During the past five years, the customer service capabilities leading vendors has matured as vendors have focused on solidifying the foundational building blocks of customer support capabilities. Vendors have folded new technologies such as social capabilities, business process management, decisioning, business intelligence, and mobility into their solutions to allow organizations to offer more-personalized customer service experiences. Vendors have also focused on different buyers – those that have to support enterprise-size teams who respond to inquiries primarily over the phone channel, and those that have to support small to mid size teams  who support multichannel operations.

This maturation makes it, in a way, increasingly challenging to be confident of your technology choice. In The Forrester Wave: Customer Service Solutions For Enterprise Organizations, Q2 2014, we pinpoint the strengths of 11 leading vendors that offer solutions suitable for large and very large customer service agent teams. Here are some of our key findings:

  • Oracle Siebel, salesforce.com, SAP CRM, and Oracle Service Cloud battle for the lead. Oracle Siebel CRM and SAP CRM are better suited for customer service deployments that support thousands to tens of thousands of agents, that demand high levels of customization and integration, while salesforce.com and Oracle Service Cloud’s deployment sizes are typically much smaller, and offer faster deployment times with a greater ease of use. But you have to look deep to find differences in their core customer service capabilities. The depth and breadth of these vendors’ deployments in the marketplace reflect the maturity of their customer service capabilities, as well as the professional services and support processes to make their customers successful.
  • Pegasystems CRM, Kana Enterprise, and Microsoft support deep agent guidance. In some enterprises, agents must follow complex, yet reproducible processes that cut across functional silos that require agents to access data from both front- and back-office applications to answer customer requests. They increasingly rely on customer service solutions with native business process management (BPM) capabilities. These solutions enable organizations to design and quickly deploy flexible process flows in order to increase customer service process efficiencies, reproducibility, compliance with company and regulatory policies, and, as a result, customer satisfaction. Pegasystems, with its heritage in enterprisewide BPM, offers robust BPM capabilities to support multichannel, customer-facing processes with a clear focus on customer service. Kana Enterprise focuses on the intersection of BPM, knowledge management, and multichannel management. Microsoft has beefed up its process engine to support agent guidance for consistent and productive customer service.
  • eGain, Moxie Software, and Oracle Service Cloud deliver high-volume multichannel service. eGain, Moxie Software, and Oracle Service cloud support robust multichannel customer service, with each vendor having examples of deployments in the high-thousands of agent seats. SAP Cloud for Service is a new entry in this space, with a subset of overall multichannel functions. These vendors appeal to enterprises which require robust solutions to handle very large volumes of digital and social inquiries. These enterprises tend to have dedicated agent teams for these channels, with separate teams dedicated to the voice channel. These teams rely on solutions which deliver deep automation and learning capabilities to process hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of inquiries a month. A foundational layer of robust knowledge management delivers channel-specific answers to customer inquiries.
  • Microsoft and SugarCRM focus on supporting phone agents. With their strong case management capabilities, computer telephony integration (CTI) and reporting, Microsoft and SugarCRM offer customer service capabilities for phone agents, but lack the multichannel and knowledge management capabilities that other vendors offer. Microsoft has recently addressed this deficiency by acquiring Parature, a mid-market multichannel customer service vendor, which Microsoft plans to integrate into its Dynamics CRM. SugarCRM relies on partners to fill these gaps, and with its commercial open source development approach, it is increasingly catching the interest of larger organizations.