The Q&A section of is only partially human-powered. Many of the questions left by consumers are 'answered' automatically via an intelligent database, provided by software specialist RightNow. In 2003, the database is said to have achieved a 98.5 percent self-service answering success rate, coming up with answers to 260 000 questions. But will it be foxed by this: 'Who is Mike Sinyard?'

Look, no hands…

Specialized has been using RightNow’s On-Demand online CRM service for five years.

Specialized first deployed RightNow in March 1999 as part of a major overhaul of its web site and its overall customer service strategy. Its Top Ten RightNow Answers alleviated more than 60 percent of its customer service workload, said a statement from RightNow.

"The direct delivery of customer service via the web also has provided the company with valuable insights into its customers’ primary issues and concerns. Because Specialized sells its products through independent dealers, these insights had not previously been obtainable for the company."

The database now has 500 items, including PDF files of its manuals.

"As a result, 98.5 percent of the customers who come to Specialized’s web site with specific questions now find the answer they need without having to contact a Specialized employee," said RightNow, celebrating the five year milestone. also uses RightNow Locator, for finding local IBDs. This was used 210 000 times in 2003.

"RightNow is an extremely powerful and strategic platform for customer service," said Sean McLaughlin, marketing manager at Specialized in California.

"We are getting our customers accurate answers to their questions immediately at a far lower cost than we would if we had to reply to hundreds of thousands of calls and emails – plus, we are keeping customer satisfaction at very high-levels."

But, was satisfied? Could RightNow tell us who Mike Sinyard is?

Sadly, no. Nobody must have asked previously. Instead of drilling into details of the company founder, the database provides this as the question: "Big hit 2000 shock measurements for a replacement shock?"

In other news...

Cycling e-commerce solution provider Objective1 undergoes rebrand 

E-commerce solution provider for the bike market Objective1 has undergone a rebrand. The Bristol-based company …