CRM Service Awards: Service Leaders

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Customer Case Management

The Market

Customer case management has continued to evolve as more companies want—and need—comprehensive ways to manage their customer support life cycles. "Certainly we're seeing the arrival of mobile access to case management as a necessary-to-have as opposed to a nice-to-have," remarks Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research.

In addition, vendors that seamlessly integrate social support capabilities, along with mobile, will offer the most productivity gains. If a company has "poor" case management practices, the evidence is that much more amplified and "more visible to the broader social community," Wettemann adds. Companies are expected to do it all—from managing traditional support channels, such as the telephone, to monitoring customer communities—all while finding a way to bridge support channels while keeping customer communications in context.

The Leaders

Microsoft Dynamics CRM came in as one of the most cost-effective solutions, earning a 3.9 in the deployment cost criteria. Its score for company direction, 3.7, was among the highest, with analysts praising its "investment in usability." According to Wettemann, "Having an intuitive user environment…integrated with email and other communication channels is really important, [and Microsoft has taken] significant steps to increase the depth and breadth" of its case management functionality.

Eyes were on Oracle following its acquisition of cloud customer service provider RightNow Technologies last year, and this year, the acquisitions continued. Oracle's snap-up of Collective Intellect will enable companies to monitor, analyze, and respond to consumer conversations on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Oracle also released Oracle Knowledge 8.5 to bring enterprise data insights to online customer communities, and agent-assisted and Web self-service interactions. AnswerFlow for Contact Centers in the Knowledge 8.5 product gives agents automated guidance on issue resolution, and is integrated with Siebel and Oracle CRM OnDemand. Oracle Siebel has "exhaustive and mature case management capabilities with vertical support for case management processes by industry," says Kate Leggett, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

Parature was another strong performer. Though its customer satisfaction score dipped slightly, from 4.1 last year to 3.8, John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association, calls Parature an "increasingly sophisticated suite." This year, it released Parature Social Monitor, a social media monitoring and response product available within Parature's broader Customer Service Suite. Parature says its multichannel platform allows agents to manage phone, email, social, and Web customer correspondences all in one place. Parature added mobile customer support capabilities with its Parature for Mobile product, making it "a very good acquisition target for one of the bigger players, both because of the breadth of its customer base and the development they've done around social and mobile," Wettemann says.

The Winner

Hats off to Salesforce.com, our category champion for the second year straight. As Leggett puts it, Salesforce.com has "a [visionary] road map for all customer touchpoints." The company's customer satisfaction score increased from 3.9 to 4.1 this year, and it continued to dazzle analysts with its solution scope. Salesforce.com continued its streak of acquisitions this year, with a $70 million acquisition of GoInstant, a cobrowsing solution that lets multiple users browse the Web together in customer support or e-commerce cases. Company direction remained steady at 4.4, the highest ranking in the category. Salesforce.com announced its launch of Chatter Communities for Service, bringing together Web self-service and peer-to-peer community functionality amid a flurry of features and updates announced at this year's Dreamforce conference. At year's end, Salesforce.com was on target to reach $3 billion in revenue.

One to Watch

Although SugarCRM did not score as high as some of the leaderboard contenders, it had a solid tally of 3.9 for cost, which cannot be ignored. As more companies need and want affordable and comprehensive ways to service their customers, SugarCRM has a fighting chance in the future. SugarCRM narrowly edged out Pegasystems as our One to Watch this year, and earned a score of 3.7 for company direction because of its "good, solid road map," as Leggett puts it.

Contact Center Infrastructure

The Market

Social media has forever changed the contact center infrastructure (CCI) market, with many vendors still scrambling to add social media monitoring, routing, and response capabilities to their existing platforms.

Vendors have also been forced to adopt the hosted model, particularly as the economy continues to languish. Companies that needed contact center infrastructure but did not want to make large expenditures realized there were more benefits than challenges. DMG Consulting expects the rapid adoption to continue.

During the past three years, adoption has nearly tripled. DMG estimates that at least 18.1 percent of all contact center seats will be in the cloud by the end of 2015. Current estimates put cloud-based contact center seats at 5.9 percent.

And then there is a push to support mobile technologies, making it possible for customers to communicate with companies as easily via mobile phones as with their landline phones.

The growth in social, mobile, and cloud solutions comes at a time when the overall CCI market is in decline, reports Infonetics Research. "The tough economic climate has slowed upgrades, with businesses holding onto existing platforms," says Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP, unified communications, and information management systems at Infonetics. The firm does, however, expect the market to rebound this year.

The Leaders

Avaya, which has long held the largest market share in the industry, lost ground to Cisco Systems, with some analysts viewing it as a laggard in the area of cloud-based solutions. Despite this, it still finished with a 4.2 score in depth of functionality.

Many analysts approached Avaya with caution, especially with regard to its company direction (where it scored a mere 3.5) as it works to realign its contact center portal with customer needs. "They should be doing a lot better than they are, but they're so deep in debt that it seems they've taken their eye off the prize," states Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research.

Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics, says that 2013 "needs to be a year of innovation" for Avaya.

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories came out from under the Alcatel-Lucent umbrella in late 2011 ready to redefine its market position. Following some key additions and integrations, including tie-ins with Deutsche Telekom and Klout, and the addition of a Genesys One platform, mobile platform, and orchestration tools, the company's depth of functionality score of 4.4 put it once again on the leaderboard. It also pulled in scores of 4.1 and 4.0 in company direction and customer satisfaction, respectively. Execution and delivering on its promises needs to be the main focus in 2013, McGee-Smith says.

By all accounts, Interactive Intelligence had a successful 2012, releasing updates to its flagship Customer Interaction Center platform, Interaction Mobilizer, and predictive dialer software; launching mobile and hosted apps; and announcing key integrations with Oracle and Microsoft. But this wasn't enough to keep it at the top. Still a leader in company direction and customer satisfaction, with scores of 4.3 and 4.1, respectively, its other numbers fell slightly. Its score of 3.9 in depth of functionality is sure to rise next year."I expect analytics, based on the acquisition of Bay Bridge, to be a key driver in 2013," McGee-Smith says.

The Winner

Cisco Systems reprises its spot at the top of the market this year, largely on the strength of its depth of functionality—the company scored a 4.3. It also raked in a score of 4.2 in company direction. "Cisco is a model of stability in this highly volatile industry segment," Stockford explains, identifying the company with "solid management, solid products, [and] the most for the technology dollar."

John Ragsdale, vice president of technology research at the Technology Services Industry Association, credits the company with "an innovative approach" that brings video into the telephony arena.

One to Watch

LiveOps, a contact center outsourcing provider, only recently built out a contact center solution for its customers, and analysts have taken notice. Its greatest strength, according to analysts, is cost, where the company's score of 3.9 took the top spot among all vendors considered. The company was also among the top-five finishers in depth of functionality, direction, and customer satisfaction.

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