Microsoft has acquired Parature, maker of cloud-based software that companies use to create self-service portals for customers.

The move would give Microsoft's customer relationship management platform, Dynamics CRM, a world class self-service knowledge base it can use to connect with customers across multiple channels such as email, the web, chat or social media.

Microsoft has already partnered with Parature but decided to acquire the company because of growing preference among customers for self-service in getting help with products and services.

"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," said Bob Stutz, corporate vice president, Microsoft Dynamics CRM. "Parature is a perfect fit for every business and will enable us to offer customers one of the best cloud-based solutions for customer self-service. This is a compelling combination for organizations committed to delivering the best service experience that consistently exceeds their customers' expectations." 

"We think most customers would prefer self-service than calling an old-school call center and talking to a customer service agent," Fred Studer, general manager of Dynamics product marketing said. Studer also said that following the deal, Parature's roughly 100 employees will be brought into Microsoft.

Company officials declined to give details on the financial terms of the deal. Sources close to the deal, however, say that the acquisition is worth $100 million. Microsoft officials also said that Parature's software will remain cloud-based and will be available both as a standalone service and as a product integrated with Dynamics CRM (on-premises) and CRM Online.

According to analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research, Microsoft's acquisition of Parature is a smart move as this would fill in a key gap for Dynamics CRM. "Microsoft CRM currently has a customer care offering that delivers core customer service with case management, universal queuing and routing, and light scheduling and field service. Parature provides key self-service knowledge base software, core customer service, live chat, mobile access, survey and feedback capabilities, social monitoring, and Facebook portal capabilities to the Microsoft service offering," he wrote in a blog post.

Wang also added that Parature's knowledge base is one of the most modern in the industry. "In head-to-head deals, the Dynamics CRM unit is giving Salesforce.com the most competition," he wrote. "The acquisition of Parature shows that Microsoft is willing to make strategic bets to accelerate time to market of key offerings such as customer care. Parature accelerates Microsoft's efforts in customer care by 24 months."

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