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Independent Sword Ciboodle Software Review

4 stars Average rating: 4 (from 112 votes)

In Pursuit of Customer Service Excellence

Sword Ciboodle took a different tack to deliver customer service software and developed a CRM solution from a process-centric perspective. It's categorized by Forrester Research as Process-based CRM, a moniker that is seldom used outside of Forrester. Nonetheless, it is an accurate description of a small group of BPM (Business Process Management) related CRM software vendors which include Sword Ciboodle, Pegasystems and Chordiant among others.

Forrester has ranked Ciboodle near the top of this niche-oriented CRM software category. And both Gartner and Forrester tend to rate Ciboodle high in the Enterprise CRM segment as well, though not above, and usually not equal to, many mega-vendors and better known brands. Part of the problem in analyst rankings of Ciboodle is that the company's marketing is very low-key and therefore its visibility in the marketplace is very low despite its ability to land big deals. This led Gartner to warn in its April 2011 Magic Quadrant report that "risk averse buyers may mistake the lack of broad deployments and adoption as a sign of product weakness, rather than a lack of visibility."

But if you judge Ciboodle for what it is and the mission it sets out to achieve—that is to empower customers to deliver customer service excellence—the product is more than capable. In a sentence, it ensures the contact center processes actually work, particularly on the agent side. This is not a glitzy system; it's a workhorse that will plow through the work with a sure-footed certainty and steadfast reliability.

Interestingly, Ciboodle honed in on the concept of managing customer experience before such mantra had a name, much less industry buzz. Sword Ciboodle focuses on improving the customer experience (CX) by improving the customer facing processes so that customers get what they need from their suppliers and customer frustration is reduced or eliminated. The company's model is particularly well suited for B2C companies with high-volume transactions and multi-channel interactions.

From Scotland to Global

Initially, the Scottish-based company was called Graham Technology, grew out of the Business Process Management (BPM) sector, and developed a strong presence in Europe and notable presence in the Middle East and Asia. Shortly thereafter the company changed its name to Ciboodle. Then The Sword Group acquired Ciboodle and thus it became known as Sword Ciboodle. The company began offering its CRM software products and services in the U.S. in 2007 and has since made steady headway in the North American market.

The company currently has customers in twelve countries on five continents. The company headquarters are in Renfrewshire, Scotland (UK) with international offices in Chicago, Houston and New York in the U.S.; Calgary in Canada; Sydney and Brisbane in Australia; Galway in Ireland; Auckland in New Zealand; Jakarta in Indonesia; and Johannesburg in South Africa. Today, the Sword Group parent company is a quarter of a billion dollar enterprise, although Sword Ciboodle represents a small fraction of that total.

The company focuses primarily on serving the financial services, retail energy, retail telecommunications, media, and consumer goods sectors. Among its top telecom customers are BT (one of the world's leading communications services companies), Vodafone Libertel B.V. (one of the largest mobile telecom companies in the Netherlands), Telekomsel (one of the world's leading communications services companies), Smart Telecom (Ireland), AAPT (Australia), Eircom (Ireland), KPN (Dutch), and Telecom (New Zealand). Its customer lists in other sectors contain some well known brands and leading companies as well.

Sword Ciboodle is a global CRM system with some capabilities for regional localization and Language Packs available in French, Italian, Dutch, German and Spanish. Language Packs are separate from the processes and user interface elements, allowing for the language used in the interface to be changed depending on user preference or location. However, Gartner reports that "the geographic scope of the product's availability seems limited primarily to English speaking geographies."

Ciboodle is widely considered to be one of the best standalone customer service products (meaning not part of a bigger offering from a large vendor) for contact centers. It delivers its Cloud based application through a number of partners such as IBM, Fujistu, CSC, and e-Loyalty.

In November, 2011, the company further advanced its partnership with technology services giant CSC to develop a comprehensive program combining CSC's experience in CRM, BI and the cloud with Sword Ciboodle's customer engagement solutions. Specifically, it combines the full Sword Ciboodle suite with CSC's High Performance Contact Center (HCC) methodologies, tools and solutions. This is marked progress towards next generation contact center management (meaning moving contact centers from cost centers to profit centers) and mitigates several of Sword Ciboodle's heretofore weaknesses.

The Sword Ciboodle and CSC collaboration offer new capabilities that include:

  • A single logical operating model, delivered across redundant physical locations designed for operational and service excellence. Each location contains standardized and shared processes, applications, telephony platforms and administrative capabilities.
  • The ability to proactively interact with customers with a consolidated view of customers and processes.
  • A choice of universal, dedicated or virtual agents with Unified reporting, metrics and command and control capabilities across all contact centers.
  • Self-service and mobile access options for customer interaction.

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