What Does RightNow Technologies Think of Social Business?

Next in our quest for vendor’s thoughts on Social Business is RightNow Technologies.  Want to read the previous ones? Here are OracleAttensityFuze DigitalMoxie SoftwareSAP, and GetSatisfaction.

1. Where is the Social world going to be in 12 months? 24 months?

As the social web continues to grow at a staggering pace, and as consumers rapidly flock to social sites and mobile devices, companies are aggressively working to assimilate social into business-as-usual.

Leading brands we’re working with are approaching this in three ways:

  1. Integrating social more deeply into the operational fabric of their global customer experience operations;
  2. weaving social more seamlessly across business goals/departments and geographies;
  3. extending the reach of their operations to natively include the emerging dominant social networks (fb, twitter, youtube).

To do this and succeed with social, companies are actively integrating conversations with company knowledge and social identities with contacts, bringing workflow to social as they do to traditional channels, and seeking a holistic view of customer experience analytics to move beyond community heath metrics to true attributable business impact.

2. How can business not be left behind

The only way to keep up is to simply start “being social”.  The most advanced and exciting social strategies we see are from folks who have tried a few things.

The best way for businesses to start is to weave social into the things they’re already doing.  A few places to start:

  • Have a web self-service knowledge base?  Allow customers to comment on articles, and set up a community best answers area to see what questions customers ask that you haven’t authored for, and allow other customers to answer them.
  • Have a Facebook fan page?  Give your a customers a reason to like you by adding a support tab. Let customers search your knowledge base, answer each other’s questions, even engage a support agent, all without leaving Facebook.
  • Set up a @AskYourBrand twitter account, and equip your agents who respond to emails to answer to tweets as well.  Taking a conversation seamlessly from the social web to another channel (from twitter to chat or email) is a great engage customers and scale proactive social support.

3. What is going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of social?

Customer service will quietly become the new heart of marketing and of commerce.  Companies are already realizing their brands are no longer defined by what they say about themselves, but by the customer experiences they deliver every day.  The companies that figure out how to make the transition from their current “image brands” to real-time “experience brands” will lead the market.  To get there:

  • Companies will rewire themselves to be more customer-centered, relationship-oriented, and transparent.  The lines between traditional departments of support, marketing, and commerce will disappear.
  • Marketing: marketers will become curators of brand not creators of it — they’ll follow, respond, and tune the ebbs and flows of customer conversation, opinion, and sentiment.
  • Customer service: the future contact centers will be better described as customer engagement centers, as they’ll be responsible for fulfilling on brand promises one interaction at a time with flawless execution.

As consumers, we can expect the companies we care about to behave more like friends — to know who we are when we reach out, to pick up conversations where we last left off, to listen to and act on our feedback, and most importantly to honor our trust and respect our privacy.