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PegaWorld iNspire 2023: How Telenet Elevates Customer Intimacy and Unlocks Business Value With Pega Customer Service

Telenet is on a mission to improve customer intimacy. They implemented Pega Customer Service and Customer Decision Hub several years ago and have never looked back. Telenet continues to unlock additional business value while improving customer intimacy year after year. Join this discussion to learn how Telenet navigated their service transformation and hear what’s next on their roadmap.


- My name is Fortuné Alexander, and I'm the Senior Director of Product Marketing for Customer Service and Sales Automation here at Pega. And I'm joined today by Brecht de Mulder, Head of Pega Customer Service Delivery at Telenet. And I think he's got a super cool title, especially having Pega in his job title. So, you know, we're talking to the right guy at Telenet when it comes to customer service. One thing before we get started, I just wanted to say, Brecht, congratulations to you and to your company for winning the Innovation Award last night in the Communications Industry Awards banquet. So that's great. These awards are, you know, debated amongst the Pega employees internally, and felt like you guys were very deserving, as well as your sister company,

- Yeah, we're honored. Thanks for that.

- Yeah, good, cool, cool. Well, before we dive too deep in, I know some of the folks in the room of course, know the Telenet story, but not everyone does. So do you mind just introducing the company and giving some fun facts and figures?

- Sure. Yeah, so basically Telenet is a Belgium company. I would like to say, well, I'm saying we're the best telco you can find in Belgium. So we are selling 4P products. We have around 2.5 million customers, spread over two brands. I think I've been working there for about 18 years, so it means something. I even moved house to come work closer to work. I love being there. The company culture, it's really great. It's all about, you know, everybody's welcome, very inclusive. And since a couple years we've been in investing into entertainment as well, which has added another layer to, you know, expanding a lot of things and making it even more interesting for everybody who works there. So, yeah, that's us.

- Great. No, I appreciate the intro in a nutshell. And then 18 years is quite a bit of time, so-

- Yeah, I feel old though.

- You really know the company inside and out, but you've been on the Pega journey for a while as well. I wondered if you could just share for the audience, like where you started with Pega, and kind of how you got started, and then we'll go from there.

- Yeah, so 18 years ago I started as a call center agent, which, you know, was I guess the most stressful job I ever did in my entire life. Then afterwards, I evolved into other roles within the same space, a business architecture, and then there was this huge transformation program that we were doing within Telenet, where I, together with this guy right over there, we took up the responsibility to take care of Pega Customer Service, so there was a lot of challenges there, and, you know, we started that from scratch. So I did a role there as a stream lead product owner. I, for a short while I also did some things in CDH, and then I became a Chapter Lead for Pega. So I've touched every single aspect you can, I think. And now I'm heading the delivery team. So I have three amazing teams who are responsible for delivering everything which is related to customer service.

- That's great.

- So that's yeah, long time.

- Fantastic, well, maybe since you started with CDH, can you just tell a little bit about the CDH journey for a moment?

- Sure. I have a very, you know, they know a lot better than me with CDH, so if you ever wanna talk to somebody with internet, with real knowledge, like Pedro and Tina, right over there are actually our main experts, and are leading this now on CDH. The interesting part that I would like to say there is when we started off our journey on CDH, we actually approached it as an IT project. We were replacing Accordion within, you know, the same timelines as our digital transformation. And it really started, once we put the foundations in, it really start to accelerate, and that's thanks to Tina on getting more deliverables in. And if you can see that on the screen. And I know Tina are these still actual? You probably have delivered more in a meanwhile, right? So we are constantly evolving, but the main takeaway for me there is that we decided to approach it as a business program. We called segment of one, so we kind of clubbed it there. And that really generated a lot of visibility and gave us the buy-in to invest more into the product, and the reasoning behind it, so that's basically the story there. So there's a lot of figures here, and if you wanna add an alternate after this session, you can reach out to her on how she's dealing with that. But I think, yeah, we've evolved, the last year we've done amazing footwork to get this done, so.

- Yeah, when I look at the conversion, especially on the inbound channel of over 10%, that's really commendable and exciting to see. And before we kind of move into the customer service a bit more, I imagine some of that inbound obviously is in the contact center. So your agents are having success making those offers, which is-

- Yeah, you should know. It's only an MVP, So what we've have running now within our customer services, we just show the NBA, but we already see it's hugely success successful, and we're looking to evolve that even more towards proactive service. I think in the coming months we'll be working on that closely together to, you know, to get that done as well because there's a lot of untapped potential there still.

- That's great and I didn't say this in the beginning and some were a little late coming in the room. We have allocated a bit of time after our chat for questions, so if you have any questions, you know, we'll take 'em here. Or if you don't wanna ask them in a big group, you can ask 'em afterwards as well, but, we've got our eye on the clock and we'll make sure get to the questions. But now let's get to the heart and soul of this discussion, which is the customer service, you know, journey that you've been on with Pega. If you could kind of paint the picture, you know, how you decided to go with Pega, what some of the issues you were facing and kind of, you know, where you are today?

- Yeah so basically when we decided to start our whole digital transformation program, we had to make a choice so we saw two things. We had a big merger with the company called BASE. So we bought a mobile only company and we had two IT stacks. At the same time, we were noticing that on our very custom and quite performant CRM platform, we noticed that we couldn't do or build what we wanted anymore. We had some, I remember we had a conversation, a certain offer we wanted to put in, and it was a nightmare to get it configured. So we had to make a choice and we made a decision to scratch it all. So we said, look, our BSS layer, we're getting rid of it and we're gonna bring in a new one. For Pega we decided, look, this is gonna be our customer centric layer together with Adobe Experience Manager for the digital parts, but we're really decided, okay, we're gonna change the way we do this. The biggest benefits that we saw in, you know, getting that in was reducing the amount of systems that agents were working on, stuff like that. And then it took us a long time because, you know, if you come from a platform on which you have to click around a lot, knowledge is in the head of people. Business process documentation wasn't amazing. So it took us a while to get it right, but I'm glad to say that we're now fully live.

- Fantastic and you shared with me and I thought we could, you know, put this up now. You shared a picture of the footprint and some of the success you're driving. So maybe if you wanted to say a few words on that.

- Yeah, so basically what I said before, before I went, before we started the transformation itself, I actually visited one of our stores of our base brand. And we saw that they were working on a multitude of systems. Those people were doing the best that they could, but they were clicking around into so many different systems to get a simple business process fulfilled. And I'm not even talking about moving stuff to back offices, it was just getting simple stuff done. And with people in the store, that's horrible, right? I mean, it's not professional at all. So we saw that there was a real urgent need to do something about that. So we did that and today, the first feedback we got after our first iteration was that they were actually really happy to have a system which could guide them easily and, you know, get stuff done a lot quicker. Obviously, we still have to tweak a couple of things to get it totally right, but it made a huge difference. Then when CDH became more mature, we built the integration there as well as, as I just mentioned before. So we have that running as well. And today, because today Telenet is in a little bit of a crisis, we had some bad press, and we're very focused now on reducing our call handle times to make it more efficient for everybody. So the steps that we're taking now is looking at how can we align the KPIs, which are in our call centers on call handling time, first time right, these kind of things, and align them with, you know, what my teams are doing. If we are building something on a certain case, we prioritize the ones which will make sense and which will, you know, reduce calling hold time and make stuff easier for everyone. So that's a little bit on where we are. We have, you know, we launched, we have around 1800 agents, we have 30 plus, the plus is because there might be two or three more. So let's say two to three service cases, which are live today. We're also constantly re-looking at them. So maybe good to know, we release every two weeks. So we are operating in a sprint model. And the customer basis is, you know, when we are in transformation, we had to migrate a lot of customers from our legacy system. So most of them are migrated now. And yeah, it's in all of our channels. So that goes everywhere.

- That's great and when you and I spoke, you were telling me, you know, when you go through these transformations, and we've heard this from other clients as well, you launch something that's more efficient, but you don't always get the best feedback. Let's talk for a moment about how, you know, how you manage that change management and business adoption. You know, that triangle that has always been out there, people, process, and technology. Well, you have the technology with Pega, but people can be a big headache if they're not ready to change the way of working.

- Yeah so that is one of the challenges that we face today as well. If you look at it, the way we approached it, and I just mentioned it for segment of one, for example, CDH, that's the same type of change you need to do. I always say that the technology part is not always, you know, the most difficult one. I think the most difficult transition you need to make is if you're, you're looking for requirements or you know, outcomes and you wanna document those, or you wanna make sure that you're doing the right things with your business, they also need to understand what you're working with. So that is one thing. It's a shift from, you know, them just throwing some requirements at our face, we're building them, we give them a product, and then they don't like it because you didn't have a proper conversation. So things like co-production, if you're talking about development is really important. Having involvement from your end users is really important, which are all things that we're now changing to make that better. But also once you have it live, making sure that, you know, if you look at it, the adoption time for a new agent with Pega is really quick because it's guided. It is one end-to-end flow. So it's easy for them to adopt. When I worked in the call center, I was one of those seven systems, you know, you had to click around, you had to find your way. And if you've done that for years, it's hard to undo it. So you need to take the time to properly invest in that. You know, it's on giving them inspiration sessions of like what we're seeing here today on what will be the next step, but also making sure that, you know, you get the user feedback immediately. My teams are now visiting stores, they're visiting the call centers, back offices, really to be really close to our business. At the same time we look with the operational teams, how, where do we need to improve? But I wanted to bring those teams closer together because it's the input you really need to make your product a lot better. And it makes them understand as well a lot better on how to use it. We had a concept of ambassadors, which we were using in the past, I think we'll reintroduce that as well to make sure the adoption is a lot better. But it's all about making sure that people properly understand that they don't need to worry about the technology, but think on how they wanna do the customer journey and the business process as well as investing a lot in explaining to end users on how they should be using the system.

- Yeah, it's interesting that, you know, the most seasoned people who are the heroes and the experts all of a sudden are the ones that are the problem.

- Yeah problem is, it's difficult to, I wouldn't put it like that, but you know, it's true though.

- But what you're doing, you do, I think you're handling communication well because you have your CEO out there talking about, you know, these systems. And so I think if you could maybe share on how you've raised the visibility and telling that, you know, to the executive levels so they understand the change and support it.

- The biggest one is a segment of one story. I think that's still for customer service. We don't have that right now, but maybe we should. But you know, I think with organizing and bringing people together around the technology that you're using and, you know, making them motivated on, "Hey, this is actually really cool and look at what we're doing," also helps. And that goes to c-level management that you need to get involved there and get sponsorship from. It makes everything a lot easier. I know our CEO uses segment of one in his speeches from time to time. So these are things that, you know, that are really helping us. And I think that's a good way to position it within your company and make sure you get the proper sponsorship and buy-in to to become successful.

- That's great. I have some more ground we wanna cover. We might come back on one or two of those points, but now that we've kind of got a understanding of where you've been and where you are today, I'm really keen to know a couple of things. Were you in the keynote this morning? I assume you saw Alan and Curran.

- Yeah.

- I'm really curious to know just some initial reactions, your thoughts on the Pega GenAI stuff and if that's something that will make it, I know we have a slide. We're gonna talk about that.

- Yeah, we need to talk about the cycle, but it's probably gonna change now. I think there was a lot of, and I think people in the audience will, everybody who saw GenAI is all over the place. I'm really curious. It completely taps into the story that we have for customer service as well where we want to go. We want this to become a automated, as possible supporting system for our agents. And my perfect, you know, scenario is where they don't click around anymore but the system just guides them, tells 'em, "Hey, this is situation, you should be doing this," so they can focus on the relationship with the customer. That should be the idea. And I think GenAI will help us a lot on that front, making sure that you bring in that intelligence. So I'm really excited about that. I'm also curious on how exactly then it'll be implemented. So, but really excited. Second piece is also looking at how can you make the best use of your developer capacity. So the citizen development story has been there for a long time. I think for CDH we're in a good stage there for customer service, not that much. So there, I'm really excited on our end. I mean, we're really excited to see what that can bring. I was really impressed with the demo. So I'm really curious on how that will work in practice.

- One thing that caught my ear, just when you and I were talking was that, you know, the focus on wrap up time and, you know, the ability for GenAI to go through a whole transcript and just pick out that cliff notes the main points and shave a minute off of, you know, minimal typing.

- That's exactly what we're looking for. I think the wrap up one that was like, wow, we have it. Now we need to get it done right? But these things for me, were really exciting to see.

- That's great. Well, let's talk more about your roadmap 'cause you and I have talked a bit about it and maybe we could touch on some of these things that you are planning and if things shift around that, that's-

- Yeah it'll, so we are, this year, we're looking at a couple of things. We're having a bit of trouble digital messaging. We hope to sort that out and, you know, get it right on track again. Constellation is something and DXAPI is something we really want to look at and see how we can deliver value from that. It's something we did some POCs on, but now we really wanna look at, and again, their business transformation, we're talking to the digital teams to see how would you use it because they're used to building their own stuff in a EM today. So how do you combine these two and you get the best out of that. Streamline delivery. I really wanna look at how I can move towards and later on to citizen development. But for us, since when we started, we started on seven, we're now on eight seven, we need to catch up a bit because when we built it, it was a lot on, built on seven architecture. So we need to work on that as well. Delivery itself, I think right now we have still too many dependencies in our team, so we need to make sure that we can get that done, become more DevOps, enable CI/CD everywhere. So that's the kind of things we still wanna do this year. Next year I wanna look a lot at automation, making sure that we have the first version of having a proper copilot with a lot more automation within the flow so agents can, like I said, focus on conversations instead of on the system. And you know updates, and I think here we'll need to add cloud as well. I think that is something we really wanna look at, especially given the presentations of today. And then 25, I put it in development because by then I really want to have it. We need to make sure it's happening and we can only, so I only need to spend time with, you know, really good developers on things that are complex and which need that expertise and the easy stuff. Today we spend a lot of time on things like copy changes or adapting a certain flow. I want all of these things to go out. So we have a very good team. So I really want to use our talents more because for a developer doing a small copy change, it's not the biggest challenge in the world as well.

- Great, well Brecht, we intentionally did this 'cause we wanted to have an interactive session, so I think I appreciate you walking us through where you are, where you've been and where you're headed. I'd like to stop early and then just see if we can start diving into a few questions. If anybody in the audience has questions on any aspect of what we've covered today.

- I have a question.

- That's okay.

- Sure.

- During the lockdown, did your call centers have to start working remotely?

- Yeah.

- And do Pega customer service play any part in how you manage that?

- Repeat the question.

- So basically the question is, during lockdown, did the customer service agents work from home and what the role of Pega customer service was there? They were using it. So in the lockdown, I think we had the first iteration live for our base brand and they were using Pega customer service. Everybody had to work from home, obviously, but the service never stopped. We just kept on going. Yeah.

- One thing that I'll just add, if you weren't in the session earlier, I just came from another breakout session where we were talking about specific use cases for Pega GenAI for customer service, and one of them is the customer simulator. So with GenAI, you can have that be the virtual customer. So for new CSRs working from home, or if you want to test CSRs on how they handle a belligerent or a problematic customer, you can assign it a personality and it will act as the customer on the other end of the interaction. And so that's an exciting use case to be able to run, you know, CSRs any day, time of night, you know, wherever, through real life scenarios, through the workflows, making sure that they know how to handle them and score them on it. That's exciting.

- That was one of the things I was, I didn't see, but I knew it was coming. I think that's a really interesting one. Especially given the fact on how you train your people. If you can get that working, it's gonna be very powerful, I think.

- Yep. There's some more hands in the room. Yep in the back.

- Actually it me a while to do the transition processes to know a things, did you redesign processes before you and how long did that transition take to get actually, totally in?

- Yeah so the question is did we redesign the processes and how long did it take us right? Yeah the whole-

- To implement Pega.

- To implement it. So did we redesign the processes? The first thing we had to do was document them, right? So, we did not redesign the processes. So we took what was there, we did optimize some things and especially now that's, since we have it, it's going a bit faster. The program itself took us a long time. So, but just to give you insights, if you look at the deliverables of Pega, we were always ahead. It was mostly on building the integrations. We started from scratch, so we had to take, you know, a couple of years to really start from zero and do everything on the BSS layer, do all of the integrations again. So that's the part that was really difficult. The Pega part in the beginning was tricky as well because we didn't know the platform enough, but once we had the knowledge and building it, that went really fast. So I hope that answers your question. To give insights today yeah because since we have it now, like I said, every sprint we do changes. A new service case will take us one or two sprints. So it's, you know, to put it in perspective a bit. So that pace has gone up a lot. We see first question in the back.

- Which version and how long you upgraded? How long does it take?

- Which version?

- The version we are yeah, so which version are we on and how long does it take to upgrade? So we are currently on 8.7. The upgrade process in the beginning for us, we are on-prem to be clear. So was horrible. The first ones we did, I think the first one took us four months. Now we've reduced that to about half, but we're trying to optimize that constantly. And it's not the upgrade process as such, but it's also because of the whole infra we need to deal with separate environments, having them properly tested, that's the part that takes a long time. So there's the surroundings that takes us a while to do the upgrades.

- And that's a huge benefit to moving to Pega Cloud is, you know, you you get rid of some of that complexity yeah.

- You had question as well.

- [Member] Yeah my question was, during your implementation, did you guys run into any issues with the software to submit Pega tickets? And what did you learn from those problems that you had?

- Yeah, so yeah, we did, I think the thing that we learned was we struggled a bit with, you know, with the service we were getting in the beginning, but we took action immediately with our account team and that sorted things out rather quickly. The product itself, I think there, because we always try to upgrade to a minor version that, you know, gets rid of some of the problems. We did notice that if you don't do that you might run into still some early bugs and stuff like that. And since our, if you would be on cloud, that would be different. But for us, we're on prem, so installing a minor patch, a patch is okay, but if you install a minor version, that takes a while right? So that was the...

- [Member] How did you deal with business change ?

- So early on, what we did is that we involved, so we had a team of BAs, who were closely involved with the business. There was like this triangle of a LSA, an FA and MBA. We're always looking at those things. I think there we could have done better by evolving more end users, which we didn't do in the beginning or not enough, let me put it like that. With regards to business, you know, making sure to onboard within the operations we identified, you know, one of these agents who were there for a long time and we had them be involved as well in testing and making sure that the adoption of the platform was happening. Next to that, we did quite an investment in our learning and development department, creating the trainings. We did I think playback days of what we've been delivering. But since it was all in a huge program, it was also dealt with it like that. What we're doing now, we're trying to, because we're still, you know, in the works of building that up a bit, but I have one team who is constantly looking with a magnifying glass on the operations. So we have a very close link to their improvement department so we can align that which helps a lot.

- [Participant] Thank you.

- [Participant] Can I ask another question?

- Sure.

- [Participant] You got a great platform with the CDH and the customer service. I'm wondering if you've got any plans towards kind of preemptively proactive support, you know, maybe where you're picking on customer events.

- Tina? Yes, we do I think, eh? Yeah, we do. We do. I think right now what the main focus, and Tina hit me if I'm wrong. We had some, the main focus was on more commercial stuff, selling the right products. I think that evolved into a couple of use cases, a more service driven, what we've not done yet is link, like all of the network data and or we're in the works to do so. So we can go to that proactive model because I, the session before this one showed a really nice slide I think about, you know, once the interaction ends up in the call center before that you could be doing a lot of things. You could have that proactive so that's definitely our vision as well on this yeah.

- [Participant] How far are you down the path sort of looking at digital journeys sort of connected into the Asia system journeys and have you started going down that path sort of how far you have?

- So it's a bit of our dream, but we're not there yet. Today they're separated, so we build a digital flow separately from the Pega flow. If it's with regards to interaction handling, everything ends up in Pega. So that's not a thing but center out design and that's why it was on the roadmap is something we really wanna explore as well. We did integrate, sorry, for CDH we did an integration with EM. So there we are offering stuff online, but that's not end-to-end customer journey. That's just two of us.

- Is that something, just to follow up on Ken's question there, is that something that you would've done differently knowing now what you knew then when you were-

- Yes.

- Yep. Okay.

- I would've designed a lot of business processes more starting from a digital customer's perspective than from the existing business processes.

- Good question. Lights are brighter, period. Yep.

- Compare before Pega, after Pega. So what kind of significant results you saw by using Pega customer service?

- Well, it's difficult to compare on KPIs, I think. I think building it has become a lot easier. Doing changes has become a lot easier. Like I said before, we had this very waterfally CRS, which you needed to wait for a long time. Today you can do things a lot quicker. So you can do a lot of updates, a lot quicker. Hence generating more benefits within your operational teams. With regards to impact on the KPIs and aligning those, what we're doing now for every service capes and every flow, we're defining, okay, this is what our baseline CHT is, this is what we want to go to and how are we then gonna, what do we need to change to get there? So that's what's in the works now. So I hope within a year I can tell you like 30 seconds.

- All right, we got him here next year. Great questions, anymore? Yep.

- For what those were you mean or the type of... So basically the seven systems were a lot around operational tasks they needed to do. I'm talking about people having a server below their desk sometimes to, you know, have a case template to send to the back office. It was about some logistics. So sometimes an integration with regards, sorry oh, okay. An integration for example, to get a handset delivered. All of those processes actually were on separate portals. So what we did, we integrated with those systems. So we put them all, we embedded them within the service case. So for example, if you needed a technician, you didn't need to go for a separate kind of system. It's all there shown in different ways.

- Yes.

- [Participant] Question around the agent training. So do you have agent training application that you use training or is it based on video or based on documentation?

- It's a multitude of things. So there is a thing called Genius, which we use to publish changes. So that's one part of it. There was some interactive trainings as well. We did videos, it's a bit of everything, but documentation itself is not, I don't think the best way. So we tried to do a lot of more interactive approaches.

- [Participant] What feedbacks have you received from the customers in relation to how they experience your vision?

- That's a really good question. I couldn't say, to be very honest, I think the main thing that we see when you do things better results into better waiting times. So they don't have to, you know, contact you and wait in queue for a long time. Today we're in a bad situation, which by the way is not caused by Pega itself. But because of the systems below, you know, it's a bit of a transformation we're going through. But I do think that that will change and have more, you will see that a lot more if we would do center routes for example, then I think you would be able to capture a lot more customer feedback on how the process itself works. A customer just cares on getting it done, right. That's the only thing they care about. They don't care about what is your process. They're just "Get my modem fixed."

- [Participant] Have you ever seen for example, a decrease in number of complaints or active polls, things like that?

- At this point, it's because of the situation that we're in, it's difficult to measure to be very honest because the systems we came from were very complex and now it's a lot more simplified. But again, there doing those measurements and comparing them, it's not always the easiest one. This is the problem.

- [Participant] You mentioned that it got a lot easier to make changes using Pega. What is your ?

- Okay, so what we try to do is when we, we have a change coming in, we first measure it against, you know, if you look at priority, we measure it against value and we look at, okay, what is this change going to bring? Then we start, you know, with a process in which we go into conversation with our business. We try to get the outcomes and see on how we can work on that. And once we have the first design, we show it to them and then we say, okay, is this what you want? Is this what you need? And after that we do a BI check obviously, because we wanna make your reporting is there, we do a performance check, is your change gonna have impact on your performance or not? And then we develop tests and release it and obviously we validate as well with our business. Every time we have a deliverable, we ask them to validate it on top of the testing we do ourselves.

- Okay, great questions. Really, really appreciate all the questions and interaction. We've got five minutes so if there are other questions you want to ask after the session, Brecht and I will stick around for a minute or two and if there are no further questions, we thank you for coming.

- Thank you.

- Thank you.


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