Before people started to utilize the Internet for their purchasing decisions, the local store workers were the manufacturing companies' product experts. They were the go-betweens and helped with any issues customers had with their purchases. Now the tables have turned, and individuals expect the actual manufacturer of the product to have all the product information necessary.
This need provides the main focus for the latest release from Bozeman, Mont.-based customer experience vendor RightNow Technologies, according to Andrew Hull, the company's director of product marketing. He explains that new product registration capabilities headlining the updated RightNow February '09 offering tap into the trend of consumers going directly to the manufacturer when they need help or servicing.
"This certainly wasn't the case 10 years ago when we went back to the store for help," Hull says of the growing trend. "When consumers come back to the manufacturer selling the product, it's always nice to have a thoughtful, well-designed process to capture the information. There are so many great things companies can do with that data to better service their consumers, and on the customer side there are benefits as well."
According to information provided by RightNow, the new capabilities for product registration in February '09 allow companies to:
- empower customers to take the first step to a better service experience;
- gain a better understanding of consumers and their buying behavior;
- build a more personalized relationship;
- gather feedback to help advance future product development;
- proactively communicate relevant sales and upgrade offers; and
- increase brand loyalty.
Essentially, a consumer can buy a product-for example, a camera-at any desired electronics goods store. If she goes home and needs help with her purchase, she can visit the service/support page on the manufacturer's Web site. A nudge widget will automatically remind her to register the product in order to receive better support.
The reminder, Hull explains, drives the consumer through the process of registering the product. As a result, every time she comes back she can easily see answers related to the product with a click of a button. "If [the user] still can't figure it out, with another click the product information like serial numbers are prepopulated and entered in an incident automatically," Hull says. "It's a quicker process and you don't have to go through selection of what type of product, model, or number you need before submitting an incident to the company."
The product registration capabilities are the main driver in the release, but Hull says there have been other improvements made in February '09, particularly in the chat, marketing, and analytics offerings. "We've talked about our voice of the customer initiative, and pushed the concept of all feedback across different channels, so one of the elements is feedback matrix questions," Hull says of one of the additional enhancements. "We have a new format for laying out the survey questions ... it reflects ongoing investment into polishing different areas of our product."
Zachary McGeary, an analyst at Boston-based Forrester Research, explains February '09 hits a major pain point for many manufacturers today. "The release addresses ... the emerging importance of product ownership data as a strategic resource," he says. "The data can be used for feedback-to gauge product satisfaction and collect suggestions for new features-as well as marketing for upsell, cross-sell, and general awareness of new products and accessories."
Consequently, this presents an entirely new opportunity. "The potential here is limitless," McGeary says. "Manufacturers have been hard-pressed to find a packaged solution to address these needs."
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