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Greg Gianforte: Why customer experience is shaking up the C-suite

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2nd Aug 2011
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Greg Gianforte explains why the C-suite is buzzing about the customer experience - and why his firm RightNow Technologies can fight off all-comers in the CEM space.

The pursuit of the customer experience is a mission increasingly recognised by organisations around the world - and the Cloud is helping them to attain what might otherwise be just another CRM Holy Grail. 
According to Greg Gianforte, CEO of RightNow Technologies, this recognition of the importance of the customer experience is being driven by a number of external trends. He cites four in particular to demonstrate his point: "One, the growing empowerment of the consumer; two, the increasing acceptance of Cloud-based solutions; three, the rise in the number of consumer interactions that happen on the internet and social networks and mobile devices; and fourth, the wave of contact centre replacements that's occurring in large enterprises as they recognise their legacy call centre solutions just can't handle their current needs."
It's also all about the need to use top quality customer experience as a brand differentiator against the competition which in turn is putting what might previously have been left to the marketing department higher up the corporate agenda, all the way to the C-suite. "Large B2C organisations recognise the customer experience is the competitive differentiator in a world where consumers have lots of choices. We know that satisfied consumers spend more and refer their friends to their favourite brands. This is driving more C-level visibility of customer experience, and now we're seeing customer experience initiative pushed directly at all levels throughout an organisation," says Gianforte. 
"So far this year, I've visited about 140 customers. In nearly all my executive meetings, improving the customer experience is one of the top corporate priorities and there are more customer experience job titles in B2C organisations than ever before. In fact, according to one online job site, the number of job postings that use the words customer experience has increased 450% within the last year."
For Gianforte, the validity of what he says is demonstrated by RightNow's expanding customer base, such as SiriusXM Radio. "They've been successfully using our knowledge base to power their contact centre agents who serve their 20 million subscribers," explains Gianforte. "This relationship positioned us well to take over the agent desktop. We [recently] signed a contract to power their multi-channel customer experience strategy, including all their contact centre desktops and their web. SiriusXM's goals around increasing customer retention and driving incremental revenue opportunities is exactly what RightNow CX provides, a mission critical multichannel customer experience approach."
The Gianforte Gospel
The 'Gianforte Gospel' is that RightNow is uniquely positioned to provide services for such firms due to its focus on customer experience rather than fleshing out its portfolio of offerings into other areas. "Because we have a singular focus on customer experience for large B2C organisations, our solutions, engagement model and expertise meet their needs to deliver exceptional customer experience and the associated business benefits better than any other vendor," he claims. "We have not seen other solutions whether they're newer Cloud-based offerings or old, traditional, on-premise solutions delivering the range of functionality that RightNow does. 
"At the same time, the market requirements for customer experience capabilities are constantly evolving.  Our customers recognise that if they're going to effectively serve their customers, they need to have a partner with deep customer experience expertise and a fully integrated customer experience platform that's robust and continually evolving or they will fall behind their competitors. Consistently delivering exceptional customer experiences across the web, social and contact centre channels is hard, complex and requires a vendor with a singular focus." 
It's this that differentiates RightNow from the likes of Salesforce.com, he argues. "We do see Salesforce in competitive deals. Our win rate is extremely high," claims Gianforte. "Occasionally, we see a client switch over. We've had multiple situations where people have kind of bought the promise that Salesforce makes, and then it turns out to not be true. I mean, they are a great marketing organisation. And then they come back to us. I could list half a dozen accounts where that's happened. 
"We also have had some very significant wins against them in head-to-head competition. The real difference is that because we have a singular focus on customer experience in B2C, we've built out agent desktop technology that handles the more complex workflow in these environments and customers recognise the difference when they actually have production experience with the two systems. They're certainly a strong marketing organisation, but the promises don't always measure up."
A similar situation applies when other competitive firms are considered, concludes Gianforte. "There is no other firm that has this complete platform for customer experience, and that's their sole focus. Everyone else is conflicted in some way," he argues. "That allows us to just be more focused in the way we go to market around the verticals we attack, and that is paying dividends. So the market, I would say, from a competitive landscape perspective, is about the same. However, this focus that we've developed over the last five years or so, focusing on customer experience, gives us clear differentiation."

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