Live from the 2007 KANA Customer Summit

Kana Summit Logo

The 2007 KANA Customer Summit kicked off yesterday in my backyard (Downtown San Jose), with over 100 customers in attendance.  The mood here is great, particularly with the event following on the heels of KANA’s pre-announcement last week of a tremendous Q3–21% revenue increase over Q2, and 23% over Q3 05.  The conference content is exceptional.  While there are plenty of breakouts on best practices, the keynotes so far have been very forward looking, with a focus on innovation in support processes and technology, Web 2.0, and Generation Y.

The opening keynote was from Patty Seybold on how successful companies are putting customers in the driver’s seat to define product direction and service experience.  Attendees all received a copy of her book, Outside Innovation: How Your Customers Will Co-Design Your Company’s Future.  I love presentations filled with real-world examples, and Patty delivered, with customer-led innovation stories from Jet Blue, Intuit, Nabisco, Staples and others.

Another highlight of Day 1 was a customer panel led by Marchai Bruchey, KANA’s CMO.  There were participants from Sprint, Carphone Warehouse, Starwood, Macrovision and MetLife–a great mix of industries.  Discussions included leveraging online communities for self-service, building loyalty, proactive support, and multi-channel adoption.  More companies are focusing on loyalty at the executive level, with titles like Chief Loyalty Offer (CLO) and Chief Experience Office (CExO) becoming more common.  Sprint, for example, recently named a Chief Service Officer, reporting to the CEO.

Mark Angel, KANA’s SVP of Corporate Strategy, gave a presentation on the future of customer service, including a slide I hope to borrow (OK, steal) on the levels of customer loyalty:  defection, satisfaction, affinity and advocacy.  As I’ve written about before, Mark is one of the people I go to for vision–he is brilliant–and he broached some challenging topics, including how application infrastructure must evolve to enable support centers to deliver exceptional support.

Day 2 opened this morning with Eric Chester, author of Employing Generation Why.   Eric pulled off the ultimate hat trick:  he explained how Generation-Y is different, why they are different, and how to manage them effectively, while maintaining respect (and even admiration) for the group.  Usually Gen-Y is spoken of in disparaging terms at industry events, but I don’t think anyone in the audience will view this increasingly important demographic in the same way again.  He also offered some surprising figures to illustrate the power of this group as consumers:

  • US teens spent $250B in 2006.  How’s that for buying power?
  • 17 year olds in the US have an average of $90 a week in discretionary spending.  That’s a lot of iTunes downloads.
  • 32% of all decisions in America on which restaurant restaurant to choose are made by kids under 12.  Happy meals for everyone!
  • 16% of groceries in America are selected by kids under 7.  Things have clearly changed since the ‘seen but not heard’ days of my childhood.  If I had pulled something off the shelf and put it in the shopping cart, I’d have been left with a bloody stump.

Now the pressure is really on, because I’m the closing keynote tomorrow morning!  Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading, and as always, add a comment or shoot me an email.

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