Insurance Technology Featured Article

Customer-Agent Matchmaking Arrives in the Call Center

April 09, 2010

Would your opinion of dialing into a call center change if you were matched with a "personalized" customer service representative (CSR (News - Alert)) selected specifically for you? What if you knew you would always be connected with the same professional who was familiar with you and your account?

This capability may soon be available in a call center near you thanks to technology from IBM and insurance management solutions provider Assurant Solutions. This new service, the Real-Time Analytics Matching Platform (RAMP), uses advanced analytics to match a caller with the optimal CSR in real-time. With this solution in place, call centers can increase customer retention and sales yields, while also decreasing agent attrition.

For decades, call centers have based their routing methods on a skills-based system that only takes into consideration the agent's product focus and availability. While such processes appear to move things along within the call center at an organized pace, it can actually frustrate the caller and the agent when an optimal match is not made to address the customer's request.

RAMP relies on techniques invented and patented by Assurant to combine data about individual customers with each contact center agent's specific skills, expertise and past performance. IBM (News - Alert) Global Business Services consultants then designed a "matching-engine" to leverage this combination of customer insight, agent profiles and real-time analytics. The result is an "individual-level" decisioning and assignment of calls not available in most contact center applications.

'Assurant Solutions has been using an analytics-based routing approach to increase call center profitability and enhance the customer experience in its call centers for more than seven years, increasing retention revenue by 37 percent and sales revenue by 29 percent within the first year of implementation,' said Mike Politz, an Assurant Solutions vice president, in a statement. 'This collaboration with IBM has taken this application to the next level with RAMP and proven that the power of combining customer insight with business processes can lead to smarter decisions and improved performance.'

Within seconds of calling the call center, RAMP is activated and uses data generated from previous call center interactions to identify acceptable wait times for individual customers. RAMP then factors in agent performance and qualifications to select the best agent. If he or she is not available, RAMP will use a prediction algorithm to determine availability based on the length of the current call and historical call handle times.

Available today through IBM Global Business Services' Business Analytics and Optimization (BAO) service line, RAMP leverages IBM's deep expertise in analytics and customer insight technologies and joins a growing portfolio of BAO assets focused on helping clients better make better decisions.

'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, Vice President, Business Analytics and Optimization Services, IBM Global Business Services.

'RAMP represents the next generation of analytical solutions, combining customer information and insight to transform and optimize important business functions. RAMP enables our clients to enhance customer satisfaction, reduce attrition, increase revenue, and improve contact center productivity resulting in better overall company performance.'

In other IBM news, earlier this week the company announced that its POWER7-based 750 Express and Power 755 models are the first four-processor systems in the industry to qualify for Energy Star status.

Dassault Systèmes has announced the completion of the transaction for IBM PLM's sales and client support operations. This transaction is valued at $600 million and includes customer contracts and related assets.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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