With the 4Q2009 Customer Service Product and Supplier Update, we complete five years of publishing these quarterly reports. 20 of these babies. Wow! In each of them, we’ve discussed and analyzed the customer growth, product activity, and company performance of those suppliers we consider to be the leaders in knowledge management-based customer service. Take a look back with me at the highlights from all five fourth quarter reports.
4Q2005 was a good quarter for cross-channel, cross-lifecycle customer service products and companies. Customer growth was excellent. As a group, the companies acquired over 500 new customers. InStranet just about doubled its customer base. RightNow added 312 customers. ATG, eGain, KANA, and Knova all had at least 15 percent customer growth.
Performance in 4Q2006 was mixed, both when comparing companies and when analyzing results within companies. To be sure, there were some excellent fourth quarter results, such as ATG’s financial performance, but no company delivered excellent results across customers, products, and financials, and there were too many poor or flat results to characterize the quarter any more positively than mixed.
Customer Service suppliers closed out 2007 with a very good fourth quarter. No exceptions. All of the customer service suppliers that we cover had good fourth quarters. Customer growth was the driver in 4Q2007 as it had also been in 3Q2007. $1 million+ deals made the quarter for several of the firms we cover. That customer growth produced excellent financial performance almost across the board.
4Q2008 was the seventh consecutive quarter of growth for KM-based customer service. Customer growth improved as customer acquisition rebounded after being flat or down last quarter. Sales cycles remained long, but sales pipelines were full and deals were closing. Good customer growth means good financial performance.
And, finally, 4Q2009 was a very good quarter for KM-based customer service. Customer growth improved and/or good financial performance resulted for eight of our ten suppliers. Product activity was very high in 4Q2009. There were new products or major new versions from seven of the ten suppliers. We see four key product trends in KM-based customer service: integration of social media, assisted-service, mobile computing, and cloud computing.
KM-based customer service has grown significantly and consistently across the five years of our coverage. For example, RightNow has grown from an $87 million company with 1,500 customers to $152 million company with 2,000 customers! To be sure, there have been a few down quarters, 4Q2006 and 1Q2009, for example. Overall however, the space has thrived. Some of its best quarter occurred during the recent (current?) recession.
2010 is looking very good. Suppliers enter the year with the momentum from very good fourth quarters and with new and attractive products. I look forward to another year of Quarterly Customer Service Product and Supplier Updates.
Customer Service Company and Product Update, 4Q2009
A Very Good 4Q2009 for Knowledge Management-Based Customer Service
By Mitchell I. Kramer, Sr. VP and Sr. Consultant, March 11, 2010