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December 2008 | Volume 27 / Number 7
Publishers Outlook

8 Steps To Great Customer Service

By Rich Tehrani,
Group Publisher, Technology Marketing Corp.

In an age where customers are looking for quality customer service and companies are cutting costs, how does one find that delicate balance where both parties are satisfied? RightNow is one company that has figured it out and is storming the global industry producing growth, $36 million in revenue, and a positive cash flow in a third quarter market where so many have been floundering.

I recently spoke with Greg Gianforte, CEO and founder of Right- Now in a podcast interview ( During our conversation, we discussed sales, service, challenges and the eight steps a company should follow to provide a great customer experience. RightNow is a provider of on demand customer relationship management (CRM) solutions that are designed to help customer- centric organizations deliver great customer experiences. Headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, RightNow has built its amazing success by practicing the same customer-centric activities that the company promotes to its clients.

In serving more than 1,900 organizations throughout the world, RightNow has learned a thing or two about the way these companies are serving their customers. Gianforte himself has made more than 200 customer visits since the start of 2008 and there is one primary thing that he hears from customers when asked about their current challenges: Reduce Cost.

While reducing cost is important, especially in this slower economy, RightNow sets out to do so much more for the client. As companies are focusing more heavily on service, RightNow is providing CRM solutions that not only lower costs, but also increase productivity to allow the client to create the ultimate experience for the customer.

Much of RightNow’s success is the result of the company’s approach to implementing its solutions. Gianforte and his team are well aware of the distrust companies have for software providers and to earn the trust of their potential clients, they promote a “Try before you buy” initiative in an effort to bring a new ethic to the industry. As a result, most implementations are the extension of a pilot run that proves to the client that the solution would perform as promised.

RightNow’s customer-centric approach is evident in the widgets that it makes available for its clients. This element of eService provides pages of digestible pieces of functional information that the client can drag and drop to customize their online knowledgebase. There is a widget available for each function a Web site visitor may seek to accelerate their request or for access to a live agent.

A strong focus on the knowledgebase is key for RightNow and the company does its best to educate its customers. A useful tool now in place for this education is a book written by Gianforte: Eight to Great, which provides a roadmap for customers seeking to create great customer experiences. These eight steps include:

1. Establish a knowledge foundation
2. Empower customers
3. Empower frontline employees
4. Offer multi-channel choice
5. Listen to your customers
6. Design seamless experiences
7. Engage proactively
8. Measure and improve continuously

The company has experienced a very strong response to this book. And, while it can take a client three to four years to work through these eight steps to get to their goal, the process serves as an effective roadmap. It also allows RightNow to market through education.

In promoting its drive for the improved customer experience, Right- Now is discovering that call and contact centers continue to struggle to deliver the optimal customer experience. One of the challenges that RightNow is finding in these centers is screen and keyboard latency. This is having a dramatic affect on the productivity of agents and the company’s solutions aim to eliminate this latency.

RightNow uses a smart client at the desktop to remove this latency and improve productivity. The solution is network delivered, yet it still allows for delivery to the desktop for optimal performance. The solution is downloaded to the desktop once, and from that point, only data is transferred through the network.

The desktop interface operates much like Microsoft (News - Alert) Office, requiring little training and rapid acceptance and adoption for the user. When an agent is handling a call, only that customer’s information is transferred to the desktop, eliminating bottlenecks and driving productivity.

The company anticipates that its current success will carry them into 2009. Among its key initiatives is a keen focus on research and development. Within this division, RightNow will focus on:

• Best of Breed eService
• Continuing to build out multi-channel services
• Customer-centric CRM with automated personalization
• Promoting further integration

RightNow is expected to release its latest update to its Right- Now CRM Suite today that will include agent scripting and case-based reasoning. Such enhancements are put in place to improve the experience for both the call center agent and the client as it empowers the agent to access information and make decisions quickly during the call.

Ultimately, RightNow is on a smart track for further success and growth as it takes a smart and ethical approach to doing business. The company has discovered exactly what customers demand from companies and how to empower those companies to meet this demand. Continuing on this track will only bring RightNow continued and measurable success.


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