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
On the other hand, Outbound nicely handles other aspects of marketing campaigns. Recyclable document elements can be stored for easy reuse in future campaigns, and the management interface shows a campaign's status, including total e-mails delivered, response rates, and click-throughs.
The reporting facilities in RightNow are good -- it offers record and charting opportunities pegged to the full access of the knowledge base. Although it lacked out-of-the-box business intelligence analytics, the integrated Corda Technologies' PopChart application made it easy to produce impressive Flash-based reports and charts that could be easily drilled through to reveal underlying data.
I was also able to save reports as PDF and Excel files and, because not all reports were offered in real-time, I could set predefined intervals for report generation and autodistribution to designated recipients.
One to Grow On
It has a solid start, but RightNow does have some more maturation ahead. As well-defined as the layout was, I found the UI clumsy at times -- it launched new windows for every console and often lacked uniformity in menu selection. I would prefer to see a consolidation of the various consoles into a single user interface, which would definitely streamline usability.
Also, providing intradocument and inline interface security would enhance administration. Rather than relying on multiple documents and interfaces, admins could set up a single object with varying permissions. A junior agent might only see general customer information, while a manager's permission level would show that data as well as more sensitive financial detail. The level of granularity would be a boon to content management.
RightNow currently picks up a good number of its technologies from third-party and open source resources. I would prefer to see RightNow take ownership of toolsets that would play such an integral part in my customer service stack. With the e-services industry still in flux, a focus on in-house development and support is something of a reassurance for users (see "Successful E-services," left).
On the plus side, RightNow has plenty of features available as add-on options, that will help customize it to your business needs. Some of the more useful add-ons include wireless and voice applications and Locator, a self-serve mapping application that directs customers to nearby stores and company locations based on criteria such as proximity or product levels. Other perks include gap-analysis reporting, which helps isolate holes in your knowledge database so they can be filled before wreaking havoc with response ratios.
RightNow 6.0 delivers a good set of tools for mastering the art of customer service and bettering margins through self-serve and proactive channels. Improving the integration process and scalability will help balance the bevy of features to create a more well-rounded solution. If your organization wants to deliver on an ideal of real-time customer service, RightNow can help you meet the challenge head on.