The drive to turn customer support into a social engines is playing out with RightNow, a publicly traded SaaS provider that is launching a robust Facebook platform for support agents to respond in real-time to Facebook wall posts and other comments.

RightNow CX for Facebook gives call center operations a direct way to reply to customer service issues that surface on a Facebook fan page. The service also allows customers to pose questions, help other customers or access information in a self-service manner.

The service has features for self-service, crowdsourcing and the ability to reach customer support.

You can see how RightNow used the Facebook API to integrate with a customer landing page. A tab for support opens a launch page where customers may begin interacting with customer support or each other.

Features of the service include:

The ability to seek out answers to questions or use a search functionality.The technology is designed to understand each interaction so answers improve over time.

A knowledge base that is based upon what people add to the site.

A community function where visitors to the client Facebook page may pose questions to the community. Clients may also permit customers to post to their personal Facebook wall.

Sentiment analysis so agents can respond accordingly to posts on the Facebook wall.

A web-form that automatically directs people to a contact center for follow up. Customer service agents may respond directly. All records of the interaction is captured.

About half of RightNow customers now have Facebook pages. More companies are filling out those pages with content. Many have upwards of 70,000 fans or more.

Most of RightNow clients are consumer focused brands.They have to engage where their customers gather and Facebook is increasingly seen as that place.

Facebook has more than 500 million users. Users now spend more than 3 billion hours per month on Facebook. About 70% of users are outside the United States. RightNow supports 33 languages, an important factor in RightNow's roll out ability to provide clients with global support.

RightNow is a bit ahead of the market with this service. Salesforce.com announced a service last year that allows customers to build Facebook service apps off the Force.com platform but it is not nearly as robust as what RightNow is providing.

We will see how the service looks when it launches in November. But it looks like the service has potential, especially as brands seek ways to engage with customers in places where they spend their time.