Microsoft nabs Parature as customer experience dominoes fall

Consolidation of marketing, customer service continues
Tools

In a week full of acquisitions, the action continued when Microsoft announced it was buying Parature on Tuesday, and it was all about, yes, offering more fully developed customer engagement across multiple channels.

This news comes on the heels of Verint announcing a deal to purchase Kana in another nod to customer experience management. All of this action is not a coincidence. The bigger companies, whether Oracle, Salesforce.com, SAP, Microsoft and now Verint, all want to get in on customer engagement and managing the customer experience--and purchasing an existing company is the fastest way to get there.

The latest move by Microsoft is designed to beef up its Dynamics CRM product with some increased cloud-based customer service muscle with the ability to monitor social media for issues and react in real time to customer issues or respond to problems before they blow up on you.

Frank Lee, who runs a Microsoft Dynamics CRM consultancy called Workopia, says Microsoft needed this deal to stay relevant as a top-tier CRM player.

"Their Dynamics CRM Customer Service capabilities area is pretty weak as compared to their Sales Automation or Marketing (with the 2012 Marketing Pilot acquisition)--Parature will strengthen this area out and bring it up to modern standards--social, mobile, self-service knowledgebase, intelligent multi channel support--all the buzz words that customers are looking for in their Customer Service requirements these days," Lee wrote to me in email.

Bob Stutz, corporate vice president for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, says the deal with allow Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers to deliver the best customer service experience wherever they happen to be, on social networks or on a company online property.

"Customers are more connected and better informed than ever before. Organizations are looking for business solutions that can strengthen their ability to connect with customers on their own terms, using whatever device and whatever channel they prefer," he said in a statement.

The very nature of customer service is changing in profound ways. It's not enough to simply know who your customer is and what they bought. You need to interact with them wherever they are on whatever device they're using, and that has complicated things.

CRM fills a role, but it only goes so far, and in a time when servicing the customer means, in many cases, letting them control the conversation, and interacting only when they ask you to, having a tool like Parature to layer on top of a pure CRM tool like Microsoft Dynamics CRM could provide that additional interactive ability that was missing.

Given the flurry of moves by competitors to buy similar companies, Microsoft had little choice here but to try. Parature should give them at least a foothold in more modern customer service.

For more information,
- see the Microsoft press release

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