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IBM Plays Customer Service Matchmaker With Call Center Offering

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Posted March 18, 2010 By Larry Barrett     Feedback

Big Blue teams up with Assurant Solutions to develop algorithms that pair center service representatives best suited to address specific customers and issues.

IBM wants to personalize the customer call center process with the debut of a new service that aims to match a customer with the service representative who has the most knowledge of the particular service issue or product the customer is calling in about.

Using a Real-Time Analytics Matching Platform (RAMP) co-developed by IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Assurant (NYSE: AIZ), the goal is improve efficiency, increase customer and service representative retention and grow sales.

"We're seeing an increasing opportunity to use available customer information and analytics to find new levels of customer insight to improve performance," said Michael Schroeck of IBM's global business services group. "RAMP enables our clients to enhance customer satisfaction, reduce attrition, increase revenue and improve contact-center productivity resulting in better overall company performance."

Call center software developers have invested a lot of time in money in recent years to improve the overall experience and interaction between service reps and customers, recognizing that this experience can often make the difference between building long-term relationships with consumers or losing them altogether to competitors.

In practice, IBM's matching engine takes a couple seconds to decide whether a specific caller and representative are a match. This determination is usually made based on the rep's particular product expertise and past performance handling similar calls. Availability is obviously another factor.

IBM's prediction algorithms also forecast when an agent will be available using call handle times. IBM said that the system has helped other businesses improve retention sales by 37 percent and total sales by 29 percent within a year.

Company officials said the system offers flexible configuration options and is optimized to run on IBM software and hardware platforms.

The analytics-based decision engine assigns the caller to the optimal agent and then routes the call in real-time to that representative. The engine also tracks each call assignment and makes necessary adjustments if an agent's call ends before or after its predicted time.

Assurant, which is also rolling out similar systems to the financial services, telecom and cable TV industries, is deploying RAMP on a Power6 system using DB2 and WebSphere software manage the data sets and analytics tools.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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