The 2018 CRM Service Leaders: Customer Case Management

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THE MARKET

With customer case management becoming more important than ever, competition in this category is increasingly tight. A recent Harvard Business Review study showed that when companies respond to consumers’ reviews online, even if they’re negative, their reputation improves. When HBR analyzed TripAdvisor’s reviews, for example, it found that one-third of hotels increased their ratings by at least half a star within six months of their first management response. But can companies scale these crucial responses and effectively manage customers’ other issues, regardless of their preferred channel? Today the answer is yes, thanks to artificial intelligence, automation, and other new-age technology from the players in this space.

THE LEADERS

With its powerful Service Cloud, Oracle continues to be a viable leader this year, though it earned a slightly lower score for depth of functionality than it did last year—3.9 versus 4.1. It’s all relative, however; while Oracle customers continue to praise its depth of functionality, its case management offering is simply not as robust as Microsoft’s, Kana’s, or Pegasystems’, according to Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. Customers are also holding Oracle to the integration promises it has made in recent years, and for the time being, “integrations are not sufficiently broad nor deep within Oracle’s CX portfolio,” Leggett adds.

Last year’s One to Watch, Pegasystems makes it onto our leaderboard this year, largely due to a solid 4.1 score in depth of functionality. “Pega 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,” according to Leggett. Overall, the company is “always a leader in process-oriented CRM,” adds John Ragsdale, vice president of technology and social research at the Technology Services Industry Association. 

Salesforce.com continues to shine as a “customer company,” Leggett says, though it was unable to defend last year’s title as the category winner, as Salesforce’s lofty price tag kept it from the top spot. Nevertheless, the Salesforce Service Cloud is maturing, and with a score of 4.3 for company direction, it has a promising future. “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,” Leggett says. 

Zendesk makes it onto the leaderboard once more this year, earning an impressive 4.2 in company direction and a 4.1 in customer satisfaction. “Zendesk offers an excellent interface that users love, and its customer success team is invested in achieving customer outcomes,” Ragsdale, says. Plus, its affordability—the company earned a 4.3 in cost—makes it appealing for companies of all sizes. “Zendesk’s straightforward case management is suitable for midmarket companies or enterprises with simple processes,” Leggett explains.

THE WINNER

Microsoft emerges as our winner this year, improving its scores in all but one category. The company received strong scores in depth of functionality and company direction (both 4.0) as well as cost (4.1). Its Dynamics 365 solution is only getting stronger as Microsoft bolsters it with artificial intelligence and conversational tools. “This is just the beginning of a complete new journey of building AI-first business applications,” CEO Satya Nadella said at Microsoft’s 2017 Envision/Ignite user conference. “We’re really looking forward to the next year, where we take this module and scale it out in your businesses and learn from it and have it go to all the other areas of your operations.” Microsoft’s customer satisfaction score of 3.6 could use improvement, but the company is on the right track. “Microsoft is increasingly seeing adoption by larger companies and rapidly expanding its ecosystem,” Ragsdale says. 

ONE TO WATCH

Verint Systems (Kana) slips off the leaderboard this year, largely due to a disappointing 3.3 in customer satisfaction. Its outdated user experience is a problem, says Mike Fauscette, chief research office at G2 Crowd. And, though Verint has what Leggett calls “a strong product,” she says one of its biggest problems is a fairly limited systems integrator network and a lower profile. Nevertheless, Verint has its strengths; it is “great at multichannel [customer case management] with embedded knowledge,” according to Ragsdale.


[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.]

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