Interaction-Centric Customer Service Vendor Spotlight

There’s been lots going on with what Forrester calls the “interaction-centric customer service vendors”. These are the vendors that manage the high-volume, transaction-oriented relationships — those often encountered in B2C environments, over the multiple communication channels (email, chat, social, phone etc) that exist today.

RightNow announced its RightNow’s CX for Facebook app, to be released in November. This app creates a “Support” tab on a company’s wall and allows users to interact via social and traditional channels right from Facebook. Users can find answers from community content or from the corporate knowledgebase, ask the community questions, follow, participate in, and track discussions, propose an idea, ask an agent (either in a public or a private conversation), and more. It’s a nicely designed app, and something that RightNow needed to release, given the availability of similar ones from eGain, Genesys, Parature, etc.

eGain also solidifies its social footprint by announcing its Social Experience Suite — a customer interaction hub that manages both traditional and social interactions. The new version includes a social-blended agent desktop, a single-sourced knowledgebase across all channels (traditional + social again), and a unified customer record. The version also includes forums and adapters to monitor social networks through integrations with Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Yahoo search.

Both RightNow and eGain lead in Gartner's recent Magic Quadrant, which you can access from eGain's site. Forrester has only reviewed suite customer service vendors recently; the results of that Forrester Wave™ are here.

Inquira has heavily invested in its partnership with Oracle to provide knowledge capabilities to the Siebel CRM product line. This partnership has been a win for both companies, and Oracle recognized the value of this partnership by awarding Inquira its Titan Award at Oracle OpenWorld 2010 in the Customer Relationship Management Solution category.

nGenera has renamed itself "Moxie Software" and refocused its efforts on providing a unified social solution within (i.e., for employees) and outside (i.e., partners and customers) the enterprise. Its solutions or “spaces” include the Employee Engagement Spaces and the Customer Engagement Spaces, which extends what was once Talisma’s multichannel customer service footprint to the social space. You can read more about it here. I’m wondering whether the company will now give Jive a run for its money.

Oracle announced its CRM On Demand Release 18 at Oracle OpenWorld 2010, which integrates Oracle’s Market2Lead acquisition, made in May of this year. It basically adds full marketing automation capabilities to the product suite and unifies the end-to-end life-cycle management of leads. It’s a hole that needed to be plugged and is attractively priced for adoption.

I did see lots of social CRM capabilities at Oracle OpenWorld, from managing conversations across channels that include social ones, a universal customer record that includes both traditional and social interactions, capabilities for monitoring a customer’s lifetime value based on his social influence etc. However, I had a hard time figuring out what product these capabilities mapped to — was it the On Demand CRM product, or the newly available limited-edition Fusion solution, or ??

 I’m sure there will be more movement in this space — mergers, acquisitions, or partnerships for the smaller vendors, moves to embrace social CRM for all, and moves to support the mobile customer.