Home > CRM, Social CRM, technology > CRM, CX, RightNow – A Perspective

CRM, CX, RightNow – A Perspective

It was a great few days at the Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs, CO. RightNow invited me to attend their annual, US, user conference as well as the preceding influencer day leading up to the conference. During the first day, we heard from many members of the RightNow team, from executives new and seasoned. We talked about Call Centers, Contact Centers, Communication Centers, Social Hubs, Social Media, Social Communications. We touched on Cloud (Private and Public), SaaS (I asked about IaaS and PaasS), Chat, Email, Twitter, Facebook, Web Experience, Knowledgebase, Self-Service, Forums, Communities and Social Experience…and after the first hour, then we really got movin’.

Helen Hunt Falls (No, not that one)

Being at a user conference (versus general industry event) is a great way to hear what the customers are actually doing with a specific system. RightNow scheduled time for me to speak with Lisa Larson, Director of Customer Care at drugstore.com and beauty.com and MaryEllen Abreu, Director of Global Technical Support at iRobot. In addition to the scheduled talks, RightNow did make it easy to get together informally with other customers. I was also able to have a quick lunch with Boyd Beasley from Electronic Arts, informal chats with DirectTV and an in-depth conversation, which I hope to continue with some smart folks from the Naval Federal Credit Union. It is important to note that conferences like this are a good opportunity to spend time with industry folks, who we can bounce opinions off of, and share ideas. Denis Pombriant, added his thoughts soon after the influencer day, and his perspective is certainly worth a look.

While many of my peers are talking about Social CRM, on blogs, in articles and through white papers, a few RightNow customers are actually practicing it (but they do not call it Social CRM). Beauty.com offers assisted shopping through Chat – with a 40% conversion rate – and engagement through Twitter (routing as needed). iRobot uses Twitter to engage with customers, and solicit feedback about their products, even extending invitations into the Beta Forums for co-creation and product feedback. DirectTV shared a great story about using Twitter during Super Bowl Sunday, posting the best way to rid your dish of 2 feet of snow (using a super-soaker won).  All interesting stories, but the way in which success is measured does vary a bit; some look at money, some look at advocacy while others are just doing it because ‘it feels right’.

I will be writing a follow-up post where I will be focusing on the cultural aspects of the call center, a fun and interesting topic. As a bit of a teaser, I asked practitioners their thoughts on the changes in culture, philosophy and knowledge workers within the call (contact) center in the past 10 years. If you have some thoughts, please drop me a note.

I wonder what SaaS providers could learn from Telecom?

I would also like to comment on some of the great additions to the RightNow team, as well as some behind the scenes (or not quite spotlighted as much as they should be) folks. First, Wayne Huyard was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer. Huyard is a seasoned executive with experience at MCI, WorldCom, Verizon and Cerberus Capital Management. I was particularly interested in his background in Telecom, as I see a convergence of the SaaS business model into what other service providers (yes, like Telecom service providers) offer. This was inline with the question on my mind (one I was able to ask Mr. Gianforte, CEO) and that is whether SaaS solution providers resemble traditional software companies or service providers. The quick answer is ‘there is a little of both’. Vendors in the technology space seem to be converging on a model all to familiar to the Telecoms of the world, just sayin’

John Kembel, Vice President of Social is not exactly new, but possibly from a CRM traditionalist point of view, he might be considered new. John came from the HiveLive acquisition, a little over a year ago. Hearing John’s thoughts about how to integrate community to, with and for CRM (or customer experience) was time well spent. John is a design thinker, which is a great quality and background to have in order to understand the how CRM fits into the Social Web. My conversation with John was enhanced by a discussion with Andrew Hull, Director of Product Marketing. Andrew was able to share some of the new features within the product, such as the soon to be released Facebook interface (allowing users to see a Facebook tab and contact center people to see what they need). From its roots, RightNow is still big on Chat, which does work for many companies, but not for all. Finally, and my biggest ding, if it is one, is the Agent user experience. I am not a huge fan of Microsoft Outlook, thus the RightNow UX, which is Microsoft centric is not how I would design the UI. I believe the knowledge worker of the future needs an experience similar to the people they are on the phone (Twitter, Facebook….) with. I have hope, and heard rumblings that the future may offer some choice here.

Among the hidden gems, or ‘not given the spotlight often enough’ were my many conversations with Nitin Badjatia, during the conference. I met Nitin through Twitter about a year ago, and we have run into each other a few times, most recently at the VRM + CRM conference in Boston. Nitin is a very smart, experienced, likes to fly under the radar kinda guy. Nitin is opinionated – in a consensus building sorta way.  His background in the Knowledge Management is awesome, bringing his experience from Knova and industry. Nitin (and others within the experience strategy team) add tremendous  value within the RightNow ecosystem. It is not always about spotlight, rather helping customers to solve tough problems, which RightNow seems to be in a good position to do. I wanted to extend my thanks to the whole RightNow team for including me.

(Disclosure – I was an appreciative guest of RightNow Technologies. RightNow paid for my travel and expenses pertaining to the user conference only. RightNow is not a client of mine, or anyone else within my firm. For some visualizations of the experience, please take a look. I did have a great time in Colorado, not something hard for a Vermonter to do 🙂

  1. glennross
    October 19, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Mitch, from a tactical perspective, I’d be interested in reading more about how Rightnow customers like Drugstore.com are using social media. As someone who deals with both the strategy and tactics, those kinds of posts are valuable to me because they may trigger ideas I can use and because I can cite them as examples when promoting new ideas to my peers and higher-ups.


    • Mitch Lieberman
      October 20, 2010 at 7:02 am


      Makes perfect sense. I had a great conversation with Lisa, and I will fill in more details in a future post. I can say, that from a cost perspective, social is more expensive, as it increases the number of interactions. Now, I am not saying it less valuable, just that the measures need to be considered. For example, Tweet–>@reply–>DM–>Email–>phone–>Tweet is not uncommon.

      Thanks for the read and stopping bye, hope all is well.

  2. nitinbadjatia
    October 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, Mitch. Over the last year or so, I’ve also learned a lot from you – definitely one of the best examples of why twitter matters, to me personally. It was a fun time, and it sounds like you got a better sense of our approach to the market.

    As for my own interests and experience in the muddy waters of knowledge management, this classic Dilbert strip (1998) is near and dear to my heart: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1998-11-26/

    • Mitch Lieberman
      October 20, 2010 at 7:03 am


      Great cartoon, really sums it up quite well. I did get a better idea for the approach and I personally had a great experience. I look forward to more interactions in the coming year!


  3. markacarbone
    October 20, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Great article. Can you expand on the examples of how people/companies you met and mentioned above r using scrm in a little more detail?

    • Mitch Lieberman
      October 20, 2010 at 8:36 pm


      Thanks for stopping by and the complement, I appreciate it. I will absolutely be expanding the conversation. What the companies are doing, and what is working is important to share and discuss.


  4. raybrown99
    October 20, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Thanks Mitch for a good article. Sounds like you had a fun time. One question. What were people calling “it” when they were speaking about SocialCRM ?
    @Nitin I enjoyed the cartoon

    • Mitch Lieberman
      October 20, 2010 at 8:38 pm


      The conversation was more about “removing bad customer experiences”. So, where I think of it as Social CRM, or at least one way to describe it, I am not pushing the name or term. From my vantage point, RightNow are working to help their customers of bad experiences.


  1. October 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm

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