Since refocusing on customer service about one and a half years ago, RightNow Technologies, the Bozeman, Mont.–based provider of on-demand customer experience solutions, has been relying on its four-pillar strategy to incrementally expand functionality. With its latest November '08 release, available today, the company says it now has the tools in place to also offer a generally available enterprise-grade contact center package.
Andrew Hull, RightNow's director of product marketing, explains that the main thrust of the November '08 release delves into the complexities many contact center agents face on a daily basis, despite still having to provide a stellar customer experience. "In today's current economic conditions, the [main question] is around how to maintain the relationships with current customers," Hull says. "How can we foster an increased share of pocketbook with that existing consumer?"
Looking to meet this need, the November '08 release includes three key new features aimed at making it easier for contact center agents to traverse the minefield of data while looking to provide a great service experience:
- Agent scripting: includes complex branching logic, complete control over the format, the ability to capture and verify data within the scripts, and a graphical user interface allowing business users to create scripts;
- Desktop add-in framework: increases agent productivity by integrating and centralizing applications, tools, or Web services into RightNow's agent desktop offering; and
- Guided assistance: enables trouble-shooting capabilities through a series of questions and answers -- and can be used in conjunction with RightNow's new agent-scripting feature -- which direct agents to appropriate knowledge answers.
According to Mary Wardley, program vice president for CRM and enterprise applications at Framingham, Mass.–based industry research firm IDC, it's important to look at the broader picture RightNow is attempting to paint. "The individual features didn't jump out to me as much as all [of them] taken together — and what they represent," she explains. "The features [RightNow is] adding in both this release and [earlier updates]...all are geared to getting this [contact center desktop] environment tied together, which brings simplicity and a higher ease of use for the agent."
Wardley adds that the three new features all help to streamline the multifaceted situations that customer service representatives face on a daily basis. "The contact center is a complicated environment because it [includes] people on both sides of the interaction," she says. "When customers have made it as far as they can in self-service, they end up at assisted service. When they do, they need good service immediately, as they have already been trying to solve their own problems."
After adding these latest pieces to the RightNow puzzle, Hull says the company is able to bring to market an enterprise contact center package, bundling together all of the critical functionality needed by contact centers -- including analytics, feedback, marketing, and sales capabilities -- into one solution. "We wanted to make sure if we were going to offer the marketplace an enterprise package it would live up to its name," he stresses. "Now that we've added agent scripting, guided assistance...[and] the critical functionality needed in larger contact centers, we can confidently go to market."
Looking ahead, Wardley says there are two pieces RightNow must continue to keep strong in order to differentiate competitively. "The toolkit and platform focus is very important," she stresses. "Since [the company] is so deeply customer-service-focused, it's going to be integrating to other CRM products. It needs to have the strong integration story in order to be part of the application architecture."
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