RightNow Technologies has fundamentally changed its approach to the service automation space as of today. The company, which has had voice technology since acquiring Convergent Voice in 2005, has expanded its focus to move beyond the initial goal of deflecting calls, with three applications designed to integrate inbound and outbound call processes.
"Our voice program used to have an exclusive self-service focus," says Tim Johnson, vice president of voice for RightNow. "We voice-enabled the knowledge base. It was all the call not going to the agent." The new voice applications, available on an on demand subscription model, target a different set of business processes:Web Click-To-Call Back: End users visiting a RightNow customer's Web site can now request to be contacted by an agent over the phone.Caller Information Delivery: End users employing the self-service features of a RightNow customer's voice system can ask to be transferred directly to an agent. RightNow will show the agent all the information that the end user has given to the voice system, cutting down on the need for repetition.Voice Outbound Survey Solution: RightNow customers can generate customer calling lists and initiate automated survey calls.
Web Click-to-Call Back integrates with RightNow's routing technology so that when an end user decides to initiate an agent call, RightNow automatically makes outbound calls to agents until an agent accepts, then feeds the agent information about the transaction for which the end user is requesting voice contact. Thus the agent does not enter the call blind.
David Vap, VP of products for RightNow, says that voice has been the strongest part of RightNow's business. "The voice growth rate has been double the company's growth rate."
Johnson emphasizes that the voice products are tightly integrated with the overall online strategy of RightNow customers. "Once companies get a hold of their customers, they need to keep them there," Johnson says. "If they leave the Web site, it'll cost companies money." The Web Click-to-Call Back feature is calibrated to prevent Web site abandonment, giving end users the ability to initiate or schedule calls with agents in order to get human help with technical problems such as shopping cart freeze-ups and registration delays, or even to answer questions about products and services.
Each of RightNow's three voice applications refines existing business processes to make the service side of an organization more effective; taken as a whole, they are a powerful tool for enhancing e-service. "The caller information delivery module patches something that most companies are still doing horribly," says Tim Hickernell, senior research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group. "A huge gap often exists today in the handoff from the voice system to the agent. The number-one customer complaint [with voice] is, 'Why do I have to repeat myself?'"
While the technologies used to make RightNow's new applications are not new, they indicate how the market has changed, Hickernell says. "The underlying theme is how much the pervasiveness of IP telephony and the descending costs have driven the ability to do more with Web service and assisted service than six or seven years ago."
Additional reporting by Marshall Lager