Cisco Systems announced today that it will acquire privately held WebLine Communications, a provider of Web-based customer-service tools. The deal is valued at $325 million and is expected to close after Nov. 1.
WebLine's products include Web collaboration and E-mail-management tools. The collaboration software enables two-way sharing of Web pages, forms, applications, or voice calls using a Web browser. For example, in a customer-service environment the software works by synchronizing the Web pages of the customer and the service representative, allowing them to troubleshoot problems together.
The E-mail management tool tracks incoming customer messages, similar to tracking phone calls in a customer-service center, and manages routing and response.
Blair Pleasant, an analyst with the Pelorus Group, a telecommunications market research and consulting firm, believes the acquisition will strengthen Cisco's product line. "Companies are changing from call centers to contact centers," she says. Being able to address customer concerns through the medium with which customers are most comfortable is key to sales and customer retention, Pleasant says. "The goal is to turn shoppers into buyers."
WebLine's products will be integrated with call-center technology that Cisco picked up with the April acquisition of GeoTel Communications.