E-business software supplier Siebel has rejected claims by customers and research of poor customer service, citing its own research in its defence.
Its own reference customers have blasted the company as "arrogant" and said its software was poor value for money - with lengthy and complex implementations - that in some cases even failed to work properly. Worse still, Siebel was savaged for poor customer service.
And, separately, a customer contacted by vnunet.com said that the three years spent installing Siebel had been "a complete nightmare".
Siebel took "two to three weeks to respond to calls", said Wale Omiyale, chief knowledge officer at UK market researchers Future Information Research Management.
"We were constantly told that the issues would be addressed in future releases," said Omiyale. "We are ready to ditch it," he added.
Omiyale's complaint comes on the back of two pieces of damning independent research. Last week Nucleus Research released findings from a survey among 66 companies listed on Siebel's website as reference customers. Of those who responded, 61 per cent reported no return on investment (ROI).
Customers told Nucleus of "arrogant" service staff and "astronomical" consulting charges. One customer was reported on Siebel's site as having said their deployment went smoothly and on time.
But Nucleus reported that, when interviewed, the same customer said the implementation took longer than planned.
"They couldn't finish it. We couldn't do it ourselves," he said in a statement in the Nucleus report. "The Siebel alliance partner didn't have adequate resources and they ended up fighting with Siebel because the project wasn't going smoothly."
This summer, research among readers of three VNU titles - IT Week, Computing and Financial Director - reported similar experiences. In the ImageTrak research, a study on brand satisfaction, readers rated Siebel bottom overall.
Customers considered Siebel neither a technology leader nor trusted supplier.
But Siebel has dismissed both sets research as unrepresentative. The motives and methodology of the Nucleus survey were "questionable", said Neil Morgan, the company's European vice president of marketing.
"We did a huge survey of our customers and the responses are very consistent. For example, the majority are seeing ROI in the range of 10 to 12 months," he said.
Morgan admitted he had not seen the research in detail, but added that Siebel's own research did "justice" to its customer service efforts.
Kevin Lucas, senior analyst at AMR Research, said all available evidence showed that Siebel does take customer services "very seriously". But he cautioned against taking the company's claims at face value.
"Our own calls to end users have not managed to substantiate Siebel's figures," he said.
Part of the reason for Siebel's increasingly poor reputation may result from the type of clients it has taken on. Siebel is very big in contact centres, said Lucas.
This sort of project is inherently complex because of the number of back-office systems and third-party systems with which implementations have to integrate, he added.
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