Cognitive Systems Have the Power to Improve Technical Support

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By: Kendra Gullette |

The term “call center” often doesn’t elicit much more than stress. When I mention my background in the customer relationship management industry, I hear mostly negative stories of the service they’ve received. Under the circumstances, can a call center powered by cognitive computing improve its image?

If you have had a bad experience on the phone getting technical support, you know what I’m talking about. This is a common and expensive issue; 270 billion customer service calls are handled annually, with roughly 50 percent unresolved. Sixty-one percent of those calls could have been resolved with better access to information. It’s no surprise that Forrester’s Customer Experience Index revealed only 37 percent of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores, while 64 percent received a rating of “OK,” “poor” or “very poor” from their customers.

Cognitive computing is a major technological shift that can have a great outcome on today’s call center. But what is it? Companies like IBM, developer of technologies like Watson, use cognitive computing to recognize natural language, connect patterns or continuously learn from the data it is mining. These systems provide major advantages and are now replacing the traditional knowledge systems of the past.

IBM’s Technical support agents have been using a cognitive solution that has reduced the time it takes for an agent to provide problem determination by up to 37 percent. Here’s how cognitive might work with technical support:

  • A call comes into a technical support agent with a customer who is describing an issue.
  • The agent performs problem determination using natural language recognition.
  • The question is analyzed by connecting patterns and previous learning to identify recommended solutions.
  • The cognitive system returns ranked results to the agent.
  • The agent implements the action plan provided by the cognitive system.

Why is cognitive computing considered the best solution? As previously mentioned, the agent can type a query in natural language and the system will understand that “error2665,” “Error 2665″ and Error_2665” all mean the same thing — thus returning the same result. In addition, these systems can query unstructured data, like text posted on the internet as a source. Once they understand the issue, it will return the best result.

Cognitive systems are improving the customer experience by improving the accuracy of results, which means shorter wait times for customers and higher quality technical support. For the call center, cognitive systems lower the costs, improves the customer’s satisfaction statistics and result in more satisfied customers. Best of all, cognitive systems can learn. Thus, they have the ability to identify patterns and make connections to improve support results over time.

Cognitive systems are having a positive impact on:

  • Reducing average handle time (AHT), shortening the customer’s time on the phone for support.
  • Decreasing parts usage.
  • Increasing client satisfaction (CSAT).
  • Reducing time to resolution and downtime.
  • Increasing first time fix/first call resolution (FCR).
  • Reducing onsite service calls.

Is your technical support cognitive?

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About The Author

Kendra Gullette

Global MTSS-MVS Offering Deployment Leader, IBM

Kendra Gullette is a CRM professional with a strong background in creating solutions for various industries and geographies. As a graduate of distinction from IBM's Global Sales School, her focus is always on the client and how to create the best solution with the right message for every deal. In her current role, she helps set the strategy and direction for the Technical Support Services service line. Additionally, she manages training, special events, knowledge repositories, RFP response repositories, best practices, solution standards and sales material development.

Articles by Kendra Gullette
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