The 2015 CRM Service Leaders: Web Support
The past year has been a busy one for vendors in the Web support market. As large vendors continue to deepen integrations and expand functionality following a series of big acquisitions, smaller companies have sought to distinguish themselves with more finely tuned capabilities. "To compete with the big guys, companies have to focus on their best-of-breed technology," and the vendors on this year's leaderboard have been doing just that, says Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research. Self-service remains a key component of this category, as customers increasingly expect to find the product support they need without contacting a call center. Chat support and mobile app support are among the fastest-growing alternatives to the call center, and the leaders in this category provide some of the top chat and mobile solutions currently available, analysts agree.
On our leaderboard for the first time in this category, Microsoft impressed analysts with its integration of Parature technology after acquiring the company in January 2014. Just a year after the acquisition, Microsoft has rolled out an updated Parature Customer Care Solution and has not only improved existing capabilities, but included new features as well. Most notably, the new solution offers above-the-service-queue insights, which track and monitor self-support, equipping agents with a detailed view of what the customer has already tried on his own. Microsoft earned a 3.5 for depth of functionality, but Parature has been a "game-changing acquisition," one analyst says.
A consistent leader year after year, Moxie Software earned a 4.0 for its depth of functionality. According to Forrester analyst Kate Leggett, Moxie has "strong knowledge management capabilities" alongside a number of other solutions, including live chat, cobrowsing, and click-to-call. Moxie earned a 3.9 for overall company direction, yet despite its respectable score, Wang says the vendor is "in the middle of a transformation period as former TeaLeaf CEO Rebecca Ward deploys the Web support assets into their commerce products."
At Oracle OpenWorld in 2014, Chief Technology Officer Larry Ellison said Oracle was "getting serious about the cloud" and, so far, analysts are impressed: The Oracle Service Cloud earned a 4.2 for depth of functionality, scoring higher in that criterion than the other three leaders. However, its score for company direction, a 3.2, hurt the vendor. According to Wang, Oracle's InQuira product, which it has rebranded as Oracle Knowledge, is underutilized in the Oracle stack. "The product has some great capabilities that could be mashed up into other Oracle products," he says. Other analysts say that despite Oracle's commitment to the cloud, the company has a lot of catching up to do. Oracle may be "out of step with the market," Esteban Kolsky, founder and principal analyst at ThinkJar, says.
Salesforce.com wins this category for the fourth year in a row with scores of 4.1 for customer satisfaction and depth of functionality. According to Leggett, the vendor has "good depth and breadth of capabilities." Salesforce's highest score is a 4.3, which it earned for company direction. The company "has an aggressive vision for their products, and a partner ecosystem [AppExchange] to extend their footprint beyond CRM," Leggett says. At Dreamforce and on its Salesforce1 World Tour, the vendor unveiled a slew of updates, including a rebranding of its Service Cloud, which is now part of its Customer Success Platform. The revamped Service Cloud offers several new features, but one of the most exciting tools, analysts agree, is Salesforce's new Service Cloud SOS button. The SOS button can be added to any mobile app to enable live support on tap, which makes reaching a customer service rep straightforward and fast. Analysts also praise Salesforce for being receptive to criticism, and making improvements in its 2014 release. "New gamification capabilities via Badgeville, case management capabilities, and a better knowledge base [have addressed] customer complaints," Wang says.
One to Watch
Though Zendesk has primarily served small and midsized businesses, the vendor has recently added large enterprise customers to its client list, and now has a noteworthy presence on analysts' radar, according to Wang. Zendesk has also zeroed in on the importance of mobile app support, launching Zendesk Embeddables, which enable users to inject native customer support capabilities into their mobile apps, Web apps, Web sites, and games. According to Leggett, the company has broad mobile support capabilities and is growing rapidly.