IBM signs multibillion-dollar deal with Sprint

In a deal valued in the billions of dollars, Sprint has signed a deal with IBM Business Consulting Services to revamp its...

Sprint has signed a deal with IBM Business Consulting Services to revamp its customer care service.  

IBM will redesign key aspects of Sprint customer care, offering both consulting and a complete overhaul of its customer care infrastructure.

The initial agreement will run for five years, and Sprint officials estimate a $550m reduction in costs over the first three years. Reductions are expected from improved call routing, reduction in average call handling time, higher rates of first call resolution and better self-service tools.

AMR Research analyst Dana Stiffler said Sprint was willing to turn over what amounts to the core of its business, interactions with its customers, because of poor ratings in customer satisfaction surveys.

"The consensus is that Sprint's customer service record has not been that stellar," she said.

Stiffler added that the scope of the engagement is very large and that there are few companies other than IBM that could pull it off.

"In some ways Accenture or Cap Gemini Ernst & Young can pull off similar deals, but IBM has the entire product stack. In terms of the technology reach, the others can't compete."

IBM will create a unique customer care desktop that integrates Sprint's 17 different customer care applications into a single application, according to Dean Douglas, vice-president of IBM Global Services.

IBM will use what it calls On Demand Customer Interaction Centre technology, which is both a product and IP (intellectual property) that allows for integration of the IVR (interactive voice response) system, call management, call routing and call resolution into a single platform.

Once integrated, the system can automate the escalation of a customer call from self-service up through a skills-based routing system, which will reach customer care agents with higher levels of technical expertise when needed.

To integrate customer care with Sprint's other business units, IBM will also place its employees in its marketing, billing and IT units.

Ephraim Schwartz writes for InfoWorld

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