The 2012 Rising Stars

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Any business that has survived—and even grown—in the past year's difficult economic climate deserves recognition and no less than a few kudos.

The companies we honor this year have done that and then some, by helping their clients improve customer service in various ways. One of the main factors that makes them stand out is that they have all successfully filled a customer service void.

Understanding social media and their customers' relationship with it has been key to this achievement. Knowing what social channels their customers utilize and establishing a presence there is only part of their success. Another is integrating social media into their core technologies, which include a voice-of-the-customer solution, two business process applications, multichannel support applications (via email, Web sites, and contact centers), improved cloud services, and an "instant self-service e-commerce application."

Meeting—and exceeding—customer needs comes from within, and moving from a silo mentality to one focused on the enterprise is another area the vendors we've selected excel at. By increasing communication among departments, our winners have developed a complete picture of their customers, enabling them to serve them more efficiently. By keeping their "eyes on the prize—or more applicably, the enterprise," as one of our writers states, these cutting-edge companies have proven that they have the strength to survive in today's fragile business environment.

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