ServiceWare Technologies is branching into the mid-market with a new suite of knowledge management tools for customer service and support. The offering, dubbed ServiceWare Express, includes Web self-service, e-mail response management, chat and agent-facing tools, such as case management and reporting.
The differentiating factor for ServiceWare is its long heritage in knowledge management for large enterprise applications, Joanie Rufo, research director at AMR Research, told CRM Buyer. The cost-conscious mid-market is a promising frontier for both knowledge management and CRM, she said.
Indeed, coming to CRM from the knowledge management arena gives ServiceWare a unique perspective, ServiceWare director of product management Eileen Weinstein told CRM Buyer. “We can help customers develop an ROI model for implementing knowledge management and CRM by reducing the time a call takes or increasing call-avoidance with Web self-service,” she said. “Customer-support agents and end users need a knowledge-centered, rather than a sales-automation, approach.”
Also, according to Weinstein, “There’s no need for a standing staff of engineers” — an important factor in the resource-strapped mid-market.
Hosted and Unhosted Parties
“The mid-market isn’t interested in paying premium prices for large suites with a lot of functionality going unused,” Meta Group vice president Timothy Hickernell told CRM Buyer. “There’s a lot of unsatisfied demand in the mid-market for hosted solutions.”
Hosted applications are attractive for mid-size companies, which typically start with 25 or fewer seats. Despite this small number, the new software gives companies the option of eventually scaling up for on-site installation, Hickernell said.
ServiceWare Express is designed to be implemented in as few as 14 business days. The system’s J2EE architecture gives clients flexibility to scale and adapt as business needs grow.
ServiceWare’s foray into the mid-market gives customers new options, Rufo said, adding that there are only a few best-of-breed players left, including RightNow and Telisma.
As the market heats up, smaller contenders face competition from large, established CRM companies with broad offerings. For example, CRM newcomer Microsoft is making a big play for the mid-market.
Time will tell how ServiceWare will stack up against large and small rivals, according to Rufo. “Although the product was just released and it remains to be seen whether mid-market companies will turn to ServiceWare Express, its prospects do look promising,” she said. “It’s intuitive and easy to use.”
ServiceWare Express’ Web self-service functions include a built-in e-mail response management system, a self-serve knowledge base, dynamic FAQs (frequently asked questions), live chat and a case management system.
The technology is powered by the company’s patented self-learning and self-organizing knowledge engine, the Cognitive Processor, which enables a company’s knowledge base to grow with use and eliminates the need for dedicated maintenance staff. The offering’s self-help component allows intelligent searching of the knowledge base through the Cognitive Processor and includes multiple escalation channels, such as e-mail and chat, which are integrated with the agent-facing functions.
The agent workstation includes a visual queue of interactions through ServiceWare’s case-management tool and multiple communication channels. The tool also allows agents to instantly search for structured knowledge within the ServiceWare knowledge base or add new knowledge to the system. ServiceWare Express also includes quality assurance and workflow tools, as well as prepackaged reporting capabilities to measure the knowledge base’s use and effectiveness.