In a recent briefing from RightNow Technologies, the SaaS (Software as a Service) CRM provider showcased it’s new functionality called Cloud Monitor. The vendor can now search social networking sites for comments about a company, identify the sentiment of the comment (very negative to very positive), and enable reps to respond to the comments using their normal CRM tools.
Here’s a screen shot (courtesy of RightNow) showing how the tool can be used to respond to tweets:
My take: This new offering from RightNow is a great example of an important voice of the customer (VoC) trend: The integration of social media monitoring into broader VoC efforts. There’s no reason for social media efforts to look substantially different from how companies handle other forms of feedback.
And this becomes even more important when companies decide to respond. Why should reps have different (and less integrated) tools for responding to Tweets than they do when responding to emails? They shouldn’t. RightNow’s type of solution allows companies to utilize existing knowledge bases, efficiently deal with correspondences, and maintain a centralized record of customer contacts.
While this initial functionality from RightNow is a good starting point, it certainly needs some more enhancements before it matches up with pure brand monitoring tools. Here are some of the areas where it should (and likely will) make improvements: A broader set of sites that it monitors, classification (and agent routing) of comments by topic, identification of the influence level of the commenter, inference of customer details (like is it a customer or not), and tailored text mining tools.
So, for the time being, companies need to make a trade-off between comprehensive brand monitoring tools and integration with CRM applications. But it won’t be long until social media is just another channel that companies interact with through their existing CRM applications.
The bottom line: Everything new that survives becomes mainstream.