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Can IBM's e-Harmony for call centers improve service?

IBM will announce a novel analytics service that matches a caller with the optimal customer service rep. Think e-Harmony for customer support.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

IBM on Thursday will announce a novel analytics service that matches a caller with the optimal customer service rep. Think e-Harmony for customer support.

It remains to be seen if Big Blue can get you hugging a customer service rep when you call to scream about something, but it's a nice start.

IBM worked with Assurant Solutions, a specialty insurance firm, to cook up the algorithms and systems used to play matchmaker with between customers and service reps. The platform, dubbed the Real-Time Analytics Matching Platform (RAMP), is designed to boost retention, sales and keep service reps from quitting.

Here's how the matchmaking works:

  • A customer calls, think grumpy old man with a history of yelling about confusing variable annuities.
  • IBM matches the call with the service rep's skills, expertise and past performance. Usually calls are matched based on product area and availability.
  • A "matching engine" designed by IBM with techniques patented by Assurant makes a decision on whether the caller and rep are a match. IBM's prediction algorithms also forecast when an agent will be available using call handle times.
  • The process takes a few seconds.

Assurant claims it has boosted retention revenue by 37 percent and sales by 29 percent in one year since the system was implemented.

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