Considering that sixty-eight percent of US consumers report an unsatisfactory service interaction during the past 12 months, everyone is focused on improving the customer experience. While it’s the responsibility of organizations to change internal culture to reflect transparency and more active communications, customer relationship management vendors also need to better manage customer data, provide richer analytics, and integrate social and mobility capabilities. According to the Forrester Wave: CRM Suite Customer Service Solutions, Q3 2012, there are a few CRM vendors leading the way.

Defining, Identifying Customer Service Benefits, Challenges

Forrester evaluated 18 significant products in the CRM customer services solutions space that included broad range of vendors:

  1. CDC Software
  2. FrontRange Solutions
  3. Maximizer Software
  4. Microsoft
  5. NetSuite
  6. Oracle CRM On Demand
  7. Oracle E-Business Suite CRM
  8. Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM
  9. Oracle Siebel CRM products
  10. Pegasystems
  11. RightNow Technologies (now Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service)
  12. Sage CRM
  13. Sage SalesLogix
  15. SAP CRM
  16. SAP Business-All-in-One
  17. SugarCRM
  18. Sword Ciboodle

So how do you evaluate a CRM suite to begin with? First, Forrester looked at what make customer service important -- things like how good customer service experiences boost long-term loyalty, how poor customer service leads to increased costs, and how poor service experiences risk customer defections and revenue losses. 

Of course, good customer service is not always easy to define or to provide, but we can readily identify the challenges standing in our way, namely the ability to provide a consolidated customer service tool set for agents, follow consistent processes, comply with policy and regulations, monitor customer needs and satisfaction, and provide multi-channel customer service in the way that customers want to receive it.

Add it all up, and a CRM suite should be able to provide solutions that push past these challenges to empower agents to deliver optimal service, engage customers for service across channels and make it easier to understand the rapidly changing customer technologies landscape.

Forrester evaluated each vendor against 255 criteria, which were grouped into three high-level categories: Current Offering, Strategy and Market Presence. Additionally, to make the cut, each vendor included in the evaluation had to offer:

  • a multifunctional CRM applications suite
  • functionality that spans multiple functional areas for customer service
  • strong presence in the customer service market, and
  • a product now in general release and in use by customers.

The Vendors and Their Suites Leading the Charge


  • Oracle Siebel CRM
  • SAP Business All in One (BAiO)
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle CRM on Demand
  • RightNow Technologies (now Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service)
  • Pegasystems

Notes: Forrester says although Oracle Seibel CRM and SAP CRM are better suited for large customer service deployments, and and Microsoft Dynamics CRM offer faster deployment times with a greater ease of use, the difference in their core customer service capabilities are hard to find. Additionally, RightNow (now Oracle RightNow CX Cloud Service), Pegasystems, and Oracle CRM On Demand follow close behind with capabilities that mirror the others.

Strong Performers

  • Sword Ciboodle
  • CDC Software
  • SugarCRM

  • NetSuite
  • Sage CRM

Notes: For enterprises needing customer service solutions with native business process management (BPM) capabilities that can support highly unique and flexible process flows, they can find what they need using Sword Ciboodle and CDC Software’s Pivotal CRM. Additionally, Forrester says Sage CRM and SugarCRM offer a breadth, they do but not provide depth, of customer service capabilities at a lower price point than many of the market leaders that focus primarily on the needs of large enterprises.


  • Oracle E-Business Suite CRM
  • Oracle People Soft Enterprise CRM
  • Maximizer Software
  • FrontRange Solutions

Notes: Being able to integrate front-office CRM and back-office enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems together allows organizations to manage customer interactions through a unified platform across multiple channels, departments, lines of business, and geographies. Along those lines, Oracle E-Business Suite CRM attracts customers by providing ease of integration into the rest of the Oracle E-Business Suite, while Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM attracts companies already using PeopleSoft HR and ERP solutions by providing strong integration benefits.

Of course, only your organization can choose the right CRM suite appropriate for your needs and challenges, but thanks to Forrester’s analysis, you can better identify what vendors should be considered.