Customer experience management vendor RightNow Technologies is keeping its head in the social game. With its February '10 release, the vendor is delivering on some of the promises made at its fall user conference in which social will become a key tenet of business. "This release is fundamentally about deepening the integrations of social with the rest of the platform stack even further," says RightNow vice president (and former HiveLive CEO) John Kemble. RightNow acquired Kemble's social networking company HiveLive in September.
Central to the late-winter release are updates to its Cloud Monitor technology and integration among RightNow customer and employee communities.
Cloud Monitor: First introduced in May, RightNow's monitoring technology allows a company to keep a close ear to social conversations. The vendor has updated the monitoring to include further channels.
- Cloud Monitor for RSS - Agents can now search and monitor RSS-compliant sites such as blogs.
- Cloud Monitor for RightNow Community - Customer service agents are able to search and monitor RightNow Communities
- Incident Creation - Taking action on insights has become an important step in monitoring conversations. RightNow gives agents a tool to easily create an Incident from within a Cloud Monitor response dialog.
According to Forrester Research Senior Analyst Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, monitoring as a feature within the actual CRM suite offers benefits, but specialized monitoring companies such as Radian6 and Visible Technologies have a two-year head start over the full-suite vendors now looking to add those pieces."You are seeing companies like RightNow realize the need to monitor," Petouhoff says. "They are beginning to mimic [these] capabilities."
Community Integration: RightNow has taken additional steps to "socialize the knowledgebase." Not only can agents tap into customer knowledge to use as support, but social tools such as the voting up of questions and answers can help in determining the importance of various issues.
- Discussion threads - Users can comment on answers, and rate and move up answers they think are the best.
- Widgets - Companies can embed a number of widgets on the customer portal to display content or support answers.
- Embed answers - Answer links and content can be embedded within a community post.
- Contact profiles - A member's profile data can be seen within the Contacts console. Users can see a contact's reputation by posts, status, and the last log-in time.
"Now consumers can assist in the knowledge creation and maintenance by commenting and rating answers," Petouhoff explains. "When you set up a [support] community, a best practice is you put the ability to ask the crowd, 'Does this help you?' Then when you see 10,000 people vote on it, that's probably a good answer and you should include that into your traditional knowledge base channels and you should offer it up as a solution." The community integration allows this to happen easily. RightNow is enabling people to vote on the crowdsourced entries, and then is giving the company a process to add that knowledge. RightNow's Smart Sense technology is the workflow behind the integration of the communities and the suite.
"The workflow, Smart Sense technology, that's what's really key," Petouhoff says. "What happened in the past, you might have customers commenting and voting, but then the question is: What is the workflow to get that information into the knowledge base and onto the agent desktop?"
Petouhoff says the RightNow integrations allow customer service departments to bring in social elements without weighing heavily on workload. "What often happens to contact center managers is they are already in overwhelm, so it could look like we have added another channel and the channel is more unwieldy and precarious and more misunderstood than the current channels," she says. For this reason, vendors such as RightNow are working on the underlying workflow and enabling self-service to alleviate some of the possible tension.
Petouhoff says RightNow is acting upon its social promises at its fall user-conference. "Not only are they changing the applications, but they have made a commitment to change the way they work with their own customers," she says.
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