RightNow to help gauge customers' feelings

Customer relationship management software vendor RightNow Technologies wants to help enterprises get in touch with their customers' feelings.

Accordingly, the company on Monday plans to announce RightNow Web eService Center 5.0, an Internet-based customer self-service application that features, among other things, the ability to detect anger or dissatisfaction being relayed in e-mail messages from customers.

The product's SmartSense feature uses intelligent language recognition technology to alert customer service representatives when customers are upset. SmartSense maintains a vocabulary of words with an emotional context and also watches for "emoticons," such as little frowning faces put into an e-mail messages, as well as for messages sent in all-capital letters, said Greg Gianforte, CEO and founder of RightNow, in Bozeman, Montana.

"SmartSense basically raises a flag and allows a company to apply actions based on how angry the customer is," Gianforte said. For example, a company might immediately assign the e-mail to a supervisor or apply a different service level so the customer gets a faster response, he said.

According to research, clients who have been dissatisfied and had the issue corrected are actually more loyal than clients who have never had an issue with a company, Gianforte said.

A user of RightNow WebService Center said SmartSense enables his company to do a better job of monitoring.

"It allows [customer service personnel] to immediately zero in on problem areas and maybe offer solutions faster," said Trent Humphries, product manager for e-support at Provo, Utah-based Internet appliance vendor Big Planet.

Other features in Web eService Center 5.0 include the following:

-- Support for multinational clients, in which multiple languages can be stored in the same knowledge base and have messages forwarded to a representative who speaks that language.

-- Knowledge Browse, an alternative interface to the RightNow knowledge base that makes it easier for Web visitors to find answers to questions. The company has filed two patents on the technology.

-- RightNow Live, which allows companies to deliver immediate, personalized service to customers while they are online.

Version 5.0 is available this week, with prices ranging from US$30,000 for a five-seat configuration for two years and ranging upward depending on capacity of a support organization. It can be deployed on Sun Solaris or Microsoft Windows NT, partnered with either an Oracle Corp. or Microsoft SQL Server database.

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