Gartner: tops for Customer Engagement Centers

Gartner Magic Quadrant 2016
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Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center

04 May 2016 | ID:G00278086



Vendors’ positions in this Magic Quadrant reflect the growing demand for cloud-based customer service applications to support agents who engage with customers through multiple channels. It remains the case that no vendor offers a suite that meets all global and cross-industry needs.

Strategic Planning Assumptions

Through 2017, 50% of organizations will select SaaS for complex business process support.

By 2018, as more applications are built for a cloud-based model, and as vendors deploy data centers in Europe and Asia, SaaS will emerge as an essential selection factor for CRM customer engagement centers in all geographies and for all levels of process complexity.

Through 2018, an ecosystem containing at least four types of product will be required to build the ideal customer engagement center, the core of which will be an intelligent system for CRM case management.

Market Definition/Description

This Magic Quadrant examines the global market for customer service and support applications designed to engage customers through whichever channel they are using when they require assistance. It covers a wide range of customer service applications for organizations with customer engagement centers (CECs) ranging from the very small (fewer than 20 agents), to the averagely sized (50 agents) and the very large (over 20,000 agents).

At the heart of a CEC is a case management and problem resolution system. It requires a strong ability to create, split, federate, join, assign and escalate cases, if it is not to be of merely marginal benefit to a CRM initiative.

The functionalities evaluated in this Magic Quadrant include those for knowledge-enabled service resolution, social media/community management and offer management. Also evaluated are interaction assistance tools and service analytics dashboards. Ideally, the applications should have tools for both agents and customers, designed on a common platform.

We considered the following to be critical capabilities and features:

  • Case management/problem/service resolution (and control of customer master data)
  • A knowledge management solution
  • A full customer self-service suite, with support for Web and mobile channels
  • Real-time decision-making and predictive analytics support for agents
  • An adaptive business rule engine
  • Enterprise feedback management

In addition, we draw readers’ attention to the greater emphasis placed this year on the following:

  • Agent guidance and nurturing (embedded human capital management abilities)
  • Connection to the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Context mining of voice and text
  • Global instances of the system
  • Industry-specific functionality and workflow
  • Multimodal capabilities, such as support for chat within mobile self-service
  • Native mobile support for the vendor’s customer service and support business applications
  • Real-time and predictive analytics that identify the reasons for calls and their likely resolution
  • Scalable cloud-based systems
  • Social media engagement
  • Suggested next agent action
  • Support for both self-service and assisted service across different types of device

The software functionality weightings for this Magic Quadrant, which reflect the most common requirements expressed by Gartner clients, and our view of how requirements are evolving, are as follows:

  • Case management/problem/service resolution (and controls of customer master data): 15%
  • Knowledge solution: 15%
  • Real-time decision support: 10%
  • Support of collaborative online communities: 10%
  • Integrated email, chat (including chat in external mobile apps), collaboration tools: 10%
  • Multisource search optimization and authoring: 10%
  • Social media engagement and community monitoring: 5%
  • Full support of customers using mobile devices (such as support for mobile messaging, chat and content): 5%
  • Adaptive business rule engine: 5%
  • Support of video libraries and video chat with customers using the Web and mobile devices: 5%
  • Enterprise feedback management: 5%
  • Predictive customer analytics: 5%
  • Offer management/sales capability: No weighting, but considered a good additional feature
  • Virtual customer assistant/proactive smart agent capability: No weighting, but considered a good additional feature

Note that any vendor whose product does not control the customer master data during the customer interaction could not be considered a Leader in this Magic Quadrant, but might be considered a Challenger, a Niche Player or a Visionary.

Factors affecting our evaluations included the extent of a vendor’s presence in the market and the observed momentum of its growth. A vendor with stagnant sales or an ineffectual marketing organization should concern prospective buyers.

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center

Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (May 2016)

Vendor Strengths and Cautions


Salesforce has five business application clouds — Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Community Cloud and Analytics Cloud — in addition to its App Cloud and IoT Cloud. As of 2Q16, Salesforce had over $6.5 billion in revenue and a commanding presence in key markets — that is, it appeared as the leading vendor on shortlists for B2B customer service and support solutions seen by Gartner six times as often as its nearest rival. Gartner estimates that 40% of Salesforce’s new revenue came from Service Cloud in 2015, making Salesforce the leading CEC vendor, measured by sales volume. However, Salesforce is not a leader in complex B2C service centers.

  • For B2B customer service operations, especially those with an established Salesforce presence in the sales department, Service Cloud is a routinely shortlisted product in the U.S., Western Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. New partnerships are bringing Salesforce into the public, communications and media, insurance and health insurance sectors.
  • Key new customers — both B2B and B2C — have shown enough faith in the CEC product and the Service Console to invest more than $10 million per year in Salesforce, while retiring homegrown systems and/or systems from competitors that were at the end-of-life stage. They consider the Salesforce application platform to be a strategic asset.
  • Salesforce’s enormous influence in the market has attracted a global list of key system integrators and over 600 complementary software providers.
  • Salesforce’s Community Cloud product for internal collaboration and digital commerce is becoming a differentiator, as are its new analytics capabilities. Adoption of these is often the first step in a more complex implementation. As such, Community Cloud is a good place to learn the strengths and weaknesses of Salesforce’s products overall.
  • Salesforce is the clear leader in this market.
  • Salesforce’s out-of-the-box functionality is fairly generic, though the company has delivered an industry roadmap and is building industry-specific capabilities. Business users are often surprised at the degree of effort required to achieve a solution with the workflows and case capabilities that they need.
  • Advanced customer service organizations may be frustrated by Salesforce’s lack of master data management functionality, and the simple nature of its dashboards and reports for KPIs. This applies especially to buyers expecting a focus on workforce optimization.
  • Salesforce’s new Lightning development environment is progressing, but for complex and high-volume customer service environments its user interface may not be the preferred one. As of 2Q16, there are no examples of large and complex CECs (those with a high volume of interactions and five or more integration points with live data from legacy systems) using the Lightning user interface.
  • Customers have expressed concern about high prices and vendor lock-in, once they integrate multiple Salesforce components. As clients gain more complex CEC capabilities, they encounter maintenance complexities that were not apparent when the installations were simpler, and they find that these, combined with software costs, result in a higher-than-expected total cost of ownership.
  • Features such as mobile chat, intuitive content discovery for customer self-service, enterprise feedback management, real-time next best action, email intake and routing, and multichannel interaction routing are best handled by Salesforce’s partners.
  • Salesforce still offers only limited ability to build and support a global-class B2C CEC product (for example, one that requires integrations and ongoing support of phone switches, email exchanges and back-end real-time processing systems). For large-scale, high-volume CECs where processes must be continually synchronized and monitored — such as in retail banking, loan origination, insurance policy administration, bill processing and fraud management — we recommend checking references for implementations of similar size and complexity.

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