Customer Service Supplier and Product Update 4Q2012
4Q2012 Was a Very Good Quarter for Customer Service
4Q2012 was a very good quarter for customer service. Customer growth was the driver, resulting in very good financial performance. Product activity was up with new offerings, major new versions, and new features. M&A was big news as Nuance acquired VirtuOz. But while the quarter was very positive, overall, 2012 was a mixed year for customer service, with customer growth and financial performance fluctuating up and down.
NETTING IT OUT
4Q2012 was a very good quarter for customer service.
Customer growth was the quarter’s highlight. eGain, IntelliResponse, Next IT, and, especially, Salesforce.com all improved in both new and repeat customers.
Financial performance reflected customer growth. Financial performance was very good at eGain and KANA. It was excellent at IntelliResponse, Next IT, and Salesforce.com.
Product activity was up. Eight of our suppliers made product announcements. eGain, IntelliResponse, and Moxie introduced new products.
Mergers and acquisitions were once again the biggest news in an otherwise very quiet quarter for company activity in 4Q2012. Nuance acquired VirtuOz, a major impact to the virtual agent space.
While 4Q2012 was a very good quarter in customer service, 2012 was a mixed year—mixed in 1Q2012, 2Q2012, and 3Q2012 and mixed for the year overall. Customer growth and, therefore, financial performance were up and down. IntelliResponse and Salesforce.com were the exceptions with improvements across the entire year.
2012 was a busy year in products with new offerings, major new versions, and new features. KANA, Moxie, Oracle RightNow, and Salesforce.com had significant product activity in every quarter. On the other hand, Aptean/Consona was virtually silent in products.
No Customer Service Stars this quarter, but Salesforce.com earned one for the year—a year that it topped $3 billion in revenue.
Social-service and virtual agents continue as hot trends in customer service. Three of our suppliers made social-service product announcements this quarter. Virtual agent suppliers, IntelliResponse, Next IT, and Nuance/VirtuOz, all had very good fourth quarters.
QUARTERLY REPORTS ON THE PERFORMANCE OF CUSTOMER SERVICE SUPPLIERS AND THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
With this report, we conclude our ninth year of quarterly updates on the suppliers and products in customer service. These updates focus on factors that are important in the evaluation, comparison, and selection of customer service products. More specifically, we examine these factors in our quarterly updates:
- Customer acquisition and overall customer growth
- Product activity
- Company activity including mergers and acquisitions, partnerships and alliances, and hiring
- Company financial performance
In our evaluations of quarterly performance, we want to see continuing customer growth, ongoing improvements in products, steady company viability, and good financial performance. We don’t want to change our evaluations based on a quarter’s news, but we do want to raise a red flag when that news deviates from a positive, multi-quarter trend, or to wave a green flag when that news is particularly good. When significant product and company events occur, we identify and highlight those that could have an impact on customer service products and technologies, suppliers, and the market landscape.
Customer Service Suppliers and Products
Here, in Table A, are the customer service suppliers and products that we currently cover.
We made two changes to the list of suppliers and products this quarter. First, we added Next IT and its ActiveAgent virtual agent/virtual assisted offering. We evaluated Next IT ActiveAgent within our virtual agent research series. The Evaluation was published on November 29, 20121. Second, also in the virtual agent space, Nuance acquired VirtuOz. VirtuOz was also part of our virtual agent research series. We published our evaluation of its Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA) offering on July 26, 20122. IVA will be integrated within Nuance’s multichannel offerings.
Calendar and Fiscal Quarters
Note that these quarterly reports accommodate the fiscal years of suppliers that don’t run on the calendar year—IntelliResponse and Salesforce.com both have fiscal quarters that end a month later than calendar quarters. We wait for them every quarter.
Now, let’s take a look at the details of 4Q2012 performance for each of our suppliers...
1) See "Next IT ActiveAgent: Virtual Agents that Deliver Sophisticated Answers to Complex Questions," by Mitch Kramer, November 29, 2012.
2) See "VirtuOz Intelligent Virtual Agent: Powerful and Flexible Cross-Channel, Cross-Lifecycle Virtual Assisted-Service," by Mitch Kramer, July 26, 2012.
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