Richard Snow's Analyst Perspectives

SugarCRM Stays True to Its Vision

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 10, 2016 7:03:50 AM

In the late 1990s, CRM systems were launched to help organizations become customer-centric, to manage customer relationships from end to end, through marketing to sales to customer service, and to provide a “360-degree view of the customer.” For a variety of reasons (overselling, lack of proper adoption, missing functionality), they never lived up to many companies’ expectations, and so CRM got a poor reputation. I recently wrote that customer experience management has undergone significant change in the last 18 months, taking over the role of helping organizations become customer-centric, and that CRM vendors have played a part in these changes. Some of the larger ones have, in my view, taken a backward step by breaking CRM into three components to support marketing, sales and customer service; this makes it harder to support the end-to-end customer life cycle.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience Management, Call Cente, cloud computing, Customer Service, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, omnichannel, analytics

NGData Delivers DNA on Customers

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 9, 2016 7:11:35 AM

During a recent briefing with NGData, I was initially put off by excessive “marketing speak.” The team began by describing its product, Lily Enterprise, as a “customer experience operating system.” Being used to having operating systems run entire computers, I wasn’t sure what this meant. This term was followed by a statement that NGData’s products help companies transition from being “B2C to C2B,” that is, to put the customer first, an idea that has been around for several years but in my experience few companies achieve. One of the biggest challenges in this regard is that most companies are organized into business groups, and each business group typically has its own processes, systems and metrics, a situation that makes it hard to have a single view of the customer and take actions based on the same customer view, and which lends itself to focusing on internal goals, not the customer. As an example, our research into next-generation customer engagement shows three key impediments to delivering exceptional customer experiences: systems that are not integrated (for 49% of organizations), communication channels managed as silos (47%) and customers receiving inconsistent responses at different touch points. The root cause of all these is data – customer data. Organizations have multiple systems that generate customer data, in multiple forms: for example, structured data in CRM and ERP systems, voice recordings, text data from multiple sources (letters, email, Web scripts, text messages, chat scripts and social media posts), video and event data such as a customer downloading a film. With so much data in so many formats, it is hard for companies to generate a single, “360 degree” view of the customer that can be shared across the whole organization.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience Management, Speech Analytics, Call Cente, cloud computing, Customer Service, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics, omnichannel, analytics

Evaluagent Focuses on Agent Engagement

Posted by Richard Snow on Oct 31, 2016 8:22:52 AM

Evaluagent is a U.K.-based company founded in 2012 that is carving out a niche in the workforce optimization market. Whereas most WFO vendors offer broad portfolios of products that focus on operational efficiency to reduce the cost of agents, Evaluagent’s narrower portfolio focuses on the people side of interaction handling, particularly agent engagement and satisfaction. The company’s founders had in-depth operational experience of contact centers, and they set out to improve the job experience for agents over what they had encountered, which included cramped working conditions, demanding performance targets, hard-to-use systems and, worst of all, customers often shouting down the phone at them.

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Topics: Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, cloud computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, workforce optimization, analytics, agent engagement

NICE Advances Contact Centers for SMB

Posted by Richard Snow on Oct 25, 2016 5:16:01 AM

Over the years, our benchmark research studies on contact center systems have shown that larger centers use dedicated contact center systems to support their operations nearly twice as often as centers that have fewer than 250 seats. Smaller centers typically lack budgets and technical skills to deploy and operate such systems. This situation is evident in the tools commonly used to support workforce management and analytics; smaller centers most often use spreadsheets. While spreadsheets have their place in limited ad hoc analysis for small groups, in an environment such as a contact center, they cause issues with regard to ingesting data from multiple sources and providing analysis in real time.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience Management, Call Cente, cloud computing, Customer Service, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, omnichannel, analytics, worrkforce optimization, wfo

Research Agenda: Transforming Customer Engagement in 2016

Posted by Richard Snow on Feb 7, 2016 9:10:27 PM

I have been involved in the contact center, CRM and customer engagement business for more than 25 years. Yet only in the past few years have I seen much change. Until recently nearly all organizations focused on handling customer interactions as efficiently and inexpensively as possible; few made much effort to manage customer relationships over the complete customer life cycle. However, over the last 18 months, the scene has begun to change very rapidly, and I expect that to continue and even accelerate during 2016.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Text Analytics, omnichannel, workforce optimization

Customer Experience in 2016 Infuses New Digital Technologies

Posted by Richard Snow on Feb 1, 2016 8:50:32 AM

There were significant technology developments in customer experience management during 2015. Multichannel contact centers in the cloud took hold of the contact center infrastructure market; I counted 21 vendors offering such services. A variety of vendors entered the market for customer analytics, combining analysis of structured data, speech recordings, text, desktop data, Web contacts, and events and processes to provide a comprehensive “360-degree” view of the customer and customer journey maps to track individual interactions over time. In addition a range of self-service or digital customer service applications became available, including mobile apps, voice-activated virtual agents, interactive video and Q&A websites and chat driven by natural-language processing. Digitally connected devices (the Internet of Things [IoT]) and wearable devices began to emerge. In 2016 I will track and try to anticipate the impact these technologies have on the customer experience.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Text Analytics, omnichannel, workforce optimization

mplsystems Offers Array of Customer Experience Support for Contact Centers

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 3, 2016 10:56:54 PM

Based in the U.K., mplsystems is a relatively small vendor of contact center in the cloud systems, having fewer than 200 employees, but it has a distinct portfolio of products. Its core product, intelligentContact, is designed for omnichannel customer engagement. Its two other products, Customer Service CRM and Field Service Management, are not typically supported by other vendors in this space. As I dug deeper into the component parts of each of these products, I found other capabilities that also are not normally offered by contact center in the cloud vendors.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience Management, Mobile Technology, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Text Analytics, omnichannel, workforce optimization

Diabolocom Provides Customer Interaction in the Cloud Solution

Posted by Richard Snow on Dec 24, 2015 8:42:58 PM

In our benchmark research into contact centers in the cloud, nearly two-thirds (63%) of companies said that adopting applications in the cloud would enable them to improve how they handle customer interactions, and slightly fewer than half (44%) said that adoptingcommunication systems in the cloud would deliver similar benefits. Several vendors now provide such systems.Diabolocom is the latest one to brief me on its products. Founded in 2005 and having around 30 employees, it has headquarters in France (and its website is in French), but it has a global presence, primarily for supporting French companies that have offices around the world. Its contact center  products are available only in the cloud and extend beyond basic multichannel communications to other applications connected with handling customer interactions.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Text Analytics, omnichannel, workforce optimization

Oracle Advances Applications and Technology for Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on Dec 20, 2015 8:23:33 PM

Oracle has built one of the world’s largest software portfolios through a combination of developing products in-house and acquisitions. In the last few years it has put great effort into transitioning from providing its applications as on-premises products tomaking them available in the cloud. It also has worked to add customer experience capabilities to its range of business applications. Improving the customer experience is a top priority as our next generation customer engagement research found in almost three quarters (74%) of organization. In doing so it has developed a common user interface across the applications to address modern user expectations and has built a platform to support common capabilities in all its products. Recently I had the opportunity to study the strides Oracle has made in these areas as well as to identify some issues that still need to be resolved.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience Management, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

Intradiem Enables Real-Time for Agents and Work

Posted by Richard Snow on Dec 17, 2015 10:44:09 PM

When I last wrote about Intradiem, its focus was on using numerous sources of data as input for a rules engine that enables companies to make better use of customer service agents’ idle time by allocating tasks to fill those gaps. Although that fundamental concept hasn’t changed, the latest versions of its products also take on a bigger challenge: automating the handling of interactions by shifting the focus from making the best use of idle time to making the handling of interactions and associated tasks more dynamic.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience Management, Analytics, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), omnichannel