RightNow CRM users can now automatically send customers a survey following an online chat session with an agent, the company has announced.

Those responses can be combined with information from surveys conducted over the phone, by email and on the web, and analysed to spot trends.

Aligning CRM with chat, as well other means of communication, is becoming more important for two reasons, said Ray Wang, an analyst with Forrester Research.

"It is a lower cost of service to deliver by chat," Wang said. "The other thing is people are actually preferring to [chat]. It's easier as you're working online, from an online screen, as opposed to reaching out and dialling."

RightNow's software update also fits into CRM vendors' desire to "capture the voice" of customers, said China Martens, an analyst with the 451 group. "Customers are more likely to fill in an online survey sent to them as they conclude their chat," she said.

The new features are the latest in a series of upgrades the company has made around customer feedback. In February, it added topic monitoring, which analyses text associated with customer interactions, such as survey responses, and tracks topics that come up frequently. That followed the addition of emotion detection, which looks through text for keywords that indicate a customer's relative mood.

A number of vendors, such as ResponseTek and Satmetrix, are solely focused on collecting and analysing feedback, slotting themselves into market sub-segments such as CEM (customer experience management).

Meanwhile, full-fledged CRM companies are rounding out these types of capabilities, according to Martens.

"Given RightNow's background in the service side of CRM, they have more expertise there than the likes of Salesforce.com, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft, although we'd expect those guys to beef up what they offer," Martens said. "Microsoft is already gearing up with its Automated Service Agent product and Oracle has some stuff, but may well look to do more."

Find your next job with techworld jobs