IBM introduces Watson to the customer service sector

After first sending Watson to college and then having it take on cancer, IBM now wants Watson to look into the role of a customer service representative...

IBM is literally taking its super computer places. After first sending it to college and then having it take on cancer, the company now wants Watson to look into the role of a customer service representative.

The supercomputer, which rose to fame in 2011, after its famous appearance in the game show “Jeopardy!” will now answer questions related to servicing. According to Forbes, IBM has proposed that it will lend out the supercomputer to various companies like Australia’s ANZ Bank, Nielsen, Celcom, IHS, and Royal Bank of Canada by providing them with an interesting tool called “Ask Watson”.

Test companie through this tool will be able have an interactive Watson, that they can get in tough with via various avenues including Web chats, email, smartphone apps and even SMS. Additional customisation to the service include voice recognition options by using software like Siri or Nuance.

IBM introduces Watson to the customer service sector

Watson will now answer customer services questions...


While most of the test companies will come up with their own versions, interface and branding for the service, sources say that the initial stage for many companies will be limited to internal employees only. However there will be companies which will bring the service to the general public as well.

This maybe the first time that the public will have access to a service which allows them to interact with Watson directly. According to IBM, the first Watson-powered consumer apps will be seen in the later half of this year.

While the client servicing sector is not the most popular sector to get into, it is still a space which sees a lot of time and money invested. According to IBM, out of the 135 billion unresolved calls that take place, two-thirds could have been resolved if there was better access to information at the time.

The sheer volume shows the scope which Watson has to make a difference. As each company tests out Watson, the supercomputer will constantly be fed huge quantities of data gathered from catalogues, training manuals, product disclosures, terms and conditions, emails, customer forums, call centre logs, as well as publicly available feeds and reviews from Amazon, Yelp, Trip Advisor and technical support communities.

In IBM’s internal tests, Watson scored a 4 per cent reduction in the amount of time it took to search for information. According to Manoj Saxena, General Manager of IBM Watson Solutions, “Watson pulls up stuff that an agent wouldn’t because it is looking for semantic links, not just doing text-matching based on keywords.”

In the long run, IBM seems to want Watson to be able to answer questions for a variety of services, ranging from banking to travel, as well as personalising basic customer questions that any consumer may have. The worry though is that the system has still not been tested with a broader consumer audience. IBM though, seems confident in Watson's ability to provide users with answers beyond simple search terms.

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