Appliance Call Center: A Successful Mixed-Initiative Case Study
Customer service is defined as the ability of a company to afford the service requestor with the expressed need. Due to the increasing importance of service offerings as a revenue source and increasing competition among service providers, it is important for companies to optimize both the customer experience as well as the associated cost of providing the service. For more complex interactions with higher value, mixed-initiative systems provide an avenue that gives a good balance between the two goals. This article describes a mixed-initiative system that was created to improve customer support for problems customers encountered with their appliances. The tool helped call takers solve customers' problems by suggesting questions aiding the diagnosis of these problems. The mixed-initiative system improved the correctness of the diagnostic process, the speed of the process, and user satisfaction. The tool has been in use since 1999 and has provided more than $50 million in financial benefits by increasing the percentage of questions that could be answered without sending a field service technician to the customers' homes. Another mixed-initiative tool, for answering e-mail from customers, was created in 2000.
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