Total Control

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2003-04-21 Print this article Print

The eService Center product is also extremely customizable and allowed us to control everything in the system—from how menus behaved to complex workflows to escalation rules, as well as apply different settings based on work hours and holidays. But all this customization comes at a high price in usability.

Even after a training session with RightNow personnel and digging through the comprehensive documentation and tutorials, it took a lot of clicking to find out where everything is managed.

A good example of this was in controlling the look and feel of the page, which we had to change more than once to match the changes on our dynamically generated site. The basic principle was simple: We only had to copy necessary code out of Web pages and enter it into the required template pages in eService Center. But doing this involved entering code into several template pages, which often had similar page names. With a little trial and error, everything eventually worked.

The interface is better (see screen), although still overly complex, for support workers who need to respond to questions and keep the answers updated. Again, this is a trade-off because it also has excellent functionality and customization options.

For the most part, these workers will mostly stay in two consoles: the incident console and the answer console. The incident console is where new questions from customers first appear. A number of actions can be taken on a new question.

A status (such as solved, unresolved, updated and waiting) can be assigned, or it can be forwarded to another worker. The support person can search for an answer and send it to the customer. Alternatively, the support worker can propose an answer.

When an answer is proposed, the question moves to the answer console, where it can be reassigned or reviewed depending on a companys workflow and procedures. Once a new answer is entered, it can be made public. If it is an update to an existing answer, users who have asked to be alerted of updated answers can also be notified, although this is—thankfully—up to the support person, meaning that customers wont end up getting updates for small fixes or changes.

The built-in reporting and analysis options are strong administrative elements in eService Center. We could generate a wide number of reports and graphs covering everything from answers viewed to keywords searched to staff effectiveness.

As part of our long-term testing, we received all the standard support and assistance that RightNow provides to its customers. In addition to training and some in-depth help during initial setup, including a step-by-step analysis of the goals of the self-service site, we received regular calls and updates. This included a one-month refresher after we launched the site, to make sure it was moving toward our goals.

This excellent service went a long way toward helping us overcome some of the problems we encountered with the administration interface.

East Coast Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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