Richard Snow's Analyst Perspectives

Astute Solutions Supports Integrated Approach to CRM

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 5, 2013 11:53:49 AM

Like all analysts, I have a series of classifications to help group together vendors with similar capabilities. My challenge is to create categories that align with most users’ expectations so I don’t confuse readers when I define which category a vendor falls into. My “big five” are WFO or agent performance management (quality monitoring, workforce management, training and coaching, remuneration, and agent-related analytics); contact center infrastructure, including cloud-based systems (multichannel interaction management, routing, CTI, and rerecording); CRM (marketing, sales and customer service); customer experience management (agent desktop, self-service, customer feedback management, knowledge management); and contact center and customer analytics (transactional, speech, text, event, process, multichannel, predictive and big data). Occasionally a vendor comes along that defies these classifications. Astute Solutions is one such. It describes itself as providing “best-of-breed CRM Customer Service, Social CRM, Contact Center, IP Communications, Knowledge Management, Mobile, and Self-Service solutions specifically designed for enabling customer-centric business strategies” – quite a mouthful.

During a recently briefing I learned Astute provides a suite of integrated products that does indeed span all of my categories except WFO. Through a longstanding partnership with Interactive Intelligence it supports multichannel interaction management using Customer Interaction Center, a suite of products that manages interactions through multiple communication channels, and is available as a premises-based solution, or cloud-based, or a mix of the two. It provides the foundation for the other Astute products. ePowerCenter supports what most people would identify as customer service: case management, issue management and resolution, business process management, knowledge management and reporting. It also includes products that support other channels of customer engagement, including self-service. AutoResponse supports automating responses to emails, Liveperson supports live chat, FBChat support chat through Facebook, and SMS Chat supports chat through smart mobile devices.

Mobile CRM provides further support for engaging with customers through smart mobile devices. It allows employees to access CRN capabilities through a mobile app, and lets them view customer information, log and track issues, and create cases while out of the office. RealDialog Self-Service provides an intuitive way for customers to have questions answered through web-base self-service. It offers customers natural language-based interaction with a virtual agent to resolve issues without talking with a live agent.

The full suite of products includes three more products. Astute SRM supports social CRM (or customer service). It allows companies to monitor what customers say about them in social media, extract relevant posts, route them to the right location and person, and then engage with customers through their preferred channel of interaction. Astute Survey Analytics goes beyond analysis of completed surveys and allows companies to create surveys, deliver them through multiple channels, collect responses and analyze the results. Finally, Astute Insights allows companies to bring all this data together and produce reports and analysis of interactions, customer sentiment, trends for key metrics, and root causes of customer issues. These reports can be used to drive improvement programs for marketing, product development, website improvements and multichannel interaction-handling processes.

Astute’s wide-ranging set of capabilities supports most customer-facing activities. The majority, except notably CIC, have been developed by Astute and are tightly integrated, which in itself improves both the efficiency and effectiveness of customer-facing activities. With such a large range of capabilities, I cannot possibly do justice to them all, so I recommend organizations that are looking to improve assisted service, self-service or multi-channel customer engagement evaluate how Astute can support those initiatives.


Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Interactive Intelligence, Unified Communications

Richard Snow

Written by Richard Snow

Richard leads Ventana Research’s Customer and Contact Center Performance Management research practice, which is dedicated to helping organizations improve the efficiency and effectiveness of managing their customers, throughout their lifetime and across all touch points, including the contact center. He conducts research exploring the people, process, information and technology issues behind customer operations management, contact center management, and customer experience management. He also works with senior business operations and IT managers to ensure that companies get the best performance from today’s highly complex application products. Richard has worked in management and consulting leadership positions in the technology industry including with Price Waterhouse, Sema Group and Valors. In his work, he has been involved with all aspects of delivering highly complex IT solutions to a variety of clients in the telecommunications, financial services and public sectors. Richard has specialized in delivering customer care and billing solutions for telecommunications operators, and several multi-channel contact centers for organizations in both the public and private sectors.