RightNow helps customers help themselves
Solid self-service and live chat features give e-service suite a boost, but beware of sticky integration and scalability
Every time a record is created or updated, RightNow's rules system goes into action, setting off such tasks as sending e-mail notifications to agents and customers or escalating incidents for priority processing.
Using the Rules interface, I defined triggers based on a variety of data points, such as agent incident threads, customer e-mails, and Web site feedback. You may also define triggers based on RightNow's SmartSense feature, which attempts to interpret the severity of an inquiry. Rules can be combined into complex patterns, each capable of setting off multiple triggers and initiating new processes and actions.
The interface allowed me to design rules without much effort, but the text-based interface for defining tables and event conditions might be more familiar to database professionals than line-of-business managers. And with such flexibility for complex rule design, the definition interface needs a graphical mapping tool to better reveal independencies between events, rules, and actions.
All told, I found RightNow's rules engine a worthy tool, providing efficiency and consistency in managing and prioritizing customer interactions, and far better than allowing items to slip through the cracks.
In addition to automating responses, RightNow also offers a good chat facility in its Live Chat module. If you're like me, you've encountered too many companies that appear to have monkeys operating their chat facilities. Live Chat gives service reps the tools to create a professional online experience and improve customer satisfaction.
Live Chat has the typical customer-chat amenities, such as color-coded text and canned dialogs, to speed responses to frequently asked questions. But RightNow also fills it out with a number of winning features, such as displaying the specific page a customer calls from, the power to open a Web page on the customer's desktop, and even a queue count so customers know where they stand in line.
Agents can collaborate and conference behind the scenes and bring a specialist into a chat for consultation.
Managers will appreciate the good heads-up dashboard for chat monitoring and statistical insight. I could see the various queues and sessions, the number of waiting customers and agents online, as well as cumulative response times and other session details in a single view. And because Live Chat integrates with the workflow system that enhances the entire RightNow suite, requests can be routed and escalated automatically.
The Proactive Approach
Whereas rules systems and chat features are reactive, the proactive side of e-service involves keeping customers informed of promotions, alerts, and other information, a valuable tool for retaining and attracting business. With that in mind, RightNow's Outbound e-mail marketing component combines with the Service knowledge base to deliver proactive, targeted messages to customers based on account history.
Outbound helps you construct and manage contact lists and content libraries, the latter of which is enhanced by an HTML page editor, Ektron's eWebEditPro, for in-browser HTML page editing. However, I think the interface for list development and segmentation could use some work: After setting up criteria, for example, I was unable to directly preview or export a list sample to help verify the accuracy of my list.