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Understanding customers' needs is key to driving supply-chain efficiencies and enhanced customer experiences

A deep understanding of customers’ wants and needs are key to driving supply-chain efficiencies and enhanced customer experiences. An intelligent call center solution equips customer care representatives (CSRs) with deep insights in a natural language-based conversation interface to solve complex customer queries.

On a typical day, a CSR opens multiple tabs/applications to address a single query, spending an enormous amount of time on a customer call, thereby impacting the customer experience. This is especially detrimental during peak business hours, when it is important to resolve issues quickly since there is typically a backlog of waiting calls. Wouldn’t it impress the customer if the CSR proactively asked, “Are you calling about the accessories that you bought yesterday?”, along with a warning that the order may be delayed. Informing the customer and providing a discount voucher or a different added benefit results in a much happier customer.

The heart of this improved customer experience is the IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Assistant With Watson™, which infuses conversational AI capabilities into the IBM Sterling Call Center and enables intelligent orchestration of customer transactions across back-end record systems. It also surfaces recommendations and best next steps based to enable quick and easy decision-making for the CSRs. The Sterling Supply Chain Business Assistant With Watson appears as a pop-up over the IBM Sterling Call Center application and can be embedded into any other application. Sample insights are shown below.


The above screenshot is the order summary screen in the Sterling Call Center application, where the intelligent assistant understands the customer context and surfaces relevant order-related insights. Customer Abandonment is the score to understand if the customer is likely to churn. The Projected Life Time Value is the projected revenue incurred by a similar customer over the customer’s lifetime. Based on these two insights, the CSR is better equipped to give relevant appeasements and/or suggest additional products to influence the customer.

One important insight that could help the business to avoid high product returns is the Item Return Risk/Return Propensity score that identifies the probability of a specific purchased item being returned by the customer. Shopper Affinity is the likelihood of the customer to shop again. The CSR can quickly understand the customer’s stickiness to a particular brand and help in up-sell opportunities.


Return Rate, Average Order Value, and Previous Annual Spend are the analytical insights calculated based on the customer order history. All these insights aid in providing relevant recommendations for the CSR to take the next best action. In the above scenario, Suggest Promo code is appropriate since the customer Life Time Value is high, churn is low, return rate is low, and affinity is high. The CSR is prompted to retain the customer and influence more sales using a coupon or promotion.

Now let’s look at how a call center executive can use simple natural-language commands to execute customer transactions across back-end systems. A cancel-order transaction would involve canceling the order from back-end order management, updating the ERP and other systems of record. Sterling Supply Chain Business Assistant With Watson can enable seamless orchestration of these transactions using one-click actions or natural language commands, making all this a breeze for CSRs.


With this solution, businesses can:

  • Improve customer understanding and increase customer satisfaction
  • Drive customer-centric supply-chain process optimization to increase revenue and minimize costs
  • Reduce overall call time to increase CSR productivity

This solution is not limited to call center executives but is also useful to store associates and other customer-facing business users to provide optimal customer experiences.

Learn more

Get more information about it and other intelligent call center capabilities for developers at IBM Developer.