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Zendesk leapt into the leaderboard while SAP moved farther away in Gartner’s latest industry report on CRM customer engagement centers.

Meanwhile, no vendor comes close to Salesforce — again.

Gartner Inc., the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm, released its Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center this week and named Salesforce, Pegasystems, Oracle, Microsoft and Zendesk as leaders. Zendesk and SAP were on the cusp of the leaderboard last year, but SAP didn't make it this year and ended in Gartner’s “challenger” zone behind the leaders.

Need for Cloud-Based Apps

Customers in this space want cloud-based customer service applications to support agents who engage with customers through multiple channels, according to Gartner. The authors of the report — Michael Maoz and Brian Manusama — predicted that by 2018 organizations will deem a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model as essential for selecting CRM customer engagement centers.

Which vendors did Gartner analyze for this report? For starters, those with at least $7 million in revenue from core customer service and support in the contact center/CEC sector from new clients between February 2015 and February 2016.

These vendors offer customer service and support apps. They also offer capabilities such as knowledge-enabled service resolution, social media/community management and offer management. 

“Ideally,” Gartner analysts wrote, “the applications should have tools for both agents and customers, designed on a common platform.”

Gartner Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Engagement Centers

Mobile Support Struggles

Vendors have work to do, according to Gartner.

Only between 5 percent and 8 percent of customer service and support interactions came via mobile devices. This indicates, analysts found, a gap of 600 to 800 percent between mobile interactions and adequate support for them.

“So much for "omnichannel (or multichannel) consistency,” Gartner’s Maoz and Manusama wrote.

Gartner found good and bad with vendors:

The Bad

Vendors: 

  • Have inflexible configuration rules and procedures that govern the input, retrieval and flow of data and information 
  • Lack cloud-architected products
  • Fail to incorporate advancements like real-time analytics, machine intelligence and social experience design concepts into customer interaction applications for customer service

The Good

Vendors:

  • Have begun to see the economic value of re-architecting their software for social experiences (Gartner cited Oracle as a leading example)
  • Understand that the social revolution in software will adversely affect sales of their core systems during the next five years
  • Make progress through acquisition and innovation (Gartner cited Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP)

Gartner’s View of CRM Leaders

Salesforce Owns B2B Market

Gartner found that Salesforce is appearing on the radar of B2B customer and service shortlists up to six times as much as its nearest rival. Its Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Community Cloud, Analytics Cloud, App Cloud and IoT Cloud give the San Francisco CRM queen a “commanding presence in key markets,” according to Gartner analysts.

Customers have expressed concerns about vendor lock-in, high prices and maintenance complexity.

Oracle’s Apps a Strength

Gartner found the Oracle Service Cloud has strong apps such as field service, mobile customer service, analytics, co-browsing, policy automation, chat, email and knowledge management.

Customers reported problems upgrading to newer versions, performance issues and customization challenges.

Microsoft Behind Salesforce

Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM ranks second behind Salesforce in terms of inquiries among apps for customer service agent desktops. Integrations with other Microsoft apps like Exchange, Office and SharePoint are a bonus, and on-premise and cloud offerings offer flexibility, Gartner analysts found.

Customers told Gartner about problems with workflow capabilities and moving from on-premises to cloud deployments.

Pegasystems Offers Flexibility

Gartner found companies deploy Pegasystems when they know they’ll have changes for highly complex customer service processes. It offers support for many business and delivery models and can cater to “extremely large deployments.”

Customers dinged Pegasystems for poor integration with social media, mobile customer service apps and communities.

Zendesk has Intuitive User Interface

Zendesk’s responsive design allows for deployments on websites, mobile apps and in customer engagement centers. It improved in analytics, satisfaction prediction and advanced voice capabilities.

Customers gave low scores in the areas of social media, enterprise feedback management, advanced knowledge management and email workflow management.