Suman Reddy, MD, Pegasystems India

Suman Reddy, MD, Pegasystems India: “AI-Powered Bots Can Improve Customer Experiences”

“Build for Change” is a phrase that truly defines Pegasystems India Managing Director Suman Reddy. A technology leader with experience of more than two decades, he is a core member of the company’s global corporate strategy team, and has been able to redefine how Indian business leaders are driving change in MNCs by influencing corporate goal setting, strategic planning, and building software products. In an interview with Anusha Ashwin, he talks about the impact of COVID-19 on the telecom sector, the use of AI by telcos, and how technology can help meet the changing customer needs. Excerpts:

How will you describe the empathy aspect of artificial intelligence (AI) in telcos, especially during the pandemic? Why is this important?

In the super competitive telecommunication industry, providing a positive customer experience is critical as it is tied directly to customer retention and future business growth. This has led to the rapid adoption of AI-powered bots to improve customer experiences with better service speed and quality.

While AI brings established benefits for the industry such as detecting and fixing network anomalies, it can also add value to other less well-known areas, such as providing higher customer satisfaction, greater user engagement, and cost-savings. Providing superior customer service while improving retention and operational efficiency can be a tricky balance to achieve, especially in a pandemic. This requires a data-driven approach that can help forge better customer relationships and reduce churn. This could be achieved with AI by using it to anticipate and address evolving expectations, understand changing needs, and shifts in customer behaviour while respecting customer privacy. It is also pertinent to resolve concerns with empathy while also responding with agility. Imagine the success rate of self-service channels which can understand customer sentiments or intent and transfer this context as conversations move between channels.

So, where does Pegasystems fit in this scenario? How are you helping the telcos deliver better customer satisfaction?

The COVID-19 pandemic created a massive opportunity to add value to customers’ lives. The ongoing shift to virtual reliability for everything under the sun – payment of bills, virtual education classes, remote working – has created an increasing focus on empathetic solutions. An unpleasant or irrelevant customer interaction could lead to customer dissatisfaction. Our empathetic AI-featured Customer Decision Hub helps the telcos analyze the vast amount of customer data, reduce churn enabling them to dynamically build personalized offers for customers during the time of hardships, while reducing retention costs. There are different ways in which Pega helps telcos with empathetic solutions to drive customer satisfaction.

We help reduce customer churn and retention cost by dynamically building personalized offers for customers. With built-in guided retention process in its industry-best solutions, we help telcos manage customer retention. It identifies and mitigate triggers in real-time that lead to customer dissatisfaction and churn such as service disruptions, web usage indicators, and social media interactions and automatically responds with meaningful offers and messages personalized for each customer’s situation.

Another way is through engagement of customers with omnichannel conversations. We ensure customers communicate via the channels they prefer while ensuring a consistent and relevant response as they traverse each channel. This, in return, increases customer satisfaction and acceptance rate. We also help every customer receive the optimum message in all outbound and digital channels, with laser-focused targeting and delivery with increased conversion rates and action customer responses in real-time, using automated campaign flows. We enable telcos to be agile and in-control of the process management as it tests complex strategies and manages revision with state-of-the-art approval. It measures progress and impact in real time with communications industry-specific marketing dashboards

What about the negative impacts of COVID 19? How can telcos overcome the pitfalls?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an opportunity for the telecom service providers to add value to customers’ lives. The ongoing shift to home-offices, home-study environment has increased the demand for faster network infrastructure and humane telecommunications. Solutions to help respond to the immediate crisis do not need to be a massive undertaking but launching cloud-based platforms could help attending to customer requirements within a few days by mitigating all the redundant automated voice calls and long waits before getting hold of an agent. Offering empathetic solutions is the only way to strike the right chord.

With the ongoing pandemic woos, responding to government mandates for 60-day payment deferrals could be an added burden, not only to the customers but also to the already-taxed call centre staff. Creating a self-contained digital workflow will enable the customers to self-assess and request a modified payment plan that would reduce their miseries. Providing customers with a web-based and mobile-app problem-solving experience with “digital experts” such as web self-service, mobile apps, and intelligent assistants like chatbots and email bots could relieve stress, increase satisfaction, accelerate faster response time, and reduce churn. Technologies like AI can solve a problem by identifying customers that are experiencing issues with their service. Engaging proactively with empathetic, suitable retention offers can solve their hardships during these pandemic days.

How will cloud contribute to Digital process automation?

Digital process automation is the use of digital technology to perform processes to achieve a company’s workflow or business goals. At Pega, we’re now embracing the term “Intelligent Automation”, which we feel represents the completeness of our automation capabilities, from BPM to RPA to case management to bots to AI. The process encompasses various automation capabilities such as cognitive chatbots, robotic process automation, and machine learning to transform the process operation. Intelligent Automation enables enterprises to put a framework, or “case”, around each business processes or tasks. Visualize each case, and then automate it by integrating robots. This ensures consistent results, clear expectations, simplified communications, and unified data that provides real accountability across people, processes, and channels. Today, visibility into the work and status of work is more important than ever, and Intelligent Automation solution delivers just that.

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