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Kana Looks to Cut Down the Silos of Customer Service
One pundit forecasts the company's service management solution is the first of many we can expect to come down the pike.
Posted Jul 16, 2009
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As innovations have led to new communication channels, including email, chat, text messaging, and Web self-service, a tremendous problem many contact centers face is tying all those channels together to foster a connected, seamless experience. Looking to end the era of a customer getting one answer via email, and a completely different one from a FAQ, Kana Software has unveiled Kana 10, a service experience management (SEM) platform that the company promises will help dismantle siloed customer experiences.

"Customers are more demanding and the market is moving much faster," explains Keith Goldberg, Kana's vice president of product marketing. "We're focused on controlling the service experience, and we've seen many changes with the Internet, mobile, and all different channels popping up for service."

Taking that into consideration, Kana 10 is a Web services–based solution incorporating IBM's services-oriented architecture (SOA) portfolio with Kana's traditional strong points in Web self-service and Web interaction management. "This solution is channel-agnostic, and because it's built on open-source technology using IBM's SOA framework, we can connect with any channel the service department needs," Goldberg says.

Major features in Kana 10 include:

  • adaptive desktop, which provides unified access to relevant process, data, and knowledge during each service interaction;
  • experience modeling, dubbed the Service Experience Modeler, which melds together workflow creation, screen building, business-logic construction, and integration with enterprise and knowledge systems without coding or Web development;
  • key performance indicator optimization, monitoring in real time the objectives set for revenue, cost, customer satisfaction, and compliance via its Service Experience Optimizer; and
  • knowledge-empowered processes, modifying the service experience on the fly due to unexpected responses and changing customer or business requirements with Service Experience Orchestrator.

"The real key differentiator that we have is the ability to control the service experience based upon the [Service] Experience Modeler," Goldberg says. "It lets you take the flow of the interaction the way you want to design it and implement it really quickly. The design of the experience flow is then very tightly coupled with the process flow, which is needed to fully control the service experience and [allow you to] react quickly."

Chip Gliedman, vice president and principal analyst for Forrester Research, says that contact centers' service strategies have long needed -- and still need -- to have a more service-oriented approach. "You can't differentiate by the channel," he insists. "It's [all] customer service. All these silos that have been set up to handle a [single] communication channel had to break down."

Gliedman says that Kana is hitting the right notes with this release, adding that he sees the industry trending toward the delivery of a quality customer experience across myriad touchpoints. "Kana's taken apart the product into its basic components and has a Web services wrapper around each of the pieces, which allows them to be used and assembled as needed," he says. "In that respect, it's the right product. It's the only way to effectively deliver customer service across multiple platforms."

The only thing that may hold up adoption, Gliedman says, is the economy. He explains that this desire to crush silos is not uncommon among today's companies, but talking the talk and laying down investment dollars are two entirely different things. "It's probably not until things start picking up that companies will do anything other than patch-the-hole solutions," he predicts. "On one hand, this would give those willing to take this step now the chance to get ahead of the competition. On the other hand, many corporations have the 'cash is king' mentality and are hunkering down."

It's no shock that Goldberg says he holds the opposite view, and that this is the opportune moment -- despite the economy. "We actually think the timing is perfect," he insists. "People are looking to plan for what they need to do now during the recession in order to more effectively align themselves to take advantage of next year. This is the perfect time for us to be launching to the market."

Gliedman says the proof will be in the adoption, but, either way, other vendors will likely be aiming their upcoming solutions down the same silo-breaking paths. "This is the first of what I expect to be a wave of products that eventually look like this," he says. "It's the first one, and it's the right way to do things."

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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