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Keeping Busy with RightNow Technology

I’ve just spent (and am still spending) a busy and informative demi-week at the RightNow Summit in lovely Colorado Springs, and I’m glad I came. Greg Gianforte and company are doing some very smart things.I’ve dinged RightNow in the past for sometimes lacking in effective media/analyst outreach, but that appears to no longer be the case, and the timing is excellent.

The reason for my enthusiasm is that RightNow’s message of customer experience is now a product and a strategy, CX. The social CRM and SaaS stars are finally in alignment, and the RightNow CX customer experience suite that Greg G. announced on Tuesday was born under those auspices. My tweets from that morning’s general session will give you some idea of what RightNow CX is all about, but I’ll summarize it here in a more coherent fashion. I’ve got to rely on text because I’m having trouble getting slides to work, but bullet lists are clear enough.

From the ground up, there are five main components of RightNow CX, each containing part of the package. RightNow CX Platform is the technology that supports the traditional CRM functions of RightNow Engage, which in turn supports the three customer experience components (Web Experience, Social Experience, and Contact Center Experience). Thus,

RightNow CX Platform

  • Knowledge management
  • Integration
  • Mission-critical SaaS (more about this later)

RightNow Engage

  • Marketing
  • Voice of the Customer
  • Sales
  • Analytics

RightNow Web Experience

  • Customer Portal (including Web self-service and mobile)
  • Chat and Co-Browse
  • Email Management
  • Web Experience Design

RightNow Social Experience

  • Support communities
  • Innovation communities
  • Cloud monitoring
  • Social experience design

RightNow Contact Center Experience

  • Phone and multichannel interaction management
  • Case management
  • Voice automation
  • Contact center experience design (including desktop workflow, agent scripting, and contextual workspaces)

Mission-critical SaaS includes something the company is calling Invisible Updates, with elimination of downtime as the goal. The concept appears similar to Salesforce.com’s 5-minute upgrades, but RightNow is aiming for true seamlessness. It also prides itself on having always provided service level agreements with teeth—the company cuts checks for its customers when downtime exceeds what’s spelled out in the SLA. It’ll be fun to see how the two rivals stack up in this matter.

A lot of the new customer experience functionality, especially the knowledge base and Social Experience parts, are the fruit of RightNow’s acquisition of HiveLive in September of this year, followed by what must be the fastest assimilation of technology since Star Trek introduced the Borg. A six-week turnaround from acquisition to deployment was unheard of before this, as far as I know.

RightNow takes the position that customer experience is everything, and is making “ridding the world of bad experiences” its goal. The path to achieving this leads through the contact center, and recognizes the power of the customer to make or break a business no matter how good the products might be. Numbers from the 2009 Customer Experience Impact Report (commissioned by RightNow from Harris Interactive) back this up:

  • 86% of consumers will never go back to a company after a bad customer experience
  • 60% will always or often pay more for a better customer experience (up from 58% in 2008)
  • 82% who had a bad customer experience told others about it (up from 67% in 2006)
  • 53% will recommend a company to someone else because they provide outstanding service

To illustrate the potential impact of one bad experience, we were treated to one more showing of the “United Breaks Guitars” video—but with a twist, because Dave Carroll (the creator) took the stage partway through to finish out the song and give us a first-hand account of his experiences. As he finished up, he revealed what I’d call PR gold for him and RightNow: Carroll’s only option for getting to the conference was to fly United, and the airline lost his luggage. If you listen carefully, you can hear United’s market capitalization dropping even further than the $180 million attributed to the initial incident.

If RightNow CX Platform is as good as it looks, and the company is true to its word, 2010 could very well be RightNow’s year. Every single one of Greg G’s customer visits in the past three to four months (he’s done more than 300 customer visits in the past 18 months) has had social CRM as a focus—driven by the customers, pulling RightNow into the conversation. That’s encouraging to me, since I’d hate to have established a practice in a field nobody cares about. :-)

You’ll also be glad to know that I am now officially Huge On Twitter, at least as far as the PR team from Horn Group and RightNow Technology is concerned. I hope to continue living up to the accolade.