RightNow unveils an upgrade to its CRM suite and delivers two call center solutions, while KANA vies for the midmarket.
Posted Aug 10, 2005
With an eye on boosting its visibility in the enterprise market, RightNow Technologies unveiled the latest version of its CRM suite Wednesday during an analyst conference at the New York Marriott Financial Center. The on-demand vendor also introduced two new solutions; one for automating inbound and outbound telephone sales, and the other for helping agents and customers locate answers to inquiries. The announcements come days after the company announced its 30th consecutive quarter of revenue growth.
RightNow CRM 7.5, which features about three-dozen enhancements across service, sales, and marketing, is what Greg Gianforte, CEO and founder describes as a customer delight release. The newest installment of RightNow Sales, which features a sales knowledge base, also offers disconnected data synchronization and integration with Microsoft Outlook calendar, contact, email, and task management functions.
Enhancements to RightNow Marketing enable events, including registrations or customer purchases, to automatically trigger multistage, multichannel campaigns. It also allows organizations to add customer-specific promotional codes and logins in message links, as well as add links that launch RightNow live chat sessions. The solution also features SMS text messaging.
The latest version of RightNow Service includes a portal to provide segmented answers for partners. RightNow Service delivers enhanced content management that enables organizations to distribute content based on customer profiles. Additionally agents can create leads anytime during the resolution workflow. Also included in RightNow Service is RightNow SmartGuide, which uses decision-tree logic to provide agents with guided answer resolutions to customer questions.
RightNow also released RightNow Telesales, a tool that provides a graphical campaign workflow designer, and aimed at making it easier for sales managers to create, execute, and monitor multistage telephone sales campaigns. The telesales solution automates telesales processes by creating and assigning calls--managers can create ad-hoc call lists based on segmentation filters, assign calls to sales reps based on certain criteria, and distribute call scripts. RightNow Telesales can also integrate with CTI solutions to deliver automated click-to-dial functionality, and its compatibility with the rest of RightNow CRM allows leads to be automatically passed between marketing, inside sales, field sales, and customer service.
According to Liz Herbert, an analyst at Forrester Research, RightNow has been moving into larger enterprises, and its deal size has been increasing in part "due to deployments being more broad. Their SFA module is fairly new--it only came out late in 2004--so as they can cross sell into, for example, their service base, which is where they obviously have the most traction and strongest product, and cross sell the sales force automation capabilities into that, it seems that their average deal size is increasing."
Chris Selland, industry analyst at Covington Associates, contends that RightNow has always had a "fair" number of larger customers, largely attributed to its heritage in service, and its deployment flexibility. "They don't sell exclusively hosted. They'll license the technology in a more traditional fashion as well, which in a lot of cases, is what larger companies want."
While RightNow looks to further cozy up to the enterprise, KANA announced on Tuesday the first offerings of its eService Suite of Express products geared toward the midmarket--KANA Response Express and KANA Response Live Express. KANA Response Express includes automatic skills-based routing, auto response for common inquiries along with automated responses to incoming inquiries via email, and a scalable architecture. KANA Response Live Express functionality includes multiple chat and cobrowse sessions; collaboration, tracking, and monitoring tools; and security features enabling agents and customers to share Web pages and interact on Web-based forms. The KANA eService Suite of Express products, which leverage technology from KANA Response and KANA Response Live, will be available in o- demand and on-premise solutions.
Guy Hilbert, recently appointed vice president of midmarket strategy at KANA, says Kana (known for its large enterprise presence) is also focusing on the midmarket. "Our applications we believe are very mature now and we are able to bring them effectively to this midmarket and satisfy a tremendous amount of demand there with some proven solutions. What [midmarket companies] have typically been spending their money on, if you go back three, four years ago, was SFA, so the same way the [large] enterprise went through the sales force automation phase and then moved into a full CRM view...we're seeing that in midmarket."
To reach this market KANA is selling through channel partners. On Tuesday the company also announced a new strategic partnership with Enterico, an IBM VAR division of Continental Resources. "We bundle [our products] with IBM hardware and sell a compelling bundle kit to the market," Hilbert says. Part of KANA's midmarket strategy also includes focusing on on-demand, as it has released KANA Response On Demand and KANA Response Live On Demand. KANA IQ On Demand will be released "very shortly," Hilbert says.
Selland says that KANA's bigger issue is "giving the market confidence that they are going to be around for a while," but he notes that going into the midmarket is a logical move. "The high end of the market tends to be a little more sold out. It makes sense to go after the midmarket."
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