Seven Top Innovating CRM Companies for 2020: The CRM Rising Star Awards

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We’ve all come to consider disruption a positive thing, but the kind of disruption 2020 has brought so far is something else entirely. This makes the innovation sparked by our seven Rising Stars all the more impressive. These vendors have helped businesses persevere in challenging times, whether by offering AI-powered chatbots to help carry the customer service load; all-in-one marketing platforms that enable companies to run coordinated, omnichannel campaigns; or videoconferencing software that allows sales reps to connect with prospects and each other. Read on for more exciting breakthroughs below. --the Editors

Founded in 2015 to automate repetitive customer service processes, Kustomer has experienced a great deal of growth this past year, securing a slate of highly recognizable companies as customers and in December bringing in $60 million in funding. The company provides its users with a deep level of service automation by applying analytics and artificial intelligence to data from multiple sources. Its platform is hosted on Amazon Web Services and enables users to search, display, and report on customer attributes, orders, feedback scores, shipping, tracking, web events, and other factors. The technology also uses all of this information to provide agents with context and highlight key data to use during customer interactions. Plus, the platform helps build shortcuts that let agents respond quickly. Read more here.

From its headquarters in New York, LivePerson has carved out quite a niche for itself in the areas of conversational commerce and artificial intelligence. In 2018, it introduced its AI offering, allowing customers to create AI-powered chatbots to answer consumer messages alongside human customer service staff. This year, the company, which was founded in 1995, really jumped ahead of its peers with the release of Conversational Cloud, a software platform that allows companies to build and run AI-powered automations over popular messaging channels such as SMS, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, Google RCS, LINE, WeChat, and native messaging on websites and mobile apps. Read more here.

Though its original product offering focused on sales development, Atlanta-based SalesLoft has expanded its platform to offer functionality for the entire sales organization. Those efforts were bolstered in November when it acquired Costello, a provider of opportunity management software with quick deal updates, guided selling playbooks, pipeline collaboration, and real-time sync to CRM systems. With the acquisition of Costello, SalesLoft expanded its user base to revenue professionals at all levels, including sales development reps, account executives, and sales leaders. SalesLoft, which was founded in 2011, wasted no time incorporating Costello’s technology into its own offerings, and in February it unveiled SalesLoft Opportunity Management to help sales professionals generate pipeline, manage deals and forecasts, and engage customers from first contact through closing, onboarding, expansion, and renewal. Read more here.

New York-based Sprinklr develops cloud-based customer experience management platforms. Since its early days in late 2009 and 2010, it has had the unique vision of a unified front office, and this year, it has taken aggressive steps to expand that notion to far more channels, devices, and platforms. Just last month, it launched Sprinklr Community, allowing companies to provide a self-service, trusted online forum for customers to ask questions, share ideas, and solve support issues. Also new to the Sprinklr stable is AI-Powered Smart Response Recommendations for customer care and Smart Response Compliance for brand engagement, which the company released in late 2019. Read more here.

Terminus Software, a pioneer in the account-based marketing (ABM) space, this year made several key acquisitions that have caused the CRM industry to take notice. With a new CEO and executive chairman at the helm in Tim Kopp, the Atlanta-based company in December acquired Sigstr, a fellow ABM vendor. The addition of Sigstr is helping Terminus, which was founded in 2014, create an end-to-end account-centric marketing platform based on intent, engagement, and relationship data. With the combined solutions, revenue teams can determine their best-fit segments, use relationship intelligence to identify priority accounts, align account-centric messaging across the entire customer life cycle, identify next best actions for execution, and integrate employee email marketing into account-based programs to unlock a new channel of engagement for target accounts. Read more here.

Founded in 2013, Voximplant quickly became a trailblazer in the cloud-based communications platform market with products that enable companies to bring voice, text, and video chat to their websites and mobile apps. The ambitious startup provides the required infrastructure and tools that are currently handling hundreds of millions of calls per year. Now, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is aggressively pursuing expansion. Voximplant, which grew out of the remnants of Zingaya, a web telephony service provider, recently secured $10 million in funding to advance that expansion. Even before launching that effort, though, the company was already making huge waves in a crowded communications platform market. Read more here.

Zoom Video Communications, a communications technology company headquartered in San Jose, Calif., provides video telephony and online chat services through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform. The company was founded in 2011 to offer teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education, and social relations, but for many, it has become the preeminent means of staying in touch during the COVID-19 lockdowns, an unrivaled tool for business continuity. “The COVID-19 crisis has driven higher demand for distributed, face-to-face interactions and collaboration using Zoom. Use cases have grown rapidly as people integrated Zoom into their work, learning, and personal lives,” said Eric Yuan, founder and CEO of Zoom. Read more here.

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