RightNow Continues Move to Web 2.0

With the release of its August ’08 version, RightNow Technologies continues to shift both its platform and its lineup of products and features to Web 2.0.

This latest upgrade includes a customer portal that offers widgets, video, forums and blogs. Its studio development environment now allows users to integrate the application with Adobe Dreamweaver.

Co-Browsing and Proactive Chat

August ’08 also has more collaboration tools, such as co-browsing and chat. These features, particularly proactive chat, build upon developments RightNow introduced in its last iteration, May ’08 — specifically, the addition of chat functionality to its feedback feature set. With this functionality, a customer can be invited to give feedback on a just-completed online chat interaction with a service agent.

RightNow August ’08 lets users extend a chat invitation to a consumer based on specific circumstances — for example, when someone is a premier customer, or when someone has spent a certain amount of time on a Web site.

Consumers surfing a particular site powered by RightNow’s self-service technology will now be able to ask an agent — either on the phone or during an online chat session — to share a desktop and browse together. This can be done when resolving a problem, filling out a form, or navigating an online purchase.

Improving Interactions

The end goal is to improve the customer self-service experience, Andrew Hull, director of product marking for RightNow, told CRM Buyer. All three new features “allow our users to deliver a better, branded online interactive customer experience.”

The customer portal feature, for example, “takes the best of Web 2.0 elements and mashes them with an online support environment,” he said.

Co-browsing is a great brand booster as “end users feel good about the service they receive, especially if they are having a problem with something on the site,” Hull continued. The same goes for proactive chat, which can be configured to target customers who are having difficulty navigating the site.

Live Interaction Focus

The focus on live interaction is a particularly smart play, as it dovetails with larger trends in e-commerce, Tim Hickernell, an analyst at InfoTech, told CRM Buyer.

“There has definitely been a boost in the popularity of live services,” he said. Several years ago, when this functionality was introduced, it was at the direction of the companies, which were pushing it onto their customers to save money.

Consumers — not used to getting service in the online environment — resented and resisted it as much as they could, Hickernell said.

Now, though, “we have a more experienced customer base that is used to live interaction tools and likes using them,” he noted. “So we are definitely seeing a demand coming from the bottom up.”

RightNow’s co-browsing technology is indicative of this trend, Hickernell added.

“In this version, RightNow swapped out its earlier technology for OEM LiveLook, a co-browsing tool, in response to the demand for better live interaction,” he said.

The chat capabilities — and the proactive manner in which companies can now deploy them — are also illustrative of the consumer experience with these tools, Hickernell continued.

“It wasn’t that long ago that ‘right time intervention’ was difficult to figure out,” he explained. “It was a risky proposition because it could so easily irritate consumers. Now, companies are more willing to experiment with this model to figure out the best ways to intervene — either to save a potential sale or make an upsale.”

Shift To Ajax

RightNow has also advanced its move to the Ajax architecture with this release, Hickernell said.

“All of their PHP pages — an open source scripting language that is part of LAMP — are now gone,” he pointed out. “Ajax is the heart of the new interactive, richer Web user interfaces, so this is an important milestone for them.”

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