plays, including in key customer service markets such as financial services and retail,” Jacobs says.
Oracle holds its spot on the board, largely by virtue of its Service Cloud’s depth of functionality; it scored higher in this area (4.1) than all of its competitors. Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, cautions, though, that its “integrations are not sufficiently broad nor deep within Oracle’s CX portfolio.” Jacobs says that “while every customer service vendor considers [the Internet of Things] a huge opportunity, Oracle has taken real strides to make IoT support and field service part of a holistic experience.”
Verint Systems (Kana) makes its mark on the leaderboard, yet again. It earned its highest score in depth of functionality (3.8). “Kana has a strong product,” Leggett says, “yet suffers from a small system integrator network and a lower profile compared to other industry stalwarts.” Jacobs says that a focus on complex service processes still sets Kana apart. “There has been some turbulence in the customer base, but the product strategy still looks very good,” he states.
Zendesk makes the leaderboard again this year, in spite of a low rating in depth of functionality. It did earn a high mark in cost (4.1), however. Kramer points out that the product is available at five pricing tiers, beginning at $5 and going up to $199 per user a month. Customers benefit from self-service deployments that don’t require consulting services. He notes that Zendesk’s products feature “good depth for an SMB offering.” The company, Kramer adds, is “committed to expanding the breadth and depth of its customer service offerings and penetrating the high-end market.” Jacobs lauds the vendor for being “extremely ambitious and competitive.” He points out that the company is “looking at some intriguing technology areas, such as satisfaction prediction, extending customer service beyond the post-purchase break/fix model, and embedding customer service into mobile and web experiences.”
Salesforce.com holds the winner’s spot for the second year running, maintaining strong scores in company direction (4.4) and customer satisfaction (4.0). It continues to “shine as a customer company,” Leggett says. She notes that the Service Cloud is maturing, though its field service capabilities remain nascent. “The product is bolstered by strong system integrator relationships, a large developer network, and a very broad marketplace via its AppExchange, all of which increase its market penetration,” she says. Jacobs agrees, noting that Salesforce has “made all the right moves to appeal to larger contact centers,” focusing on scalability, differentiated support programs for large customers, and a strong push to get systems integrators on board with the platform. “These moves are clearly paying off,” Jacobs says. “The recent partnership with Cisco also shows huge promise.”
ONE TO WATCH
PegaSystems emerged this year as the one to watch, earning good marks in functionality (3.6) and in company direction and customer satisfaction (3.5). While Pega struggles with cost, Leggett maintains that it has “very strong business process and case management capabilities, which are used to orchestrate the end-to-end customer journey in real time, across communication channels, with predictive analytics for next-best-action capabilities.”
[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.]