RightNow spruces up service suite

A redesigned user interface, skills-based routing, analytics and a new module for managing outbound interactions are all part of the company's new hosted contact center software.

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RightNow Technologies Inc. has announced Service 6.0 and RightNow Outbound. The Bozeman, Mont., company calls the release of the two products its biggest yet.

The hosted customer service provider has streamlined the user interface for contact center agents, added skills-based routing of inquiries, expanded knowledge-base search capabilities, tacked on functionality to monitor service-level agreement compliance and included an analytics and reporting engine.

Skills-based routing automatically directs customer inquiries to the correct agent. For example, a Spanish-speaking agent will receive all inquiries in that language, said CEO Greg Gianforte. New knowledge-based search capabilities expand the mechanism to provide a greater range of information for both customers and agents, including support for new file-type attachments and corporate Web sites.

The service-level agreement (SLA) function lets companies monitor agreements in real time. A company may want to guarantee service responses to its platinum-level customers within two hours but offer a four-hour response time for regular customers. Service 6.0 handles those exceptions and can deliver information only if those goals are not being met, Gianforte said.

A customer report writer is available out of the box with analytics that track trends and assess service performance. It also drills down to deliver trend analysis, data filters, data exceptions and alerts.

RightNow's new Outbound module allows for proactive marketing, so "users will know when a customer is about to call before they do," Gianforte said.

Service alerts, product announcements and self-service issues can all be handled proactively to cut back on incoming inquiries.

RightNow Outbound also manages opt-in or opt-out functions automatically. Companies can segment the audience for an e-mail marketing campaign based on individual characteristics and can personalize content based on profiles and transaction history. Additionally, an integrated analytics function allows marketers to measure campaign performance.

One analyst said the release expands RightNow's offering from simply e-service to a more complete contact center offering.

"It's a much fuller solution from an agent perspective," said John Ragsdale, research director with Forrester Research, Boston. "Adding in an outbound module means that they're extending into the CRM world with marketing automation. It's a logical step. If you're handling inbound e-mails you should be able to manage outbound as well."

Both Service 6.0 and RightNow Outbound will be generally available in October. Existing customers of RightNow Service Center 5.5 can upgrade to Service 6.0 for free.

Currently, in 35% of its client base, RightNow is the only application in the contact center, but that's not enough, according to Gianforte.

"We want to own the contact center," he said.

RightNow, which is privately held, says its revenue has grown in 18 straight quarters. It plans to double the size of its engineering group and North American sales operation. Ninety percent of RightNow's new customers opt for hosted customer service software.

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