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RealTime IT News

RightNow Does It for Customers

With its focus on customer service automation and contact center applications for larger businesses, RightNow Technologies hit its stride today and released an update to its CRM application, as well as two new apps designed to bring its customers joy.

RightNow CRM 7.5 adds approximately 30 new capabilities that span sales, service and marketing, said CEO Greg Gianforte.

For example, in the sales-force automation functions, the company made the disconnected access client faster. It added a lead referral capability to its service module, so that agents taking service calls can refer questions about new products to sales staff.

The company also released a new application designed for agents and managers at telephone sales organizations.

RightNow Telesales allows managers to create and execute outbound call campaigns by filtering customer lists. The software will automatically distribute the leads to sales reps based on criteria such as territory. It also tracks calls, reminds the reps of who to call each day and schedules further marketing events.

Another application released today by the company is RightNow SmartGuide, which uses patented artificial intelligence technology to create Web-based help services.

SmartGuide builds on the knowledge bases RightNow maintains for its customers, according to Gianforte, replacing keyword search with a dialogue interface. It's a template that automatically creates FAQ-type questions and answers, then moves the most frequently asked questions higher up.

"A knowledge base works great if you know what you're looking for," Gianforte said. "Where it doesn't work so well is if you have a complicated diagnostic problem."

Each SmartGuide is specific to each customer. As customer service or tech-support personnel field questions, they can mark them for publishing to the SmartGuide.

"They probably don't need new content. We're creating the connecting tissue," Gianforte said.

RightNow has an average sales price of $126,000 and offers an on-premises version of its flagship product, which accounts for about 10 percent of its business. Major RightNow customers include Convergys, Cisco Systems and DeVry University.

Gianforte said RightNow tends to produce a minor release every eight weeks, and one major release a year. But upgrading is optional for customers.

"Other vendors have a Frankenstein switch for upgrades; they upgrade the customer whether they want it or not," Gianforte said.

"That works okay in SMBs or less complex implementations. But it's not uncommon for us to implement a call center with thousands of agents in dozens of countries. So our architecture also is multi-version and lets customers schedule or refuse updates."