• May 29, 2008
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

RightNow Starts Flipping Through Channels

RightNow Technologies on Tuesday released May '08, the latest version of its on-demand CRM system. True to the company's roots as a customer-service specialist, RightNow May '08 adds another dose of enterprise feedback management (EFM) to its list of capabilities. RightNow had previously integrated feedback into its phone, email, and Web channel support; the addition and integration of chat makes RightNow's multichannel capabilities that much more multi.

RightNow May '08 can trigger a survey after an online chat interaction with a service agent, according to the company. Feedback can also be gathered from anonymous online consumers; RightNow suggests someone who recently abandoned a shopping cart as a likely subject. The compiled results are subjected to trend analysis or whatever analytics process the user prefers, while individual responses are added to existing customer profiles.

"By adding the survey capabilities to chat, our May '08 release is the first on-demand CRM solution to include complete enterprise feedback management capabilities that cover all customer touch points," said David Vap, RightNow's vice president of products, in a statement. "Many of our consumer-centric clients are leveraging chat as an efficient and cost-effective way to deliver superior customer experiences; by adding survey capabilities to our chat solution, we are helping these organizations get the very most value out of every customer interaction."

Modern CRM methods must include real customer communication that flows in both directions, capturing what has become known as "the voice of the customer" -- individualized real-world interactions instead of models and focus groups. "Companies are increasingly turning to customers' feedback to gauge and improve customer service performance," says Zachary McGeary, associate analyst with Jupiter Research. "In turn, consumers are overwhelmingly responding by providing feedback across a variety of channels."

This phenomenon is especially important because of the growing complexity of business relationships, the increasing sophistication of products sold online, and the rising overall volume of online interactions and transactions. "Companies must continue to optimize each and every touch point during coming years just to maintain a steady or growing rate of satisfaction," McGeary says. "The key challenge for service organizations will be honing their ability to address a growing volume of inquires regarding an ever-broadening spectrum of increasingly complicated service and support issues. Collecting and extracting actionable intelligence from every customer interaction will become paramount to continued success."

"Enterprise feedback management helps organizations act on the voice of their customers across all frontline touch-points, to more quickly and easily identify and solve customer issues that may drive decisions about potential market opportunities," said Jim Davies, research director for CRM with research firm Gartner, in a statement. "As customers are increasingly looking to engage with companies via multiple channels, vendors will need to respond by embedding multichannel functionality into their solutions to support a comprehensive feedback strategy."

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