Cloud-based customer engagement just got more competitive, with Parature unveiling its latest twist on social CRM software. The eleven year-old company, based in Vienna, Virginia, develops customer-service programs, available over the web in the form of software-as-a-service (SaaS).
The latest addition to the company's software for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is Parature Spring '11, which is designed to help customer support teams in two important ways. First, by leaving customers with a positive impression, and second, by engaging the company's target audiences through social networking and other types of communication.
Parature Spring '11 ties together communications through Twitter, Lithium communities, Facebook, and chat functions, as well as the more traditional modes of customer service -- phone, e-mail and the web. Parature says the new version helps companies monitor, manage and resolve service issues more effectively across those channels.
Even as Duke Chung, chief strategy officer for Parature, launches Spring '11 and prepares to roll out Parature for Facebook as a stand-alone product, he sees plenty of competition on the horizon.
The Wild West of Social Software
"The social-software marketplace is still undefined to a large part -- it's like the Wild West out there," Chung said. "There are hundreds of companies that position themselves as social-software providers. Companies looking to make a purchase have to educate themselves so thoroughly and then make the decision that best fits their strategies and organization."
As Chung sees it, this process can be exhausting, confusing and lead to folks wanting to wait and see how the game pans out and who emerges as the leader. He is betting that by integrating social channels into the experience, Parature will stand out from the social-applications crowd.
With Spring '11, Parature expands its direct social-engagement model to Twitter and Lithium. The new version also offers auto-suggest and improved search features. Customers can automatically receive auto-suggested answers while submitting tickets. Parature also beefed up the analytics; developed the ability to view, report and automatically remove profane content from a Facebook page for brand security; and added rich media support and unified management of multiple Facebook pages.
"Since last year, Parature has been focused on integrating social networks and channels into its overarching cloud-based support solutions," Chung said. "The reason being that as the web evolves to be more social and collaborative, consumers and customers are looking to their preferred channel to find the answers they need. Facebook has over 500 million members, and members spend hours at a time on the network. Customers don't want to leave their preferred channel to head elsewhere to get the answers they are looking for."
Resolving Issues More Quickly
Vovici, a survey-software and enterprise-feedback-solutions company, is tapping into Parature to meet the increasing demand it sees for direct communication with its clients through social channels.
"Vovici is all about customers; it's not only our business but our internal philosophy as well," said Nancy Porte, Vovici's vice president of customer experience. "Delivering service with Parature's customer-support software enables our customers to quickly and independently resolve issues or directly engage with our support team via chat or a social network, which helps us differentiate ourselves, retain existing customers, and attract new ones."