CustServ Solutions — Why Choose one Over the Other?

For a while now I am contemplating about why companies choose one custserv solution over another. After all the market is pretty crowded. Vendors have a hard time to differentiate themselves. Just looking at G2Crowd one finds 88 Help Desk Solutions.

Larger organizations are likely to be influenced by Gartner’s Magic Quadrant on Customer Engagement Centers or the Forrester Wave on Customer Service Solutions. Smaller organizations are probably looking more at the new breed of peer-to-peer review sites, like the aforementioned G2Crowd or GetApp, TrustRadius, Capterra and others.

Many companies conduct research and establish an RFP process to determine the best fit; some see a bottom-up approach from team level to corporation. A kind of ‘shadow IT’ emerges to solve a team’s particular problem. This solution over time could get corporate blessing and may even become the main solution.

A clear and reliable roadmap is mandatory for all vendors, so no difference here. Same for share of mind — this has become table stakes.

But what is it that makes one vendor win over another? Are there patterns? To get more insight I asked some smart people who stay unnamed here — but you know who you are!

So What Are Contributing Factors?

Here they are, in no particular order:

  • A particular feature is needed or desired
  • Suite- vs. Best-of-Breed thinking
  • Size of the customer organization
  • Relationship building
  • Referrals
  • Departmental adoption

Of course they are not mutually exclusive. Let me briefly dive into each of them.

Need of a Particular Feature

Suite vs. Best-of-Breed

However, integration is a very complex topic. Some vendors are therefore offering tightly integrated software, usually on cost of some breadth or depth of functionality and are successfully selling this as an advantage. Customers that go the suite way are usually more interested in a holistic approach than a complete fit to all needs.

On the other hand Best-of-Breed vendors are focusing on providing the best solution while maintaining a small footprint and while increasingly offering integration via platforms. This is usually achieved by having prebuilt integrations and partnerships with platform vendors and therefore by joining (or creating) an ecosystem of vendors. Still, customers opting for Best-of-Breed often look more into a strong functional fit to their requirements.

Size of the Customer Organization

Although this is no more that prevalent, one can still observe that larger, more centralized organizations favor the incumbents over new best-of-breed solutions. This results in a tendency towards suite solutions. Organizations that give their units more independency tend to be more nimble, like smaller organizations, and are more accessible for best-of-breed and departmental solutions.

Relationship Building

Referrals

Departmental Adoption

What Does It Mean?

Suite Vendors

Best-of-Breed Vendors

An odd assortment?

No.

Helpshift is a pureplay, albeit with a focus on bigger customers. Freshworks and Salesforce offer a variety of solutions, with Freshworks covering the SMB market and Salesforce the upper M and enterprise markets. I do not name them suite vendors, as both sell disjoint products that can be integrated via a common platform. Salesforce here became big by using a ‘land and expand’ strategy, which it still uses.

For vendors in this group it is important to show the right feature fit for their audience plus the ability to integrate into other systems, to not get marginalized. Helpshift has the clearest focus with a strong, matching feature set, and a tight integration into Salesforce. Freshworks and Salesforce are offering a number of specialized applications that can integrate through their own platforms — and offer marketplaces to attract specializations that they do not offer themselves.

And there is Nimble, which is in a different area, but has a very interesting strategy.

The company positions itself as the ‘entry drug’ into a larger ecosystem, with a tight focus, augmented by a clear growth path for their customers. And with relationship sales par excellence.

In conclusion: There is a simple framework but the secret is in the mix.

And the mix differs for each company. Use the right arguments for the right customer.

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