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Today’s interview is with Rob Walker, Vice President Decision Management and Analytics at Pegasystems and is responsible for the company’s suite of predictive decisioning technologies. I had a chat with Rob at Pega’s annual customer event: Pegaworld 2016 to find out more about what makes Pega different and a bit more about their analytics and decisioning technology, how it can be applied and how it can improve the customer experience.
This interview follows on from my recent interview – Most personalisation initiatives fail to improve customer experience – Interview with Jan Jensen of CXense – and is number 184 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.
Disclaimer: I was invited along to attend Pega’s annual customer event: Pegaworld 2016 as part of their influencer outreach programme. They paid my travel and accommodation expenses but I was not paid to attend. Also, I was under no obligation to write anything about the event or interview anyone at the event. This podcast interview and a previous one came about only as a result of some of the interesting things that I saw at the event that I thought would be worth sharing. Disclaimer over. Enjoy.
Here’s the highlights of my interview with Rob:
- Rob believes that one of the things that is making Pega stand out is how they are using they decisioning technology, particularly in the customer experience space, to help companies make better decisions but then, crucially, take action to improve outcomes for customers.
- Combining process with decisioning is a unique combination, especially on single platform.
- Responding contextually is normal within regular conversations but is not normal in day-to-day customer service/experience.
- Decisioning is helping add context into customer service/experience interactions and recommendations (Next Best Action) in real time.
- Whilst they don’t do real-time analysis on speech they do work with technologies that can add that capability.
- When companies deploy Pega’s customer decision hub it becomes an organisation’s brain and memory across all channels driving relevance, context and a single and unified view of the customer.
- Rob describes an example of how the technology works in practice:
- Imagine you are a customer of a bank, you’re not logged in or anything but you are just browsing for information about a new mortgage, say. Whilst they don’t know who you are, they do track your journey through the website and based on what you click on they optimise the next page and the information you see based on their analytics and experience of what would be the next best thing for you to see.
- Then, based on your behaviour, they would then offer to send you more information via email. However, once they have your email address they then know who you are from the bank’s customer records . However, once they know who you are they can finesse the offer and information they send you a little to make sure that it suits your needs and preferences and also take into account your spending habits, credit score etc etc.
- That way whatever they offer they send does need to be conditional as they will have done all of the credit scoring and risk assessment through their ‘always on’ brain (Customer Decision Hub).
- When a company pursues customer centricity then, internally, a lot of people and systems need to talk to each other in order to deliver the customer experience that they desire.
- What companies need to be doing more of is to combine thinking about what is the best thing to do for the customer but also what is the best thing for the business to be doing such that it eliminates internal competition and aligns communications and marketing campaigns across functions.
- The paradigm shift to ‘one-to-one’ (personalisation) that we are seeing is not just that it is nice to do (it’s being polite, after all), it also delivers a personalised customer experience that stands out.
- To make interactions more human you need to understand human behaviour and to understand human behaviour you need to analyse data.
- When it comes to the customer experience, the ‘human touch’ does not always mean that things should always be done with warmth and emotion. Rather, communication should be contextual. We shouldn’t confuse emotions with some of the other qualities of human conversation.
- One of the next frontiers for Pega is to take their data and analytics capability and apply it to a brand’s listening and digital advertising (paid media, programmatic buying etc) efforts so that they can help brands align their marketing and communications with their customers and help them become more relevant.
- The second big area is how they will ultimately be able to use their data, analytics, AI and machine learning capabilities that spring from their ‘always on brain’ (the Customer Decision Hub) to help companies better understand all of the different actions, interactions and responses that occur between each customer and themselves such that they will be able to optimise their operations and customer experience in real time. This will mean that,eventually, their technology will be able to ‘run’ a small area of the company.
Dr. Rob F Walker is Vice-President Decision Management and Analytics at Pegasystems. Prior to the acquisition of Chordiant by Pegasystems in April 2010 he was responsible for managing the strategic direction and development of Chordiant’s industry-leading predictive decisioning technologies. As a member of the office of the CTO Rob also provided support to Chordiant’s global sales activities and partnership initiatives. He joined Chordiant when the company he co-founded in 2000, KiQ Ltd., was acquired by Chordiant in December of 2004. KiQ was a specialist provider of decision management and predictive analytics software.
Prior to joining Chordiant, Rob spent eight years in positions of increasing responsibility with leading global information technology consulting firm Capgemini. From 1999-2000, he served as Program Director for Capgemini during which time he was responsible for the creation, development and evangelization of technological innovations in the area of Information Capitalization (business intelligence and predictive analytics).
Rob holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Free University in the Netherlands.