Analysts have been talking and writing about a “360 degree” view of the customer for years. Our own benchmark research intovr_customer_analytics_05_dissatisfaction_with_customer_analytics_updated customer relationship management shows that only37 percent of organizations are able to produce analysis and reports that yield such a comprehensive view. Other research into next-generation customer analytics reveals that the main issue in this area for nearly two-thirds (63%) of organizations is data availability. To make the situation worse, customer-related data is getting ever more numerous and complex. A principal reason for this growth is the number of communication channels consumers now use to engage with organizations and the type of data these channels produce. It includes call recordings, text messages, email, social media posts, customer feedback surveys, chat scripts and event data such as videos that users download. All of these types of data are unstructured , which makes them harder for conventional analytics tools to access and analyze.

Clarabridge is an established vendor of analytics that over the last few years has focused on helping companies deal with such data. Its portfolio of products is called Clarabridge CX Suite that includes CX Analytics, CX Social and CX Survey. The products capture data from a variety of sources; a big data platform provides the core tools to analyze large volumes of ventanaresearch_technologyinnovationawards_winner2016_whitestructured and unstructured data; analytics tools execute specific types of analysis; and a set of tools enables organizations to take action based on the results of the analysis. The focus on social media engagement with CX Social was recognized with a 2016 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award.

Clarabridge offers three sets of tools to capture specific categories of data. One captures data from multiple types of surveys such as post-call surveys, NPS surveys, Web-based surveys and employee surveys. A second captures social feedback from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms. The other set captures interaction and related customer data from email, chat scripts, contact center agents’ notes, voice recordings, CRM data and other sources. Clarabridge calls these tools the “listening layer” because they enable organizations to capture data from these customer-related sources and connect it to a specific customer.

The big data platform and analytics tools are what the company calls its “analyze” layer. An advanced text analytics tool uses natural-language processing and other techniques to extract insights from unstructured text data. It allows users to set up rules to categorize interactions based on words or phrases they include, to derive caller sentiment at a more detailed level than I have seen in other products, and to spot trends. This layer also includes tools that allow users to create their own analysis, using any of the data captured at the listening layer. I especially like the ability to produce customer journey maps that focus on the customer life cycle, as they search for products, acquire products, use products and seek support – in other words, from marketing through sales and service, rather than on channel use, which many other products focus on.

The “act” layer I find to be the most important. It is divided into proactive support of front-line operations and business optimization. In principle these halves provide similar capabilities to put outputs from the analyze layer to use. In terms of front-line operations this goes beyond visualizing the information in different ways for different uses to recommend actions to, for example, contact center agents. From a business optimization perspective, it also goes beyond visualizing the information in different forms to show analysis across multiple data sources, role-based dashboards, side-by-side comparison of information and root-cause analysis. In conjunction these features allow organizations to make use of the insights they gain from using analytics beyond just producing pretty charts.

Clarabridge is cognizant that many advanced analytics tools are not easy for many business people to use. It therefore provides extensive support services that range from setting up access to data sources, customer segmentation and journey mapping; setting up topics, themes and categorization rules; interpreting emotion and sentiment analysis; using root cause analysis; customizing reports and analysis; redesigning interaction processes; to using the outputs to design a customer engagement strategy. Added together these services extend from help in overcoming the initial hurdles of using the tools properly to helping organizations get full business value from the products. These services and the product set provide a firm foundation and an ongoing process for improving business performance.

Our research into next-generation contact centers in the cloud shows that customer vr_ngccc_01_customer_self_service_will_increase_updatedexperience (CX) has become the true business differentiator: 70 percent of participants said that it is the primary way they expect to compete for customers. I believe a comprehensive view of customers that makes use of all available data, their business journeys and the business impact of customer engagement are essential components are starting a CX initiative and gaining maximum business benefit from it. So I recommend that organizations wanting to maximize the value of their customers assess how Clarabridge can help those efforts.

Regards,

Richard Snow

VP & Research Director Customer Engagement

Follow Me on Twitter and Connect with me on LinkedIn

In the late 1990s, CRM systems were launched to help organizations become customer-centric, to manage customer relationships from end to end, through marketing to sales to customer service, and to provide a “360-degree view of the customer.” For a variety of reasons (overselling, lack of proper adoption, missing functionality), they never lived up to many companies’ expectations, and so CRM got a poor reputation. I recently wrote that customer experience management has undergone significant change in the last 18 months, taking over the role of helping organizations become customer-centric, and that CRM vendors have played a part in these changes. Some of the larger ones have, in my view, taken a backward step by breaking CRM into three components to support marketing, sales and customer service; this makes it harder to support the end-to-end customer life cycle.

SugarCRM is not one of them. It has remained true to the original concept and provides a single product to manage the complete cycle of customer relations. Staying the course has helped it achieve business success.

The company makes some elaborate claims on its website – that its product transforms the enterprise, makes users “heroes” at work – so I was keen to learn if the reality lives up to those claims. After a briefing and demonstration, I still feel these claims are a bit over the top, but overall I was impressed. As well as the extensive range of CRM capabilities, three things caught my attention. First, the single product integrates marketing, sales and customer service capabilities, uses a common user interface, is based on one customer database, and can be managed centrally. In this way it connects processes that span the customer life cycle. The software is underpinned by a design studio in which users can build rules-driven process maps that govern how processes flow, both within and across functional areas, for example, from closing a sale to onboarding the customer. One associated feature I particularly like is the ability to create journey maps that show the state of tasks as a customer moves through marketing to sales to support and not as is typical from one communication channel to the next. The integration capabilities extend to importing data from external systems such as ERP, which can enhance the information about a customer and add detail to the journey maps.

Second, as I watched the demonstration, I saw that the user interface aligns with modern user expectations, featuring highly visual widgets on a user’s main dashboard, the ability to drill down to more detailed information and the need to only enter data once. Finally, the product has been built to extend and customize. Organizations can configure the product to their own requirements and add new features, data fields and reports using tools made available by Sugar and its partners. All together the product provides broad support for the complete customer life cycle. It is available through multiple supply models, on-premises and in the cloud, which make it accessible to organizations of all sizes.

Despite my earlier comments about popular opinion on CRM systems, our research into next-generation customer engagement shows that CRM is still the most common system vr_ngce_08_systems_to_improve_customer_engagement_updatedimplemented by organizations (48% of them) in their efforts to improve customer engagement, and a further 17 percent expect to implement it over the next 12 months. The same research shows that customer experience is an enterprise issue, and although CRM is not the complete answer, it plays a critical role managing marketing, sales and service records and being a system of record about the customer. To provide customers with consistent responses to interactions, it is thus vital that all employees, and digital self-service systems as well, use the same up-to-date information. SugarCRM provides these capabilities so I recommend that any organization looking to improve the customer experience assess how it can help with those efforts.

Regards,

Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director, Customer

Follow Me on Twitter and Connect with me on LinkedIn

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