Kana Makes a Move in Customer Experience Space

Kana plans to build out its customer service experience management bona fides with its recent acquisition of contact center provider Ciboodle from the Sword Group.

The point of the acquisition is to weave together Ciboodle’s chief strengths — its process-based customer contact management platform, agent desktop tools and case management expertise — with what Kana does well, said Vikas Nehru, vice president of marketing for Kana. That would include email response management, knowledge management, Web self-service, and live chat, a category sometimes called “Web customer service.”


“Ciboodle brings a depth and expertise in the customer service market that is difficult to find elsewhere,” Nehru told CRM Buyer.

Kana announced the deal earlier this week. The terms were not disclosed.

Ciboodle’s Secret Sauce

One reason for Ciboodle’s success is that because it is a process-based application, it can be easily tailored, Nehru said.

For example, it is the type of application that can be easily configured to handle both retail and financial service calls, which are two very different industries.

At bottom, service calls are all a matter of defining steps and then prompting the agent to follow through appropriately, which is what Ciboodle does, noted Nehru.

Take a wire transfer, for example. A bank might decide that the customer service rep has to go through five steps to process the transfer, he said. The first step is to validate the customer, the second is to ask the amount of the transfer. The third is to inquire about the location. From there, the process branches out in different directions, depending on whether or not international regulations come into play, Nehru said. Ditto if t he amount is over, say, US$10,000.

“The bank, using Ciboodle, then creates the scripts and the screens for the customer service agent, tying the entire business process together, ” he said. “The agent is then walked through the process step by step.”

The application is strong enough that it can compete with, Oracle’s RightNow and Pegasystems, he maintained.

What Kana plans to do is add its own expertise — particular the knowledge management skill set — to this environment, Nehru continued. “Our goal is to make the Web service and contact center service experience a seamless one. By integrating Ciboodle, we will be in a position to offer that experience across all channels. No matter what channel a customer uses, she won’t feel disconnected from the brand.”

Ciboodle’s functionality will be offered to Kana’s customers immediately, Nehru said. A deeper integration of the two applications is expected to roll out in between six and nine months.

An Industry Waiting for Change

The acquisition will give Kana a boost as it seeks to make inroads into the customer service experience management space — an industry that has been sized by Forrester Research and Gartner to be a $5 billion market that is forecast to grow between 5 percent and 12 percent by 2015.

Kana’s acquisition earlier this year of Trinicom, a provider of cloud-based Web customer service and customer interaction management, is also part of this strategy.

Right now, in fact, is the perfect time for Kana to make this push, Esteban Kolsky, principal with ThinkJar, told CRM Buyer.

“The leader in this space was RightNow Technologies, but since they were acquired by Oracle, they have been in a quiet period so to speak, as they try to figure out who they are under Oracle,” he said. In short, there is room in the market for another company or companies to come to the forefront with new products and services.

By integrating their offerings, Kana and Ciboodle will not only drive development, Kolsky continued, but also could inspire other firms to move forward as well.

Industry-wide implications aside, Kana’s acquisition of Ciboodle will be good for Kana’s bottom line, Kolsky said.

“Kana has been working with IBM, which offers great technology but can be very expensive,” he pointed out. “Ciboodle’s strong business process management engine will shore up Kana’s SEM offerings, make them more interesting, and probably at a more cost-effective price point.”

Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.

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