KANA Attempts the Union of Customer Acquisition and Service

KANA Software is a global provider in customer service solutions delivered on-premise or in the cloud, and these solutions unify and maintain context for customer journeys across agent, Web, social, and mobile experiences. The vendor’s solutions have reduced handling time, increased resolution rates, and improved net promoter score (NPS) at more than 850 enterprises, including half of the Global 100 and more than 250 government agencies.

The KANA Service Experience Management (SEM) platform combines the realms of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Business Process Management (BPM), Knowledge Management, Text Analytics, and Social Media to support the delivery of good experiences on brands and on budget across multiple customer interaction channels. Most recently, at the IQPC 2012 Call Center Week event, the vendor introduced new capabilities in its enterprise customer service solution, designed to support the new strategic imperative in Web Customer Service (WCS) -- customer acquisition.

The reality is that most companies still think of sales & marketing and customer service departments and activities as very separate. One activity happens and then the other one happens (or not) sequentially. Conversely, KANA believes that a closer marriage of marketing and customer service is the future.

How Can Customer Service Help New Sales?

Prospective new customers start their journey online these days, so much more commerce happens online, and while they are trying to carry out a transaction (self-service) they are really on their own. KANA feels that all the tools and technology used in customer service (knowledge base, chat, co-browsing SMS, etc.) can and should also be used during the sales & marketing process as well. This way KANA wants to bring Web customer service (WCS) tools to self-service (e-commerce) to help customers more effectively.

For example, you are online evaluating a new smart phone purchase. You want to buy but there are so many overwhelming choices (sound familiar?). You need help, but where do you go? The customer service content is within another part of the Web site, while a call to the contact center means pausing or abandoning your online transaction. Wouldn’t it be better if you got presented with knowledge in context, i.e., “here’s a comparison of the two products you are looking at,” or “this document contrasts differing rates plans for these phones.” Even better, a chat agent could reach out “I see you are trying to evaluate these phones, how can I help with that?”

To that end, KANA is bringing WCS to online/e-business and so creating a stronger partnership between sales/marketing and customer service through use of the same tools (i.e., experience flows, social & text analytics, and contextual knowledge) re-purposed for the Web. This could ensure better customer satisfaction, fewer lost opportunities, loyal customers, and a good buying experience while online. Businesses will increasingly have to take this approach, because competitors are just a click away.

How was it done before? Well, it wasn’t really. The departments did not talk, did not share processes, and did not connect across the customer lifecycle. They thought about the customer journey as a linear track (see figure above), when really the customer experience must be all about consistent messages, consistent answers, consistent service, from initial discovery and evaluation onwards.

It will be interested to watch whether and how Oracle might produce a similar offering based on its related acquisitions of ATG, inQuira, Vitrue, and RightNow. Dear readers, what do you think about KANA’s new approach, and what are your experiences both as a multi-channel consumer and product & service provider?
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