Open Source CRM Pulls in Open Source Search

October 8, 2014

I read “12 Open Source CRM Options.” I think of CRM as a synonym for customer experience or CRM as an easy way to suck down a top salesperson’s contact list when he or she heads to greener pastures. I know. I am shortsighted.

The write up surprised me because I did not know there were a dozen open source CRM solutions, components, or widgets. I assumed there were the big buck systems from Oracle and Salesforce.com. I was uninformed.

I had heard of SugarCRM because one of the proprietary search vendors supports the system. I had not heard of:

Vtiger (a variant of SugarCRM), SuiteCRM, Fat Free CRM, Odoo, Zurmo, EspoCRM, SplendidCRM, OpenCRX, X2Engfine, Concourse Suite, or CentraView.

Well, there you.

My reaction to this basket of “suites” is that search is going to be part of the offering. When the baked in solution falls short, then the licensees will look for more robust solutions. For me, that means taking a look at the open source search solutions. ElasticSearch and Sphinx Search come to mind, but there are others.

I would not be too keen to license one of the proprietary search systems for three reasons:

  1. Try open source and if it works, the money can be used for other things. Raises or hiring a tastier consultant
  2. There are satisfactory information retrieval solutions that run from the cloud, on premises, or in a hybrid mode
  3. The hassles of integrating an open source and a proprietary system can be sidestepped. Integration is never a walk in the park, but it seems that open source begets open source.

Stephen E Arnold, October 8, 2014

Clarabridge: Modified Positioning

September 22, 2014

I noted that Clarabridge has modified its marketing for the push to year end revenues. The company continues to use “customer experience” as a code work for customer support. The phrase “customer support” has become a go to reference for some stand up comedians. Customer service is now a “frontier,” not a method for reducing costs. The company is using the bound phrase “your voice” as a way to signal listening to individuals. The notion was parroted in “Clarabridge’s New Customer Service Frontier: Your Voice.” The article asserts:

Clarabridge, a Reston-based company that gathers and analyzes customer sentiment for a range of industries, is adding a noisy new feedback channel: speech.

Clarabridge ingested $80 million in venture funding. Some of the original investors have benefited from this infusion of money. Clarabridge at one time had staff with some expertise in MicroStrategy technology. Clarabridge will use some of the funding to amplify its content marketing activities in order to drive more sales leads.

How quickly will the enterprise search vendors “pivoting” to the customer support market adopt this terminology? Pretty quickly I anticipate.

My principal concern is that

Stephen E Arnold,  September 22, 2014

Google and Customer Support

September 12, 2014

I don’t expect anything from an outfit providing customer support. I don’t expect anything from search vendors with customer support systems. The name of the game is no costs. To eliminate costs, customer support operations have some options.

  1. Ignore the inquiries. I recall that a member of my family used this method for a large search system. He figured that the time required to handle inquiries would bankrupt the company. Ergo: Hit delete.
  2. Buy an automated system and let it run. This usually requires paying a vendor to set up the system and “maintain” it. This works a bit like winning on a digital slot machine.
  3. Try to perform customer support. Move the operation to some lower cost location and deal with the revolving door that leads to 20 to 50 percent turnover.

Many companies use these options in combination.

According to Computerworld (yep, it seems to still be in business unlike other units of IDG’s empire), Google has to shift from option one.

“German Court Requires Google to Stop Ignoring Customer Emails” reports:

Google users who email the address “support-de@google.com” receive an automatic reply notifying the emailer that Google will neither read nor reply due to the large number of requests sent to the address. After that sentence, the automatic reply directs Google users to various online self-help guides and contact forms. This form of communication is incompatible with the German Telemedia Act, which says that companies must provide a way to ensure fast electronic communications with them, the VZBV had argued. The organization described Google’s support address as a black box in which messages disappear into a void. The court agreed with the VZBV and ruled that an automatically generated email does not meet the requirements of the law.

There you go. Google may shift to another option. Perhaps a search engine vendor will land the contract. Will the German court like that approach? I will wait with German pointer like fixation.

Stephen E Arnold, September 12, 2014

Note that IDC is the outfit that sold my content on Amazon without my permission. The “expert” who is surfing on my name is Dave Schubmehl. The German court does not seem to pay much attention to this, however.

Xerox Branches Into Customer Service

August 7, 2013

Isn’t Xerox a copier company? Well, lately it has also been doing litigation and eDiscovery work. Now, Yahoo Finance tells us in “Xerox Acquires Customer Value Group,” the company is adding cloud-based customer service to its repertoire with its latest acquisition. (No word here on how much Xerox shelled out in this deal.)

Customer service? Our top goose remarks that he once called Xerox for help with a DocuTech scanner. He was reminded to ask his assistant whether he is still on hold.

The write-up tells us:

“Leading software company Customer Value Group’s key Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud application enhances cash collections of diverse firms by simplifying management of customer credit, collections, and disputes. It has an in-depth expertise in cloud-based accounts receivable software and manages the order-to-cash process that is related to approximately $15 billion of revenues in eight countries and multiple currencies.

“With this acquisition, Xerox aims to strengthen itself as a as a stand-alone software application provider for managing internal finances of various companies. As part of its finance and accounting process outsourcing services, Xerox will offer Customer Value Group’s Value+ product to its clients.”

The article emphasizes that Xerox will continue to comb the globe for choice enterprises to snap up in the years ahead. The company, based in Norwalk, Connecticut, now houses three operating segments, Technology, Services, and “Others”. That last one— well, that’s one way to avoid boxing yourself in.

With a focus on innovation and leading-edge software, The Customer Value Group boasts of a typical ROI 5 to 10 times the cost of engagement. The London-based company brings several prominent credit, collections, and customer-service clients to the table.

Cynthia Murrell, August 07, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Clarabridge and Brandwatch Partner Up and Promise More Sophisticated Customer Analytics

July 21, 2013

The article on Contact Centre Live titled Clarabridge Partners with Brandwatch to Extend its Clarabridge Social Solutions addresses the partnership between the Customer Experience Management provider Clarabridge and the global analytics provider Brandwatch. The two companies believe their integration will deliver the resources to gain a holistic understanding of any given business’s customer base. CEO of Clarabridge Sid Banerjee commented,

“Clarabridge has been and continues to be the pioneer in multi-source customer experience management for the Global 1000. Our partnership with Brandwatch provides our customers with an integrated end-to-end solution for social media, further expanding our Clarabridge Social offering. The level of rich social media data provided by Brandwatch, coupled with the intelligent analytics and operational capabilities of Clarabridge, adds up to the most sophisticated CEM hub available on the market and that is incredibly beneficial to our customers.”

The two companies bring different technological advances to the table. Brandwatch is able to capture data from millions of sites in over 25 languages and is able to filter out the irrelevant data, refining searches. Clarabridge, which seems to have moved beyond its original market, offers a method of skipping past social posts without merit and discover the insightful posts buried beneath the spam.

Chelsea Kerwin, July 21, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Hootsuite and Attensity Integration Promises Customer Service Breakthroughs

July 12, 2013

The article on Hootsource titled Why Having a “Big Data Strategy is a Bad Idea by Catherine H Van Zuylen, a VP at Attensity, addresses Hootsuite’s launching a new integration with Attensity. The article claims that the combination of the two will create the ultimate customer service machine. Companies can basically eavesdrop on their customers on social media and learn where the conversation is going before it gets there. The article explains,

“For example, you may hear about someone complaining that your new device got so hot in someone’s hand that they claim to have been burned. This information should immediately be routed to legal (for determination of veracity and risk), to engineering (to alert them to start testing for and diagnosing the issue) and to customer service… It might also be time for marketing to pull that “The hottest phone this summer” marketing campaign.”

Another article, Hootsuite Launches Attensity Integration to Automate Enterprise Customer Service on Market Wired, explains the potential windfall of marketing intelligence now possible. Ryan Homes, a CEO of Hootsuite, stated that the partnership will enable “the world’s largest brands to cut through the noice on social media to engage with their customers.” The integration is certainly an interesting way to boost Attensity’s impact as competition increases.

Chelsea Kerwin, July 12, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Report Outlines Global Customer Experience Management Field

July 3, 2013

Now here is an interesting factoid. If this finding is accurate, the customer experience management field is undergoing quite the boom. SBWire points to a recent study from market research firm Research Moz in, “Global Customer Experience Management Market 2012-2016: Latest Industry Research Report.” The report asserts:

“Global Customer Experience Management (CEM) market to grow at a CAGR of 20.79 percent over the period 2012-2016. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the increased number of customer touch points. The Global CEM market has also been witnessing a growing demand for mobile analytics. However, integration of multiple communication channels could pose a challenge to the growth of this market.”

The report, Global CEM Market 2012-2016, is the result of a global market-analysis effort in consultation with industry insiders. The press release emphasizes that it also forecasts the CEM landscape over the near future, as well as covering prominent vendors in the field; see the write-up for specifics. The full report can be purchased here.

Cynthia Murrell, July 03, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Attensity: Evolving and Repositioning Again

April 29, 2013

I met David Bean years ago. He was explaining “deep extraction” to me at a now defunct search engine conference. I recall that he had a number of US government clients. I noted in my analysis of the company which appeared in my analysis of the company that the firm wanted to break into non government markets.

I made sure that one of my team captured news releases about Attensity. When I checked the my files to update my Attensity profile, I noted that the company had done a merger with a couple of German outfits, was pushing into sentiment analysis, and beating the text analytics drum.

In one sense, Attensity was following the same path of Stratify, which as you probably know was Purple Yogi. Hewlett Packard now owns Stratify and I don’t hear too much about how its journey from government work to the wide world of non government work has worked out. Purple Yogi, now Hewlett Packard Autonomy, Stratify is doing legal stuff … I think. If I understand the write up by a high intellect consultant expert, Attensity is speedboating into customer support.

Can market niches like customer support, eDiscovery, and business intelligence keep some vendors afloat?

Two different markets but one common goal: Diversify in order to generate big revenues.

I read “Attensity Uses Social Media Technology for Smarter Customer Engagement.” On the surface, the story is a good one and it is earnestly told:

Its product Respond uses natural language-based analysis to derive insights from any form of text-based data and among other results can produce analyses of customer sentiment, hot issues, trends and key metrics. The product supports what Attensity calls LARA – listen, analyze, relate, act – which is a form of closed-loop performance management. It begins by extracting data from multiple sources of text-based data, (listening), analyzing the content of the data (analyze), linking this data with other sources of customer data, and producing alerts, workflows and reports to encourage action to be taken based on the insights (act).

Familiar stuff. Text processing, outputs, and payoffs for the licensees.

Attensity, founded in 2000, that’s 13 years ago, is no spring chicken. I learned from the write up:

Attensity has also made some technical improvements to the product. The architecture now supports multitenancy and automatic load balancing, which are especially useful in handling very large volumes of tweets. Reporting has been enhanced to include more visualization options, trend analysis, emerging hot issues, and process and performance analysis.

My thought is that many firms which flourished with the once generous assistance of the US government now have to find a way to generate top line revenue, sustainable growth, and profits.

In the present financial environment, text processing companies are flocking to specific problem areas in organizations. Customer support (a bit of an oxymoron in my opinion), eDiscovery, and business intelligence (not as amusing as military intelligence in my opinion) now are well served sectors.

The companies looking for software and systems to make sense of data, cut costs, gain a competitive advantage, or some other benefit much favored by MBAs have not found a magic carpet ride.

The noise from vendors is increasing. The time required to find and close a deal is increasing. Some customers are looking high and low for a solution which is “good enough”. Management turnover, frequent repositionings, and familiar marketing lingo by themselves may not be enough to keep the many firms competing in these “hot niches” afloat.

Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2013

New Zealand Post Continues with RightNow Adoption

March 22, 2013

New Zealand (NZ) Post has been using the RightNow platform and according to the ZDnet “NZ Post looks to Bolster Oracle RightNow Adoption” plans to expand the usage of the Oracle cloud-based RightNow customer management service. Oracle purchased the CRM software company in 2011. New Zealand postal service began using the RightNow platform as a sales customer relationship management (CRM) tool. They then expanded the product suite so that it covered a variety of different channels such as email and social media. New Zealand Post had a joint venture with DHL but they ended it and bought back the shares of Express Courier. According to the New Zealand Post head of customer channels Russell Stephens, with this new addition New Zealand Post now wants to combine the customer care process for the courier unit with its main business.

“We are currently looking to deploy RightNow across the CourierPost business, and that will give us great benefit in both contact centres that work across our parcel and courier business.”

Stephens has been using the RightNow technology for several years and one of its most notable feats is the ability to give a single view of customer interactions with New Zealand Post across multiple channels.

“There have been instances where a customer was complaining about NZ Post’s services on Twitter, but the company could see that the person was already on a live chat with a staff member and was able to respond to the customer accordingly on Twitter. I think that is a really cool example of when those channels come together. In the old world, that wouldn’t have happened and the customer would just be on the phone with us.”

Seems like NZ Post is already a fan of RightNow technologies and its new relationship with Oracle simply means business as usual.

April Holmes, March 22, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Updates On Customer Experience Management

January 21, 2013

Pulling from Customer Think, the article “Predictions For Customer Experience Management In 2013” discusses how the customer experience management have made great strides in the past three years. CEM used to solely focus on information fathering and finding insights in customer data (sounds like Big Data, right?). CEM now has more technology and methods at its fingertips to connect CEM users to its customers for real experiences. Two thousand thirteen will bring even more changes and the article predicts that solicited and social feedback will merge. CEM users must figure out how to take it, advantage of the two and possibly build a platform to manage it. Also immediate and real time feedback through mobile devices will be worth their weight in gold to gain consumer insights.

Here is the biggest change:

“Action at the Frontline Will Become Standard: While first-generation CEM software focused on capturing feedback, today’s CEM solutions go beyond understanding the customer experience. Now enterprises want CEM platforms that allow the frontline to connect feedback to action. In 2013, organizations will measure their CEM programs not just on response rates, but also on the closed loop and the business impact of closing the loop. The CEM solution of 2013 will directly (and not through complicated integration and years of IT projects) trigger, capture, and manage the action associated with feedback all the way to the frontline. CEOs need to make it their company’s mission to focus on the customer and even create a culture and the appropriate business measures and incentives to make it happen. But the people, who directly impact the customer’s experience, each and every day, are frontline employees. In 2013, the actions and influence of the frontline will grow, and consumers will feel the benefits.”

CEM makes sense when it comes to clothing, personal products, sport-related products, technology, etc., but what does it mean for software? Cheaper customer support systems? The article, applies more to physical products than digital.

Whitney Grace, January 21, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

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