Salesforce leads pack of six vendors in Gartner's latest CRM customer engagement centre rankings

Salesforce is joined by five other players in the leaders quadrant of what is a busy customer service and support solutions list

Salesforce has dominated for leadership and vision in Gartner’s latest rankings of the top customer service and support software vendors globally. But a number of other players have been highlighted as leaders in what is fast becoming a busy list.

The latest Gartner report on the CRM Customer Engagement Centre (CEC) ranked vendor offerings based against four key customer management criteria: Getting connected, process orchestration, resource management and analytics and insights. The analyst firm recently redefined the CEC market as one of software applications used to provide customer service and support by engaging intelligently – both proactively and reactively – with customers.

Among key capabilities Gartner scored were scalable cloud-based systems, real-time and predictive use of customer service analytics, agent guidance and navigation, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) utilisation, contextual knowledge management, digital workflows, social engagement management, unification of digital and physical touchpoints and proactive messaging functionality to customers.

In this report, Gartner said it was also looking for emerging capabilities that indicated innovation in CRM, such as voice of the customer tools, workforce engagement management, conversational orchestration and customer success and field service management.

Salesforce came up trumps again this year for its Service Cloud solution, and Gartner noted the vendor had added or made enhancements to 125 features within the platform over the past year. These included real-time, AI-based case classification, skill-based routing and WhatsApp support. As part of the wider Salesforce platform, Service Cloud is complemented by the vendor’s AppExchange Marketplace, Ignite customer innovation program and Trailhead learning, which Gartner saw giving it even wider scope for feature and capability innovations.

“The introduction of Service Cloud Voice [general availability planned for Q3, 2020] will give customers the option to bring new, pre-integrated voice services through Amazon Connect,” the report authors stated. “This will be an addition to the vendor’s ability to integrate with other contact centre offerings.”

Gartner also noted about two-thirds of prospective CEC customers nominated Salesforce Service Cloud one of their top three vendor choices, compared with its nearest competitor, which was shortlisted by 35 per cent of customers. 

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However, five other vendors made it into the leadership quadrant this year: Pegasystems, ServiceNow, Microsoft, Zendesk and Oracle.

Pegasystems, again featuring for another year, offered easy integration with third-party offerings, customer engagement and case workflow automation capabilities, low-code innovation and strong AI and RPA capabilities, Gartner stated.

Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Customer Service Solution, which also made the leader quadrant last year, was noted for its native integration with the software giant’s wider product portfolio and the unification of tech stack with customer data. Other elements highlighted included AI-driven and intelligent insights and customer services through Azure Cognitive Services, Microsoft Bot Framework and Power virtual agents, as well as strong support via RPA capabilities and a unified agent view.

Oracle’s CX Service was also in the leader quadrant for continuous delivery of innovation, a focus on predictive services, an ability to connect visual experiences and channels, and digital customer service support offering. The vendor was also described as having one of the most scalable and functional knowledge management solutions.

Zendesk is another reappearing in the leadership quadrant in June 2020. Gartner pointed to the vendor’s recent acquisition of Smooch’s messaging platform, along with the debut of the Zendesk Duet combined sales and service offering and Zendesk Gather community experience products as examples of a strong innovation roadmap. The platform was also recognised for being easy to use and agile, and for being available on public cloud.

ServiceNow, meanwhile, moved from visionary into the leader quadrant this year. Gartner stated stronger AI capabilities on the platform and specifically around customer service management, high-quality platform build, co-delivery model and execution as reasons for its position in the leadership ranks.

There were also plenty of other vendors in the Gartner CRM customer engagement centre map falling outside leadership ranks. Freshworks, for example, was recognised as a sole visionary in the space with a strong completeness of vision, but not as strong in terms of ability to execute. SAP was also listed as the only challenger product with a higher ability to execute but less vision.

Those falling into Gartner’s bottom quarter for ability to execute and vision were Verint Systems, Appian, Creatio, SugarCRM, Kustomer, Zoho, eGain and CRMNext.

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