RightNow Takes Aim at Customer Service 2.0

In what its executives are calling a continuation of a longheld focus on “consumer-centric CRM”, Bozeman, Mont.-based on-demand customer service solution provider RightNow Technologies has expanded its foray into Web 2.0 technologies with its latest quarterly release, August ’08.

Andrew Hull, RightNow’s vice president of marketing, explains that this latest release drills into the third of four pillars his company stands upon: consumer-centric CRM. “In our world, our customers need very high uptime because consumers interact with them 365 days a year, 24 hours a day,” he says. (RightNow describes its other three "pillars" as e-service leadership, the multichannel contact center, and the RightNow Technology Ecosystem.)

The company highlights three main features driving its August ’08 update:

  • customer portal;
  • capabilities for what the compnay is calling "co-browsing"; and
  • proactive chat.

The customer portal, according to Hull, contains out-of-the-box best practices for online customer self-service that the vendor has accumulated in its 10-year existence. According to additional information provided by company executives, the customer portal also includes Portal Studio, in which companies can use virtually any design program -- Adobe Dreamweaver, for example -- to combine brand elements with Web 2.0 mashups such as videos, forums, and blogs. “Our customer can see user-generated content right next to the company [information],” Hull explains. “I think it builds confidence on both sides, because consumers are increasingly relying on user-generated content as a trusted source for answers. Also, companies will continue to figure out how they balance official answers next to [customer] comments.” In short, he says, the portal is the new release's biggest point of differentiation. “That’s definitely a game-changer for us; it pushes entire market forward,” he declares.

Not everyone agrees. Rob Bois, research director at Boston-based AMR Research, says the real differentiator is the co-browse functionality. “[The customer portal] is a checkbox item; they need to have it at this point in the game,” he explains. “The co-browse [capability is] something that the typical consumer-based company isn’t doing today.”

The co-browse feature gives consumers the option to invite an agent -- whether on the phone or participating in online chat -- to share their desktop for resolving a problem, filling out a form, or guiding them through an online purchase. This gives agents the ability to go beyond just a consumer’s Web browser, extending the service reach out to the entire desktop. Hull says it's important for companies to entrust the proper agents who won’t try to take advantage of other consumer information not related to the task at hand. “The company has to be very confident agents are going to be trustworthy,” he warns. “They could technically restart a person’s computer or do something more malicious.”

Bois says security is always a concern, and RightNow should guide companies in how to best navigate the potentially rocky road. However, he says he doesn’t believe the potential issue will cripple the feature’s adoption. “Anytime there's a new overall reliance on emerging technology, these kinds of questions always tend to come up,” he says. “A lot of these [concerns] will work themselves out over time. At least now they have ability to consume these technologies; that’s half the battle.”

The combination of these types of technologies opens up a world in which the customer can dictate the nature of the interaction with businesses, according to Bois. “This is a big challenge for organizations looking at enriching the customer experience, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” he stresses, saying preferences can vary by generation, demographics, and even by geographic location. “Unfortunately, a lot of organizations have taken a static approach...in the past by throwing more human resources at the problem. [Many times], the best experience is whatever gets you information the fastest...so you need to have these multiple channels in place.”

Bearing this in mind, Bois says RightNow is positioned well competitively with August ’08. “The theme of this release is about pushing the envelope on those emerging technologies [that] consumer-centric organizations are increasingly going to be looking for to differentiate in its cross-channel service,” he says. “RightNow is doing whatever it can to stay ahead of curve. Clearly this is something [the company] is serious about.”

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues

Related Articles

RightNow Challenges Cloud Competitors

CEO Greg Gianforte introduces the vendor's new Cloud Service Agreement and calls out CRM competitors for not delivering on the true promises of software-as-a-service.

RightNow Brings Cloud Monitoring to the Suite

With its February '10 release, the customer experience vendor deepens its social functions, bridges communities, and expands monitoring features.

Brand Lessons Learned from Mickey Mouse

RightNow Summit '09: A closing keynote address examines the strategies Disney utilizes to deliver on its brand promise.

RightNow Makes Experience Its Mission

RightNow Summit '09: In his opening keynote address, founder and CEO Greg Gianforte outlined the company's plan to rid world of bad experiences.

RightNow Dives into Deeper Functionality

RightNow Technologies continues to target larger contact centers, with its August '09 edition offering expanded graphical workflow capabilities and trending/analytics features.

RightNow's May '09 Edition Introduces Cloud Monitoring

RightNow Technologies' latest release provides the company's answer to social media and customer service.

Can Cloud Computing Get "Army Strong"?

RightNow Technologies unveils high-security software-as-a-service capabilities compliant with the Department of Defense's standards.

RightNow Registers with Manufacturers

The vendor's latest release includes self-service product registration, tailored to streamline and improve customer service.

RightNow Puts the Pieces Together

The on-demand customer experience solution provider's latest quarterly release makes it ready to release a one-stop enterprise contact center package.

The Never-Ending Customer Service Journey

RightNow Summit '08: Ultimate customer centricity -- the "faultless journey" -- relies on integrated multichannel communications, an Expedia executive says.

RightNow Pushes Customer Experience Global

RightNow Summit '08: CEO Greg Gianforte calls customer experience the final frontier of differentiation.

Forrester Research Finds Disservice in Self-Service

Customers still want to speak to live agents, but companies aren't making it easy for either side, according to a new report.

RightNow's Latest Release Puts Things in Context

The on-demand supplier of customer service solutions targets contact center efficiency.

RightNow Embraces Web 2.0

The Montana-based CRM software provider unveils the November '07 edition of its flagship product, replete with trendy new features.

RightNow Partners for a Mashup

The Bozeman bunch signs partnerships with Demandware and Cast Iron Systems to expand its e-commerce and integration capabilities.

On the Scene: Gianforte Talks CRM

The industry rebel -- and founder and chief executive officer of RightNow Technologies -- sits down for a chat.

RightNow Starts Flipping Through Channels

RightNow Technologies' latest release adds chat and surveys to its multichannel customer-care arsenal, seeking to capture the voice of the customer.

Buyer's Guide Companies Mentioned