|October 23, 2000|
Kana Puts On A New Face
Upgrade integrates Silknet's CRM technology to help agents track customers
By Jeff Sweat
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Kana already had rolled out a product that started to integrate the Silknet technology, but it was mostly cosmetic. It looked like a single application to users, but underneath, there were two versions of business rules, workflow, and customer data.
The integration in Kana 6 runs deeper. It provides a single Web interface to customer-service agents, allowing them to access all the functions of the formerly separate applications. More important, though, Kana now links the business rules and data between the two systems. For example, agents communicating with customers by E-mail can switch to chat or the telephone without losing the data associated with them.
This unified approach could help businesses improve customer management, regardless of how customers contact the business. "Companies now have the tools to treat the customers consistently," says Erin Kinikin, an analyst at Giga Information Group. If a company has separate business rules for customer interactions in different channels, it's much more difficult to ensure that those rules are updated simultaneously. If a company decides that a certain customer is a high priority in E-mail communications, it also needs to make sure that the customer is a high priority in telephone or chat communications. Kana 6 will do that.
Not all Kana customers are concerned about the integration issue yet. Eastman Kodak Inc., the Rochester, N.Y., imaging and film company, has deployed Kana's E-mail response management product to handle the 1,000 E-mails it gets daily. But it has no immediate plans to adopt the former Silknet CRM technology; Kodak has already deployed Vantive Corp.'s CRM product for that. "To move to Kana [for CRM] would be starting over," says Tim Nichols, call-center manager for Kodak's global customer service and support. "We're not prepared to do that just yet."
Kodak plans to adopt Kana 6 in about six months. The main attraction for Nichols is an upgrade to the E-mail response functionality. Kana 6 makes it possible to queue E-mail and build reports on E-mail patterns, much as call centers do for traditional phone interactions--a feature that Kana and its competitors lack. "That's a weakness of most of the early E-mail management vendors," he says. Kana competes against tools from vendors such as Brightware, eGain, and E.piphany.
Other features are improved selling and marketing tools. Also noteworthy, says Kinikin, is Kana 6's support for computer-telephony integration, which indicates that it's more serious about moving beyond E-mail response management. Kana 6, available now, starts at $250,000.
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