RightNow hopes for premium travel

Thomascook.com turns down Salesforce.com and Siebel to go with RightNow for new customer-facing appications

The online travel company Thomascook.com has ignored market leaders Siebel and Salesforce.com and is now cutting costs and building tailored solutions in its customer service business using RightNow's CRM offerings.

The travel retailer is using RightNow's on-demand CRM to manage phone, email and Web-based services across its business. Thomascook.com says it has been able to improve the quality of customer calls received by service agents, as customers are now able to get answers to queries online using an automated response system.

Andrew Doe, e-commerce director of Thomascook.com, said it chose RightNow because it had the best customer service functionality, while Salesforce and Siebel didn't even make the running. "We thought RightNow was better in terms of its service elements it provides and had a good track record in travel [while] Salesforce has a much more sales-based model," he said.

In the long term the online travel retailer plans to standardise on RightNow across its entire site. "It makes sense for us to standardise with a solution that delivers the goods," he added.

ThomasCook.com is also using RightNow's analytics engine to create marketing material based on customer interactions during customer service. Once the system is fully implemented, agents in the contact centre will be able to see all campaigns sent to customers so that they can more effectively support customers as they call in about the offers.

Thomascook.com has also developed self-help functionality to enable customers to get queries answered online. Flights, hotel bookings and car hire information can all be obtained via an automated response system using RightNow's technology.

The company has also developed a separate sales centre which deals solely with online queries, freeing up the other centres to deal directly with customer bookings. "Its changed the way our sales centres are organised, now we have a separate sales centre for online queries, which lets the other sales staff do their job," said Doe.

Rival CRM brands Salesforce.com and Siebel are both trying to capture a greater chunk of the travel market as they target the customer facing side of CRM. In a move away from its more traditionally sales focused roots, salesforce.com has unveiled an updated version of its virtual call centre Service and Support 2.0.

This latest version simplifies the system for customers, previously call centre operators had to use a wide range of different client/server technologies to deliver a complete service, whereas Salesforce Service and Support 2.0 will provide a fully comprehensive, integrated system.

Siebel, recently acquired by Oracle, traditionally provides customer facing CRM software but has renewed its attack on this sector with Siebel Online Community. This new forum enables Siebel's base of 4,000 customers to discuss technology and processes and share advice, techniques and best practices on how they use Siebel software.