IBM builds the power of cognitive analytics into Support as a Service

By: Juhi McClelland

Customer support is one of the most challenging functions to handle at scale. Companies must find a balance between higher customer satisfaction expectations and managing cost of support, which becomes more difficult as they enter new markets or new businesses.

IBM has launched a multi-vendor support platform to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and systems integrators cope with these challenges by giving them an entirely new set of capabilities.

Through IBM’s Support as a Service global technology support platform, we can manage your remote technical support to your customers, along with on-site support and parts and logistics capabilities, so you can focus on your business.

Support as a Service uses IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence, which makes smart recommendations by understanding and analyzing large volumes of complex technical information, enabling extraction of fast and accurate insights to make quality, cost and client experience improvements. Its natural language capability makes support more responsive and accurate, thus driving efficiency into the support process.

The newly enhanced support offering also gives our clients a more granular way of using third-party support. OEMs have had to buy support services as a complete, integrated solution. They could not separate different aspects of support to buy only the ones they needed. Now, our Support as a Service platform gives customers a flexible set of options to fit their unique needs.

Remote technical support

To do this, IBM has broken its support options into four separate modules. The first, launched in April, is the Remote Technical Support module. This module provides live first and second-level support on a 24/7 basis.

IBM brings extra efficiency to the remote technical support service with a range of additional features. Many OEMs struggle to manage level 0 support, which is the phase where customers provide information about their problem. Gathering this manually on the phone can be time-consuming, expensive and error-prone. The Remote Technical Support module solves this problem using integrated electronic submission forms that clients can integrate into their websites. These forms automate the level 0 process and ensure agents get the information they need when the live session begins.

Remote Technical Support also integrates cognitive and analytics capabilities using Watson Agent Assist and Watson Client Assist Lite. These features analyze the information provided by the customer, giving helpful pointers to guide support agents’ questions and help them troubleshoot quickly and accurately. This capability, unique to IBM, delivers a 95 percent first-call fixed rate, beating the industry average.

Optional extras in the Remote Technical Support will include Watson Virtual Agent, an entirely automated chatbot-based system that can help improve your client experience by addressing commonly asked fundamental questions.

Chart a new direction with IBM Blockchain technology

In addition to IBM’s cognitive analytics, IBM offers a new Support as a Service capability, powered by IBM Blockchain, for businesses who want to digitally reinvent themselves and springboard to an entirely new direction. Blockchain is a shared distributed ledger that creates a tamper-resistant and shared record of transactions that can power and enable trusted and audit-ready Support as a Service.

On a blockchain, data and transactions can be shared in near-real time and continuously across a scalable group of individuals and institutions, who are part of the same blockchain partnership network. Every event or transaction is time-stamped and becomes part of a long chain or tamper-resistant record. On permissioned blockchains, security and privacy can be maintained by agreement about which parties can view and contribute which transactions — and where desired — by cryptographically masking the identity of the party. Trust can be embedded into blockchain transactions, using consensus and endorsement of transactions. Blockchain, when combined with automation process, can be a disruptive innovation, creating new market opportunities for clients. For instance, blockchain can disrupt on how we do services and parts supply chain, drastically reducing disputes due to human errors and eliminating unnecessary third-party bureaucracy.

IBM is embedding blockchain capability into our support service, producing transparent and audit-ready data and transactions while monitoring service-level agreement (SLA) metrics, as well as streamlining and automating the billing processes. Blockchain will become an essential resource for clients to evaluate SLA performance, reduce the complexity of billing processes and eliminate unrealizable billing costs, either due to lack of evidence or due to over delivery of services.

Just the beginning

The Remote Technical Support module is the first phase in IBM’s Support as a Service rollout. The other modules cover on-site support and parts/logistics capabilities, along with other value-added services.

When deployed, the on-site module will offer hardware repair packages with a standard in office hours or 24/7 options. Augmented reality and weather alerting will also be embedded as standard into the service. It will also feature a range of options for response times and commitments to fix. The parts and logistics module will offer clients the chance to buy and sell parts on consignment in a simplified manner. They can also benefit from IBM’s world-class repair center, featuring diagnostics, testing, and repairs for software and hardware both in and out of warranty.

Thanks to our modularization of the Support as a Service platform, we can also deploy a range of value-added services underpinning all these other modules. These include the provision of credit and electronic payment processing, life cycle maintenance support and business analytics.

Our cognitive analytics technology can also to provide social media monitoring for customer sentiment. This technology can harvest and understand mentions of your products on various social media platforms, providing valuable insights into the issues customers are facing.

As we roll out additional capabilities during the coming months, OEM and systems integrators will be able to take their support operations to new heights. They can drive up customer loyalty while driving down the time and effort that they must spend on servicing clients.

Ready to learn more about how IBM is helping OEMs and system integration partners with comprehensive, next-generation support? Talk with us today.

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About The Author

Juhi McClelland

General Manager, Technology Support Services – North America

As General Manager of IBM’s Technology Support Services (TSS) business in North America, Juhi leads a multi-billion dollar P&L directly teams across Sales, Delivery, Offerings and Business Operations. She spends much of her time with clients building strategic partnerships to deliver compelling support solutions. She’s passionate about enabling technologies like Predictive Maintenance, Cognitive Support, Augmented... Read more