RightNow Lands 170 Systems Deal

Hosted CRM vendor RightNow Technologies announced earlier this week that solutions and services provider 170 Systems has deployed RightNow Service to increase the quality, speed and resource-efficiency of its technical support operations.

Based in Bedford, Massachusetts, 170 Systems provides solutions for Oracle environments that help companies integrate both paper-based documents and electronic data interchange (EDI), extensible markup language (XML) or e-mail into enterprise applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

The company is named after a well-known Massachusetts Institute of Technology course on the application of software engineering principles, called “6.170” — more popularly known as “170” by MIT students.

Customers of 170 Systems include several universities, including Harvard, San Diego State University and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as enterprises like Sandia National Laboratories, British Telecommunications and Reader’s Digest.

Eliminating Redundancy Right Now

RightNow CEO and founder Greg Gianforte said in an interview that his company’s technology helps to eliminate the redundant questions that customers have.

“The system pushes tougher questions to the appropriate service level,” Gianforte told CRM Buyer. “We are seeing many customers deploy customer self service like this.”

The RightNow customer service system also creates an historical record of every transaction, whether it’s self resolved or ticketed, giving them a permanent record of everything regarding the solution in one place. Later, customers can go to their portal and review their transaction history at any time.

“This is especially helpful when you have a knotty technical problem over a period of time when several channels – voice, chat or e-mail — are used,” Gianforte said.

Customers Ticket Themselves

Hundreds of question and answer pairs about customer problems in the 170 Systems knowledge base make it easy for many of the company’s customers to solve common technical problems by themselves over the Web. When customers are unable to resolve their technical issues, initiating and monitoring their own trouble-tickets online still provides control.

The self-initiated trouble tickets are then routed to the appropriate technical staff. By automating routine customer service problems, 170 Systems frees up its limited technical staff to address tougher customer problems needing technical experts. At any time, customers can easily check their ticket status online and know that their questions are being addressed.

For 170 Systems, customer ticket initiation and monitoring eliminates the inevitable and repetitive customer calls that result because anxious customers keep phoning in to confirm the status of a problem. In addition, RightNow’s Web-based trouble-ticketing system enables the 170 Systems technical support team to collaborate quickly with each other and with product development engineers on problem resolution.

Improves Bug Tracking

In a move to heighten product quality, 170 Systems also has integrated RightNow with its own internally developed bug-tracking system, which improves the company’s ability to collect and use customer feedback for improving its products.

Through the use of RightNow technology, 170 Systems says that it has decreased the standard response time guaranteed on major production problems from four hours to just one. And its overall average initial response time currently runs around 20 minutes.

Based on a company survey of its customers, 170 Systems says that it has seen increased customer satisfaction and has achieved quality gains that can support its growing global customer base without the pressures of unrealistic staffing burdens.

RightNow IPO Impetus

On May 10th, RightNow Technologies announced its filing for a US$60 million initial public offering (IPO). This week a former director, executive vice president and chief financial officer of J.D. Edwards, Rick Allen, joins RightNow’s board of directors.

Allen also will chair the company’s audit committee and oversee RightNow’s corporate governance. PeopleSoft acquired J.D. Edwards last year as part of its effort to fend off Oracle’s hostile takeover.

Prior to the merger, Allen worked at J.D. Edwards for 18 years as a senior financial executive and concurrently served 13 years as a company board member.

While Gianforte said the company couldn’t comment on Allen’s role regarding the IPO because of federal regulations governing the process, he noted that Allen’s role involves corporate governance — ensuring that internal controls are in place and that the proper items are reported.

Beagle Research managing principal Denis Pombriant CRM Buyer that he believes that Allen is the type of seasoned and experienced guy RightNow wants on the team as they go forward with an IPO.

“Coming from JDE, [Allen] will add a lot to the discussion as the company goes public,” Pombriant said.

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