Sprinklr takes on the big boys of customer experience

It’s a busy space with some high-profile players, so you’d be forgiven for being unaware of Sprinklr.

Sprinkler watering grass
Michael Mol (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

So-called customer experience management (CXM) is a general term for technology solutions that help companies deliver all of the stuff that faces their customer -- marketing, advertising, support services and the actually commercial transaction functions.

Different vendors approach it in different ways. Adobe, for example, comes to it from a creative perspective and goes heavy on the content creation tools. Salesforce and Microsoft, by comparison, have their start in CXM in the customer-relationship management aspects and hence are heavier on this more transactional area. But whichever way they approach it, increasingly the big technology vendors are thinking about what CXM means for them and how they can grasp the huge market opportunity that exists.

One company that doesn’t normally appear in the examples alongside Microsoft, Salesforce, Adobe and the other big players is Sprinklr. The company calls itself a $1.8 billion startup -- something of a contradiction from what I know of the startup world. No matter the nomenclature, who is this Sprinklr crowd?

The company has a presence in 150 countries and involvement with 1,200 customers including such high-profile ones as Nike, McDonald’s, Microsoft (!), P&G and Samsung. Sprinklr’s 1200 employees help these customers create customer experiences across the myriad of different social channels available to them. And while relatively unknown, it’s still a real player, having raised around a quarter of a billion dollars in investment in the few years since its founding.

The company is today announcing five extensions to its CXM offering with specific tailored solutions for the different customer-facing parts of a business -- marketing, advertising, research, care and commerce. While individual solutions that work on a standalone basis, they all fall under a consistent global platform. Thus Sprinklr is fulfilling both the point solution requirement, and the broad horizontal platform one.

In its briefing notes related to the launch, Sprinklr is quick to differentiate the situation today from when it was founded back in 2009:

“When Sprinklr was founded, most enterprises thought the rise of social meant finding a way to 'manage' the proliferation of new channels. Today, they’re realizing something more. They’re seeing that social is really about managing the disruption caused by connected customers who trust one another more than they trust brands; who expect to be known and served on-demand and on their terms; and who advocate and criticize with equal and forceful power.”

All good stuff. But what are the platform requirements to handle this new, more mature, complex and nuanced relationship? According to Sprinklr it’s all about plugging email and CRM into the experience platform and thereby reducing the silos that exist in terms of customer data -- by combining all of this information, Sprinklr suggests that data can be extracted and placed alongside the human context that only social can provide to create a comprehensive view of each customer -- one that recognizes them not as data points, but as a person.

So all of that is a long-winded way of saying that these five new discrete offerings all help, in their specific areas, to combine and connect customer information to enable more targeted and, hence, more effective engagement. Building influence, better targeting, tighter personalization and more effective planning all drops out of that.

MyPOV

It’s very hard to simultaneously talk about the efficiencies of a cohesive platform and also push the idea of discrete solutions. Every larger vendor struggles with this -- but whereas a Microsoft or a Salesforce has sufficient cloud to overcome the potential messaging difficulties around a vast and sprawling platform, Sprinklr doesn’t have quite that impact yet. It is, therefore, articulating a message which, by definition, is somewhat contradictory.

That’s not to say that what Sprinklr is offering doesn’t have value -- it certainly does. But unless you’re a customer who is implementing the entire platform across every part of your customer-facing footprint, you’re going to find it hard to avoid those silos and issues that Sprinklr talks about.

Time will tell how effective they are at resolving those issues.

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