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Pegasystems enhances customer service, CX workflows

Pegasystems users get access to long-awaited Process Fabric automation tool, as well as new vertical-specific customer service tools and AI for interactive voice response.

In the wake of the pandemic, large CX vendors have created prebuilt workflow tools for customers in specific vertical industries to assist the launch of new customer service initiatives. Pegasystems is the latest to jump on the trend.

At its PegaWorld Inspire 2021 virtual user conference, Pegasystems released tools it calls microjourneys, which are Pega Customer Service tools tailored for workflows specific to telecommunications, financial services and insurance.

Microjourneys work as templates from which to automate the resolution of common customer service issues. The new vertical-specific tools add to a library of 180 existing preconfigured service actions in Pega Customer Service.

Other CX platform vendors have catered to users in those verticals as well. Salesforce acquired Vlocity for $1.3 billion last year, and within a few months released industry clouds. Oracle and Microsoft also released features for those industries to automate customer service, as calls multiplied during the pandemic and swamped their operations.

Compared with the early days of CRM and customer service technologies, today's platform users expect more out of their vendors as they seek to use data from those applications elsewhere in the organizations, said Predrag Jakovljevic, an analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers. To get there, users increasingly lean on vendors and consultants to provide custom tools for their specific industries.

That kind of a control tower and visibility across multiple stakeholders and apps is what is needed.
Predrag JakovljevicAnalyst, Technology Evaluation Centers

"CRM was a departmental solution that worked fine horizontally," Jakovljevic said. "When CRM was mere contact management, what kind of vertical focus did you need? But when it comes to [today's] order-to-cash and order fulfillment processes, each industry needs different features."

Combined with Pega Process Fabric, announced last year and going live now, the microjourney tools harmonize actions across cloud applications, whether they're Pega applications or from other vendors such as Salesforce. Orchestration software from vendors such as Pega and MetaCX are on the cutting edge of new technologies that weave CRM into more business processes, Jakovljevic said.

"I think Pega Process Fabric is trying to fix the issue that CRM software only cares about the customer. The focus should instead be on holistic processes from the supplier, partner, customer, banks, et cetera," Jakovljevic said. "That kind of a control tower and visibility across multiple stakeholders and apps is what is needed."

AI can make IVR smarter

Pega Customer Service users also can inject AI into their interactive voice response (IVR), the automated answering systems most contact centers employ to route customers to agents with different competencies.

The new AI feature can identify and predict customer issues by scanning for open service tickets or analyzing the customer's behavior from recent company website visits, Pegasystems CTO Don Schuerman said. Based on that context analysis, IVR bots can offer service ticket updates or marketing content to fit what the AI predicts is the customer's reason for calling.

Call deflection and self-service automation is the endgame for making IVR smarter than just "press 1 for sales, press 2 for service," Schuerman said. But it also can arm human agents with more specific information to help solve customer issues faster.

"We can take the contextual information we know about what the customer is trying to do and make the IVR smarter, so that it's not just a static list of options," Schuerman said. "It's dynamically tailored [and] is going to be most relevant for that specific customer, with the goal of providing both a faster and better customer experience."

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