To meet the growing demand for social CRM, RightNow positions itself as a provider of “customer experience management” solutions, a term the company prefers to use, John Kembel, vice president of social solutions, told CRM Buyer.
“That’s a bit more customer-focused,” he pointed out.
RightNow CX, the customer experience suite, helps businesses use social media to maintain that customer focus. Companies have realized that social media has changed the way they deal with customers and is now indispensible, Kembel said. “They realize it’s critical.”
RightNow’s cloud-based solutions weave into a business and help the company “operationalize” social, Kembel explained. RightNow integrates desktop solutions, traditional agents, online agents and social agents. The system can handle all customer interactions, including Web, call center and social networks.
“We do that online,” Kembel noted. “Social is deeply integrated with all that.”
By utilizing Twitter, chat, Web, email, and phone-based customer interactions, RightNow offers a full spectrum of unique social solutions, Kembel stated. Support and innovation communities encourage knowledge collaboration.
“They came at it from an interesting approach,” CRM Essentials cofounder and partner Brent Leary told CRM Buyer.
The CX platform focuses on customer service and the customer experience, Leary said. RightNow bought several other companies in order to acquire social CRM pieces and brought them under their umbrella, he explained.
Listen, Respond, Resolve
RightNow also offers companies a tool that allows them to track social media. Cloud Monitor can monitor the broad social Web as well as individual channels, Kembel said.
This helps companies to control PR flares, resolve issues, and turn them around, he continued, noting that when consumers have a positive resolution to an issue, they can become advocates for a company’s product.
CX for Facebook and Cloud Monitor enable Facebook and Twitter integration, the two channels that are most important to many companies, he said. Questions can also be routed from social networks by social customer service agents who can escalate them from the social channel.
Emerging Social Skilled Agents
Because the commingling of support and sales is becoming more common with the growth of social media, Kembel pointed out, marketing personnel need to partner with customer service people.
Social media is also having an impact on the traditional call center because now consumers are asking questions on new channels. Rather than replacing call centers, social media is being incorporated into call centers as new channels, Kembel explained.
Emerging from this new trend are social skilled agents — CRM agents who know how to review the social media profiles and contact records of customers, he said. Since the agents will have information about the issue beforehand, the customers do not have to repeat themselves each time they speak to a new agent.
The marriage of the infrastructure of the call center to the chatter among customers on social networks represents the best of both worlds and can improve the customer experience, Leary added.
Customers can now get information from mobile devices and Facebook. Companies are now trying to use a full suite of tools to help customers by extending ways to serve them.
If a company maintains an active customer community around its products or services, customers will come to talk and share information with other users, Leary noted. This turns customers into social advocates for products, and the customers become level one support.
By having communities where customers help each other, companies can free up customer service representatives, allowing them to focus on more challenging questions and requests, Leary stated.
In addition to lowering costs, the effort to create robust communities helps companies to scale, because an active community of customers can act as an organic sales team by sharing information that can help sell, he explained.
On social media, support issues can now become public quickly and cause brand value to suffer as a result, Kembel warned. However, social media can also turn a potential public relations flare into something positive if companies learn to utilize social networks to respond.
“You can turn a reputation around,” marketing author Michael Port told CRM Buyer. The key is make people want to follow you. “You can’t buy followers.”
Hosted communities on websites allow companies to engage consumers more deeply by inviting them onto their turf, Kembel explained. Customers who become super-users can become extensions of a company’s support team, which can help bring support costs down and lead to greater product innovation.
To build a community of followers takes some effort, and companies should evaluate the social CRM tools they choose very carefully, Port said.
Make sure the tool facilitates customer interaction and engagement, he advised, adding that most vendors will offer a free trial so a company can test-drive several before choosing one.
Ultimately, Port noted, “the tool is not as important as what you do with it.”