Pegasystems Puts Some Intelligence Behind Customer

With businesses seeking customer service solutions more sophisticated than the standard call center, a company with a history in artificial intelligence is well positioned to deliver needed software. Pegasystems' rule-based technology allows marketing management to quickly and inexpensively adjust to the needs of specific customer segments, according to CEO Alan Trefler.

The Cambridge, Mass., company is approaching the CRM problem with mission-critical systems based on an "old" technology: artificial intelligence." Smarter systems will dramatically change the way that we think of service and technology in the coming years," Trefler says.

In the 1970s and 80s, Trefler was a prominent contributor to the field of expert systems, working to automate the human decision process in a fully intelligent way. Through his early work in the banking industry, he recognized the need for savvy CRM solutions to support telephone-based commerce--and nowadays, e-commerce.

The challenge of today, as Pegasystems sees it, is not simply to route calls, but to empower sales or customer representatives with targeted knowledge and streamline their workflows. This virtually mandates a rules-based approach, instead of older, hard-coded systems, Trefler says. Recent advances in rules-based technology offers significant competitive advantages by simultaneously increasing responsiveness and reducing costs.

Euro cell phone provider Orange Communications of Switzerland recently deployed the PegaSystem suite to stay ahead in the highly competitive European mobile market, where cutting-edge products and services are important, but the real key to success seems to lie in having one's finger on the customer's pulse.

Orange faces special challenges in competing in the Swiss market, starting with the recent break-up of the ex-state-owned monopoly. "Orange was the third entrant in the Swiss market so it had to differentiate by better customer service," says Pegasystems marketing manager Charles Paumelle. "The Pegasystems solution manages the full lifecycle of the customer thanks to an Internet-based approach. All customer queries are then responded to with a very personal touch."

Another challenge for Orange is fielding the surging volume of calls. After demand sky-rocketed, the dilemma for the company was how to respond quickly and effectively to potential new customers without giving short shrift to existing ones.

"We are particularly impressed with the extension of the Pegasystems technology, which has enabled us to automate the subscriber activation function," says Brian Carr, head of IT for Orange. "Mobile phone dealers are able to access an on-line activation system via a standard Web browser. This is powered by Pegasystems PegaWeb product which provides the activation functionality and communicates with the back-end systems."

According to Pegasystems VP and general manager David Wells, "Customer service representatives can generally handle multiple languages and switch from one to the other very quickly. The application removes the stress of figuring out which language to speak for a new call, as the screens and prompts appear straight away in the appropriate language."

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