In healthcare the biggest – and very long overdue – shift is from reactive to proactive healthcare: instead of fixing people when they get sick, helping to keep them healthy.
This idea of shifting from reactive to proactive is also being applied to customer service by the very interesting enterprise technology vendor Pega , which pushes it further to frame “preemptive” customer service, avoiding any need for customers to seek assistance.
In this compact interview, I ask John Huehn, Pega’s General Manager, Customer Service Offerings, about how to enable organizations to implement proactive and preemptive customer service. A full transcript of the video is below.
John, a pleasure to be speaking with you.
Thanks, Ross. Great to be here, good to be talking to you.
In medicine, we have this whole movement for reactive medicine – you fix people when they get sick – to proactive, where you help them to stay healthy. Pega is on a similar journey. You want to go from reactive customer service to proactive customer service, and you’re even talking about preemptive customer service, so you stop even needing any help. I’d love to hear how Pega thinka about that, and how do you actually make that happen?
Great. That’s a big question. That’s exciting stuff, and I think about it as a three phase process for companies and they may be anywhere on this journey at the moment, Ross. But the first thing I think about is contextual customer service. If you went back in the history of time, there were times where we didn’t actually have any information about our customers and they’d contact us and everything was 100% reactive. Now we get into the world of contextual customer service, where we know things about the customer. We have data, we have information, we can tie systems together. And we might know, for example, that a customer opened a claim on a website, and now they’re calling us, and we can leverage the fact that we know that they have a claim on the website and say, “Hey, are you calling us about that claim?”
That just is the first step for us on this journey as leveraging contextual service, knowing the customer and being able to respond to events that are going on in their world. The next step for that is about proactive customer service, which is really about sensing needs as they happen and as the customer is engaging. You think about this world today, where many of us are working from home and we’re very reliant on the internet. Say there’s an outage or an issue in your area and your internet goes down. You don’t want to be at a spot where you’re going, “Oh my gosh, is it my router? Is it my connection? Is it my computer?” The telecoms and your internet provider actually knows where you live, where your service is and if they are having a problem.
A great proactive example is a telecom or an internet provider actually reaching out to say, “I’m going to send an email or an SMS when the service goes down,” so that hopefully through a different service, you’ll be able to get the message that says, “Hey, don’t worry, there’s an issue in your area. We know, and we’re working on it. You don’t even need to call and ask us.” That’s the proactive service side. The next step beyond that is really getting into preemptive customer service, which is about anticipating needs before they even become a servicing event and taking care of those preemptively. So an example of that would be like in the banking world where maybe a customer has a whole bunch of bills that they have on autopay, that are automatically debited from their account. Mortgage, the cable bill or the bill or the wireless bill, car payments, come out of the bank account automatically.
The bank can see how much is in the bank account and knows that these payments are going to come out. So great experience here in the preemptive is, if taking out the mortgage is going to put you in overdraft, then before we even take the mortgage, we’re reaching out and say, “Hey, I just want to make sure you know we’re going to take the mortgage. That’s going to put you into overdraft. Would you like to get some overground draft protection before you go down that path?” That’s really taking it from just knowing about the customer and then knowing about the customer and the circumstances that may be impacting them and proactively reaching out. And then the third part, preemptive is, even before that service event happens or the event happens that could cause the problem, that we’re addressing that at the root before it actually requires anybody to contact you or that they would even know.
I think most people can relate to the examples you’ve given, particularly keeping connected. This becomes then, a design process. Then an organization needs to work out what are those ways you can pull back to be before customers try to get service. How do you design this into the system?
For us, it’s going to be about leveraging that data. Pega has what we call our ‘always on brain’ that’s leveraging that customer data to identify trigger events and what relates specifically to that individual customer. I think another great example just to illustrate that is the wireless space and customers that may have data limits. My plan comes with unlimited calling, but I get 12 gigabytes of data. And instead of being in a spot where you go over your data and get a bill for your increased data usage or anything like that, a preemptive environment enables the wireless company to say, “I know that Ross has this data limit and I’m watching Ross, and he’s now at 75% usage of that data limit. Before he even gets to the spot where he’s going to trip it, I’m going to send Ross a text to say, ‘Hey, just a heads up. You’re at 75% of your usage. Rather than getting the $150 overage bill, would you like to do the $10 incremental addition to your data plan?'” I think that’s a great service experience, leveraging data. Non-intrusive, nothing scary, nothing that should cause concern to customers, just good, helpful simplification of the service experience and a good customer experience.
So you use that term ‘trigger point’. And so you’re saying there’s ways that you can surface what trigger points to customer service needs might be?
I think that’s about contextual service. Going back to that concept of knowing who the customer is, knowing the situation that they’ve got, if there is a trigger point, “Hey, you reached 75%,” or, “Hey, there’s an outage,” or, “Hey, there’s something that’s going on in that environment,” and being able to identify that up and triggering an event, we can make that happen.
Well, that’s fantastic. I’m personally a big fan of the idea of moving to proactive and preemptive customer service so I never have to call my providers again.
Well, that’s great. Thanks Ross. Appreciate you taking the time.
Great. Thank you, John.