Last week I spoke again with Colin Jones, Public Sector Regional Manager and the RightNow project manager for the Obama effort and Andrew Hull, Director of Product Marketing to get an update on Obama’s use of the web through RightNow. See Obama’s Answer Center - CRM from RightNow on the Campaign Trail for my first post on the topic.
The Obama campaign has now upgraded to RightNow release May ’08 to provide extra capability. With this release, contact center workers have greater context on callers including the caller’s history of connections with the campaign. They are also able to get more focused background information based on the nature of the call (asking a question, wanting to volunteer, etc.) to more quickly respond to the inquiry. The campaign is also able to have access to this same contextual information for email responses and chat sessions.
The campaign was running on RightNow November 07. The contextual desktop feature was added in the February 08 release but the campaign was too busy with the primaries to upgrade at the time. Now they are getting ready for the rest of the Presidential campaign and making upgrades. RightNow allows clients to skip releases if the timing is not right and then bring forward all the functionality of all past releases when they do upgrade.
Over two million donors have now contributed to campaign and close to three million have contacted the campaign through the Obama Answer Center and other means. RightNow is currently working to integrate the contact information of everyone who has connected with Obama’s site into their database so there is a common database of all contacts that can serve all contact channels for a variety of purposes. They are pulling data from all the tools used by the campaign to create this single database that can then feed back information where needed.
They continue to look at questions by region to see what the concerns of each part of the country and have a better connect with the voters. As I have written before, it will be great if the US government adopts these practices to better connect with citizens. Perhaps lessons on effective web practices learned during the campaign can be adopted by the government. There is great potential here. I think it is demonstrates some of the ways the new web can be used to increase engagement. and the innovation evidenced by this campaign.