RightNow Updates On-Demand CRM Suite

Enhancements in RightNow 8 are geared toward improving data analysis and providing customers with better service.
CRM software supplier RightNow Technologies this week unveiled RightNow 8, a new version of its sales, marketing, and customer service application suite. CEO Greg Gianforte says improvements made in the new release are designed to help businesses improve customer service while at the same time reducing costs. About 90% of RightNow's customers use an on-demand version of its software.

RightNow 8 includes a new "customer experience designer" that combines a workflow engine with a graphical design tool for mapping online customer processes, such as filling out forms and requests for company literature. The tool can be used to develop systems that refer a customer request to a sales representative or escalate a service request to a higher level of tech support.

A new RightNow Feedback service that's integrated with RightNow's applications helps companies get customer feedback on products and services and quickly take action on that information, such as passing along customer comments to product design teams. RightNow 8 also offers improved analytical capabilities, including a report design center for assembling and presenting charts and tables and a feature for collecting and analyzing current information with historical trend data to compare key performance metrics such as customer satisfaction ratings and lead conversation rates.

The new software has been re-architected to operate on clients using "smart client" technology based on Microsoft .Net. RightNow 8 also includes drag-and-drop tools for customizing the desktop interface and role-based templates for sales, marketing, and customer service workers. RightNow is also offering versions of the software adapted for business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and government customers, with versions for retail, high-technology, and health care in development.

Video game developer Electronic Arts is a longtime RightNow customer, and Boyd Beasly, senior director of customer support, says his company will likely begin using the new version right after the hectic Christmas shopping season. "We think [the thin-client technology] is going to improve the performance of the workstations where the customer service representatives are working," he says. "When you talk about the volumes of calls we handle, you're talking about real dollar savings." The ability to customize those workstation interfaces will also make improving workflow processes easier, he says. And he's looking forward to using the feedback tool to capture more information from customers, from complaints to suggestions for product improvements. "EA is trying to have the best game support in the industry," Beasly says.

RightNow 8 will be available sometime in the fourth quarter. Pricing hasn't been set.

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