Customer Intelligence (CI) has become a critical tool for organizations looking to gain a competitive edge in customer engagement and satisfaction. By collecting, analyzing, and leveraging customer data at scale, businesses can make informed decisions that will help them better understand their customers’ needs and preferences. With the rise of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP), customer insights have become more accessible than ever before. As a result, the number of Customer Intelligence Platforms available today proliferates, with more sophisticated tools emerging each year. This article will discuss the top 13 customer intelligence platforms in 2023 across various subcategories, such as sales intelligence, product intelligence, health score tools, productivity tools, and support intelligence.
Customer Intelligence (CI) collects and analyzes key customer-generated data to glean crucial insights, risks, trends, and opportunities. CI is heavy on integrations and often uses advanced data sciences like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP).
CI is about data — some you may have already been using and new data now available thanks to technological advances. To grasp the magnitude of Customer Intelligence, imagine if you could unite and analyze all your customer interactions — emails, tickets, chats, call transcripts, and community data. Now imagine harmonizing this new knowledge stream with data in your CRM, CSPs, and usage tracking systems to create new analytical frameworks, reports, dashboards, and critical workflows. That is the essence of Customer Intelligence.
It goes without saying that core to any commercially viable CI solution is a sophisticated data privacy element. While our customers want you to use their feedback, suggestions, and more to improve the value they derive from your products and services, they also expect solutions built for the privacy-first era. They want you to fix bugs, make your product less confusing, build critical features and service them better. CI means better listening — active listening.
The proliferation of Customer Intelligence platforms doesn’t come as a surprise. Customer Experience has emerged as a top concern amongst business leaders, with more than 87% of senior business leaders indicating that customer experience is the leading growth engine for their businesses. The investment community has also taken a keen interest in Customer Intelligence-related startups pumping billions of dollars into the space in the past 48 months. The funding has been distributed across a variety of categories and line-of-business-focused segments. Let’s break CI down into a more digestible conversation.
Customer Intelligence is quickly growing into a broad category. Our research taught us that a burgeoning ecosystem of CI categories and segment-specific platforms go deep to solve unique customer-related challenges. Nearly every Customer Intelligence solution leverages advanced data sciences to provide a missing layer to today’s B2B GTM stack. Based on conversations with over 100 B2B product and customer leaders, the most beneficial systems are those that create a System of Intelligence. But no matter the application, it is clear that leaders are looking for deeper insights with which to create more durable and profitable customer relationships.
US-based Sturdy represents a strong example of an innovative, commercially-ready, Customer Intelligence solution. Sturdy collects unstructured data sources like customer emails, tickets, chats, meetings, community data, and more via public APIs. It then restructures the data while also anonymizing it to address privacy concerns. The “clean” data is combined with other data sources like CRM data and then is unified into one searchable system that every team can use. Sturdy consolidates hundreds, sometimes thousands, of data silos, then employs AI, NLP, and ML to surface essential signals and themes that help teams improve products, relationships, and revenue. The platform has a no-code automation engine and a suite of APIs (Sturdy’s Data Exhaust) to route essential data and insights to the people, teams, and systems that need them most.
CI systems like Sturdy can transform massive amounts of unstructured data (think email) into knowledge delivered autonomously to any business unit, team, person, or system. Sturdy makes insights accessible to end users and back-office analytics teams alike. Leaders are investing in AI-forward systems of intelligence because they see it as paving the path to taking customer-centricity to the next level.
Customer and product leaders.
Sturdy doesn’t list pricing on their website, stating, "Sturdy’s business plan is based on the volume of data you process and the Signals you use. We tailor our plans to best fit your needs, so please contact us for a custom quote.” It’s also worth noting that Sturdy has enterprise and SMB “quick start” plans.
The most mature category of CI products are those designed for sales and other pre-revenue teams. The leader in the space, Gong.io, has pioneered the Revenue Intelligence category, which is closely related to Customer Intelligence. Sales-focused CI solutions primarily analyze recorded sales calls for coaching opportunities and conversational insights about customer buying behaviors.
Gong makes mention that their platform can support customer success and marketing teams by focusing on moving them “closer to revenue.” Gong also can help managers use conversational insights to identify coaching opportunities for remote workers, as it seems with this entire category.
Sales and RevOps Leaders at SMB and enterprise companies with significant BDR and corporate-level sales teams.
Gong has a lot of great content on their site for sales and RevOps pros, but, like most others, they don’t provide pricing information. However, their site says pricing is based on an annual platform fee and the volume of recorded calls. Others to watch in this category are Invoca and Databook. Both are taking innovative approaches to provide sales teams with Customer Intelligence.
Invoca, like Gong.io, is a sales-focused platform that analyzes transcripts from sales calls to surface opportunities. The Invoca solution is called center-ready, and they list large customers like Verizon, Robert Half, and 1-800-Junk on their website. AI-forward technology provides the power to analyze all sales conversations, and the user interface provides multiple views of the overall prospect's journey and, often, beyond.
Sales, Call Center, and RevOps Leaders at B2C companies with larger agent-based, sales call centers.
Invoca offers plans for both brands & agencies and pay-per-call marketers. They offer Pro, Enterprise, and Elite tiers in the former and Performance Professional and Enterprise in the latter. Neither list pricing on the website.
Another player in the sales-focused category is Databook. Databook provides “strategic enablement for account-based selling,” allowing teams to focus on more “doing” and less “planning.” Databook’s website classifies strategic enablement as “the art of leveraging information, process, and technology to successfully craft the strategies needed to drive effective sales execution.” This is all to say that they provide data to better inform and optimize your account-based sales process.
To accomplish this, Databook leverages its proprietary data sciences tech to analyze publicly available data. It crawls all your accounts to provide and finds and ranks prospective accounts. Databook positions itself as an Enterprise Customer Intelligence Platform — another system of intelligence — to help you close more deals.
Sales and RevOps Leaders at B2B companies with account-based sales and marketing motions.
Databook does not provide any pricing information on its website. You can request a free demo on their contact us page.
In addition to sales-focused CI, the support-focused call center category is very well represented in funding and product maturity. Companies like Observe.AI, Balto, and Forethought have raised $358MM to analyze interactions like support tickets and agent-managed phone calls. These solutions seek to reveal coaching opportunities, quality of service issues, sentiment, and compliance matters.
Observe.ai is a noteworthy solution in the Support / Call Center Intelligence subcategory. The platform analyzes agent calls and tickets. Then, using its proprietary conversation intelligence engine, it looks for what they call Moments, out-of-the-box and customer-defined themes. Consolidated views of all agent conversations and Moments give leaders good visibility into coaching/training and quality of service issues.
Call Center, Support, and Service Operations Leaders at B2C and B2B companies with larger agent-based support call centers.
Observe.ai does not provide any pricing information on its website. Instead, the company offers live demonstrations to walk prospective customers through the platform and its features based on various use cases.
Leaders evaluating Observe.ai should also consider evaluating Balto. Balto’s conversational intelligence solutions offer benefits to agents, supervisors, and leadership with the goal of improving agent performance. Their AI enables companies to train and onboard their agents faster with prescriptive content suggestions and triggers that alert supervisors of critical moments and coaching opportunities. Balto promises to ensure that “your agents will say the right thing on every call,” real-time guidance is programmed to assist agents with the next best actions and workflows. Balto’s secret sauce is the real-time alerts that managers receive when agents need assistance allowing teams to be as proactive as possible.
Call Center, Support, and Service Operations Leaders with larger agent-based call centers at B2C and B2B companies.
As with the norm, Balto does not provide specific pricing information but allows prospects to elect for personalized demos.
Product Intelligence is another healthy category of the Customer Intelligence space. These solutions aim to serve product and user experience teams with customer-generated insights related to product adoption and roadmap suggestions. Pendo and Aha! have been at it the longest and focus on collecting usage data and surveys. While an up-and-comer, Enterpret is building the next generation of customer feedback intelligence by leveraging the voice of the customer.
Pendo is a category leader in the Product Intelligence segment. It combines your product’s feedback, analytics, and in-app guides into one workspace. Pendo solicits and collects qualitative and quantitative data to understand customer engagement and product efficacy. With tools to impact and measure product engagement to deliver content to users at critical junctures like onboarding, Pendo is a feature-rich product intelligence solution. This maturity extends to Pendo’s commercial motions. In short, they have plans and associated feature bundles to fit small start-ups and enterprises alike.
Product Management, Product Operations, Product Marketing, and Operations leaders at small and large B2B and B2C companies.
Pendo is one of the few vendors that offers detailed pricing information on their website featuring four separate plans: Free, Starter, Growth, and Portfolio. While the freemium offering allows users to get a taste of the power of Pendo, it offers a scant limit of 500 monthly active users (meaning your product users), product analytics, and in-app guides.
The Starter package increases monthly active users to 2,000 and adds their Net Promoter Score (NPS) tool. This package costs $7,000 a year. In addition to these offerings, Pendo’s Growth plan provides Sentiment analytics and can be used in a single web or mobile app. And finally, Pendo’s Portfolio package allows users to use the software across unlimited web and mobile apps. In addition to sentiment analytics, it provides cross-app reports and portfolio summaries.
Where Pendo focuses on customer feedback, Aha! provides a platform for product road mapping. More of an ideation and product creation platform for product managers than feedback analysis play, it’s a surprise to us that Aha! doesn’t integrate out-of-the-box with Pendo. Integrating Pendo data requires a Zapier integration.
The Aha! suite offers a collaborative seven-step framework for the product development process The first step establishes a clear vision and goals. The Ideate phase captures brainstorms and crowdsourced ideas. The Plan phase helps users prioritize, estimate value, and manage capacity. Showcase allows users to share roadmaps and go-to-market plans. The Build phase allows users to deliver new functionality through agile development. The Launch step brings these new features to market. Lastly, the Analyze phase allows you to see your product come to life by tracking customer usage.
Product Management and Engineering leaders at small and large B2B and B2C companies.
Like Pendo, Aha! also offers a freemium option for their Aha! Create, a digital notebook for product builders. Interestingly enough, Aha! offers a free 30-day trial for its premium products. This allows users to access all features, easily invite colleagues to collaborate, and does not require a credit card upfront. Following the free trial, the Aha! Develop offers an agile tool for healthy development teams at $9 per user per month. Aha! Ideas is a comprehensive idea management tool that starts at $39 per user per month. Last but not least, the Aha! Roadmaps offering starts at $59 per user per month.
Enterpret, similar to Pendo, is building a customer feedback platform. Unlike Pendo’s approach, which leverages data from surveys and other solicitations, Enterpret looks at external reviews and internal interactions like support tickets. The platform then allows users to create and search a taxonomy to find and track product insights. Enterpret is equipped with semantic search capabilities making it easy to query keywords and topics. Their core offering aims to help teams prioritize product roadmaps, discover product gaps, and detect quality issues. The company was founded by software engineers and backed by notable investors.
Product Management and Engineering leaders at SaaS companies.
There is no pricing information available on the Enterpret site. Like many others listed above, prospective customers can fill out a demo form for more information.
Productivity-focused CI apps like Theysaid.io (FKA ‘Nuffsaid) and Retain.ai help customer success teams understand which customers need the most attention and which are black holes for your resources. For example, Theysaid.io uses a proprietary engine to prioritize tasks that matter most and log information to other systems without app-switching. This might be particularly useful to teams that use an “at scale” or “one to many” approach to manage customers.
TheySaid bills itself as a modern approach to customer success platforms. Customer interactions are consolidated in a single workspace. The analysis is done on the aggregate data to find trends. Customers are asked questions as they interact with products gathering inputs that make up quantitative trends. When a trend hits defined thresholds, workflows are kicked off. This can be particularly helpful for teams that employ a one-to-many approach.
Users of TheySaid create role-specific questions vetted by third-party experts and sent at specific times during the customer journey. Risks are then scored and given a label. TheySaid state on their website that getting started takes just a few hours.
Customer Success Leaders are at SMBs that have not leveraged a traditional customer success platform.
Although no pricing information is offered on the website, the demo form states that prospective customers can try TheySaid for free.
Like Theysaid, Retain.ai aims to create a single source of record for every customer. And, like TheySaid, getting started is quite easy. Just select what applications, workflows, pages, and attributes you want Retain.ai to track. Have your teams install a browser plugin, and the system starts tracking things like time-to-serve, engagement, team productivity, and more. Customers receive a holistic view of customer engagement across all systems view dashboards. Retain.ai has some sample case studies on its website, but it's unclear what market segment the product is geared towards.
Customer Success Leaders at B2C companies (based on their sample case studies).
The Retain.ai website does not provide any pricing information. Those interested in learning more can fill out their demo form.
Arguably, customer health score solutions appear more as an output of Customer Intelligence than a category. These solutions target SMB buyers who haven’t adopted a more robust customer success platform. Companies like Akita and Involve.ai analyze product usage, NPS, the number of support tickets, and customer sentiment and then, with the help of data science, ascribe a health score to your accounts. Similar to Theysaid, Involve.ai takes it further by recommending playbooks once an account reaches a certain health threshold.
Akita is the go-to customer success software for SaaS businesses. Akita provides a hub for telemetry-based customer data, activity, and metrics. Beyond storing all the information, it lets customers set up unlimited alerts when certain criteria are met. Like Involve.ai, automated playbooks can be triggered in response to customer behaviors or attributes. This frees up valuable time to focus on high-value tasks. Beyond this automation lies Akita’s task management capabilities, built to provide a single and simple interface for workflows. Thinks of this as a workspace for CSMs
Customer Success Leaders
Akita offers three transparent pricing options. Start, Connect, and Customize offerings can be purchased on a monthly or annual subscription. Prospective customers are incentivized to go annual by saving 20% after 12 months. The Start plan offers basic features and costs $160/month (if billed annually) for up to three users. Each additional user costs $47.20 per month. The Connect Plan offers “powerful integrations for a scalable customer success strategy.” This plan costs $480 per month (again, if billed annually). Similar to the Start plan, this plan includes three users, with each additional user costing $63.20 per month. Last but not least is the Customize plan. This option requires connecting with an Akita representative to learn more about their advanced integrations. Before committing to any of these plans, however, prospective customers can test Akita out on a free 14-day trial. This free trial includes unlimited user licenses, playbooks, custom segments, and health scores.
Involve.ai touts that they’re an early warning system to predict churn and upsell opportunities. Their platform is built to help customers capture and analyze customer sentiment. After organizing and analyzing customer sentiment, Involve delivers actionable insights regarding retention, churn risk and upsell opportunities. Additionally, Involve provides customers with an actionable customer health score powered by their proprietary AI model built to analyze customers’ qualitative and quantitative data. Like Akita, Involve provides automated workflows and playbooks to maximize team efficiency.
Customer Success Leaders at SMBs that have yet to adopt a customer success platform
Involve.ai doesn’t provide a specific pricing breakdown but a tool that hints at potential costs based on the number of clients and revenue. For example, a company with a $5MM ARR, 2% Annual Churn Rate ($100,000), and fifty customers can expect to pay $12,000 annually for Involve.ai.
By now, it’s clear that Customer Intelligence is a diverse and quickly evolving market. This list is not exhaustive. The common theme for all the systems mentioned here is data centricity. They all hinge on getting data in one place and analyzing it to provide better insights about customer behaviors.
Whether you’re already sold on the value of Customer Intelligence or looking for ways to take your customer relationships to the next level, check out these key considerations you need to know about choosing the right Customer Intelligence platform to accelerate your goals.
We’re still in the early innings of CI. The challenges to achieving the potential are eroding as quickly as the technical capabilities are evolving, creating a new must-have system for the modern post-sale tech stack. Many organizations aren’t aware of how rapidly it’s evolving and may not realize the benefits Customer Intelligence can bring to various teams in their companies.
As we look ahead to 2023, it's clear that Customer Intelligence will continue to be one of the most essential tools businesses can use to stay competitive and understand their customers better. By leveraging customer data through CI platforms, companies are able to make informed decisions that will help them improve customer engagement and drive sales and revenue retention. They ultimately increase customer satisfaction levels across all channels to ensure your customers grow with you, not away from you.
Investments from Grotech Ventures and other strategic partners to support sales and marketing expansion and research and development of the company’s AI-led customer intelligence and automation capabilities
When we started Sturdy, the idea was simple, “the way we record and monitor customer feedback is insane. It has to change”. So we decided to tackle customer email first. Along the way, we realized we had built the first “Customer Email Intelligence Platform.” Throughout this journey, we learned that a Customer Email Intelligence platform must do four things very well, all at once.