Vendor Spotlight: KANA Software

Welcome to TEC's Vendor Spotlight series. This installment focuses on KANA Software, a company founded in 1996 that has evolved from e-mail management into service experience management. See how KANA's software and service offerings help more than 600 customers manage the entire customer service lifecycle, from initial customer contact through to satisfaction survey responses or peer-to-peer sharing of the customer experience.

Company Background

Founded in 1996 as KANA Communications, KANA Software started as an e-mail management software company, with a focus on customer service. When Mark Gainey launched the company, many companies were more or less ignoring customer e-mail, as there was no robust software for managing these communications. KANA was founded to answer this challenge, by offering a tool to help businesses communicate with customers via e-mail as well as Web-based channels.

Its success was demonstrated by solid organic growth, complemented by the addition of new modules to the core customer management system (CMS):

  • KANA Direct, for building customized e-mail lists and for more precise targeting
  • KANA Classify, for analyzing and sorting messages
  • KANA Link, for integrating with customer databases

KANA went public in 1999, and later acquired Connectify, Business Evolution, and NetDialog. In 2000, KANA merged with Silknet Software (a vendor offering a complementary e-business solution), and in 2001 acquired Broadbase Software (a customer analytics software vendor). KANA acquired Hipbone, a chat and co-browse solution, in 2004. Since 2010, KANA has been owned by Accel-KKR, a technology-focused equity firm. In the fourth quarter of 2010, KANA acquired government customer relationship management (CRM) software vendor Lagan Technologies, based in Belfast (Northern Ireland).

On the business software side, KANA partners with major vendors like Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM. KANA partners with resellers such as Brick Street, Kahuna, and Virtuos to extend its global reach in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific. KANA has over 150 staff on its services team, and partners with IBM, Accenture, and BearingPoint for system integrations.

KANA has more than 600 customers, including major US and global banks (Bank of America, ING), general retailers (Walmart, Target), specialty retailers (Home Depot, Best Buy), and telecom companies (AT&T, Verizon). It also targets industries such as health care, government and education, transportation/hospitality, and high technology.

The most recent addition to the KANA family is the social media monitoring and analytics solution vendor Overtone. Overtone is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) multichannel listening solution that collects, categorizes, analyzes, and reports on customer feedback and social media. It detects customer sentiment and emerging trends around customer issues, tapping into Facebook, Twitter, and standard service channels.

Evolving from E-mail Management to “Service Experience Management”

The main pain points KANA seeks to address are the disconnected technologies and business processes used by many companies for customer service. Indeed, from the very beginning, KANA has focused on customer service. Its mergers and acquisitions—as well as internal product development—led to its KANA Service Experience Management (SEM) offering, which provides a blend of customer service, knowledge management, and case management.

KANA SEM brings together functionality traditionally offered via separate products, including customer service, business process management, e-service, knowledge and case management, and customer analytics. KANA SEM is built on service-oriented architecture (SOA) and is a Web-based product.

KANA SEM offers technology and functionality for companies to create and manage a complete real-time feedback loop, starting and ending with the customer. By gathering and managing customer feedback, companies can better respond to customers, as well as building knowledge bases which can later be used by customer service representatives (CSRs), or by clients through selfservice portals. Workflow and business process management functionality help CSRs work more efficiently within a centralized system. Finally, reporting and analytics functionality provides important data for supervisors and decisions makers on the performance of the customer service team, which can be used as a basis for fine-tuning the system, in order to improve both employee performance and customer satisfaction.

KANA also provides functionality for collaboration, online chat, interface modeling (through the visual experience designer), and knowledge management delivery (through its Service Experience Orchestrator).

KANA SEM is modular in design, and customers can choose to use individual modules (such as knowledge management), or the complete package. To address enterprise resource planning (ERP) and CRM integration requirements, KANA has a network of partners, which includes resellers and consultants (global or local) and technology partners.

There are a number of KANA services worth highlighting, as they’re designed to complement its software:

  • Multichannel call center design—KANA provides assistance in creating and managing the infrastructure needed for an efficient call center, including support for voice, chat, e-mail, and mobile devices.
  • Knowledge management—KANA can create and deploy processes that will help companies present the right knowledge at the right time to agents and self-service customers
  • Web communities for self-service—“Gen Y” and the social media-savvy are likely to turn to communities and forums for advice on problem resolution, rather than interacting with a CSR. KANA can build Web 2.0-friendly forums in support of its clients.
  • Measurement and feedback management— KANA assists its customers in defining and managing useful key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics, and helps them understand how to conduct the appropriate analysis by listening to voice of customer and social channels.

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