I’m no great fan of three-letter acronyms, so I wondered what KANA Software means by positioning itself as the leader in service experience management (SEM), which is a term I had not heard. I have thought of KANA as a CRM vendor, but through a program of internal development and two acquisitions, it has transformed itself into something quite different. The acquisition of Lagan in 2010 added additional CRM functionality, enterprise case management and a track record of providing solutions to public-sector authorities. In April of this year Kana announced the acquisition of Overtone, which added text analytics capabilities, with a particular focus on analyzing content extracted from social media.
So how does this all add up to SEM, and what is SEM actually? A look at KANA’s website site suggests it is the combination of three products: an agent desktop, Web self-service and knowledge management. From my perspective, this is three-quarters of what our firm calls customer experience management (CEM). Ventana Research defines CEM as the practice of managing the effectiveness of customer interactions, and it embraces four main technologies: a smart agent desktop, smart self-service applications, customer feedback management and social media management.
Whether this is CEM or SEM is not really the issue; what is important is the business processes and activities the products support. CEM includes understanding how customer interactions were handled in the past, how they are being handled at the present time, what the outcomes were of those interactions (what the customers experienced and how they reacted) and how the customer experience can be improved, and then delivering those improvements through knowledge-driven technologies and knowledge-enabled people.
If you look behind the covers of the three KANA products, this is indeed what they support. Overall there are capabilities to design the customer experience processes, deliver customer experiences at all touch points, analyze customer feedback to gauge customer reactions and link this back into improving the design of interaction processes. KANA has a highly graphical product that supports the design of interaction-handling processes using point-and-click capabilities to select standardized or custom-designed activities and build them into process maps. There are prebuilt tools to integrate with a variety of applications, and they include the ability to build customer-specific interfaces. A knowledge management tool supports the production of a knowledge base that can deliver information to agents or the website in ways that enhance the customer experience. A case management tool records customer issues and tracks progress through the resolution process. Text analytics can analyze customer feedback either in the form of text (such as surveys, emails or letters) or from social media. And there are capabilities to analyze how the interaction-handling processes are performing and how future experiences can be improved. Kana is working on delivering many of these capabilities, reports and dashboards to intelligent mobile devices so it can keep up with the increasing demand for information on the move.
No matter what we call the product category, what counts today is the customer experience, whether it occurs through marketing, sales, customer service, the contact center; a phone call, email, chat session, self-service or social media. Get it right and key metrics such as customer satisfaction, first-contact resolution, net provide score and customer experience score will improve, and operational costs will go down. Get it wrong and customers will leave or perhaps say bad things about your company on social media. What is your company doing to improve the customer experience?
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director