Conversational Services

How Toyota Financial Services uses cognitive solutions to provide personalized service to millions of customers

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As a leading auto finance company, how do you give millions of customers the personalized service they deserve and keep them coming back for more? If you’re Toyota Financial Services (TFS), you turn to cognitive computing.

“We’ve put Watson Explorer in the hands of our call center agents to equip them with a 360-degree view of the information they need,” says Farouk Ferchichi, Chief Data Officer and Head of Business Intelligence at TFS. The result, he says, is top-notch, personalized service and high customer loyalty

Big Customer Base, Big Challenges

Toyota Financial Services is a $100-billion finance company that offers auto loans and leases along with payment protection and insurance products to some four million consumers and dealers. The company’s mission is to help all those customers drive the cars they want at prices they can afford, while providing an outstanding level of service.

TFS was looking to create truly exceptional service experiences for consumers, while attracting new customers and increasing loyalty—no small feat with a base in the millions. Ferchichi and his team knew that leveraging customer data was a way to get there, especially the unstructured data TFS customers were generating every day—emails, text documents, online reviews and social media posts.

Unfortunately, traditional enterprise information management tools can’t parse unstructured data. “That’s when we started looking at things like Watson Explorer,” he says.

Real-Time Access to Powerful Insights

Unstructured data analytics was only part of what TFS needed. Any solution that Ferchichi’s team selected had to be easy for customer service agents as well as company managers and analysts to use—otherwise it wouldn’t be worth the investment. They needed a solution that allowed knowledge workers — even ones without technical expertise — to be able to access the right data, at the right time, to help solve customer issues faster.

One major challenge was that their existing systems weren’t all connected. For example, analysts attempting to define important key performance indicators (KPIs) and key risk indicators (KRIs) had to rely on specially developed software to extract and display data from different sources. And detail beyond what was displayed required extra searching across those sources.

“Historically when they get a question about a certain KPI or KRI that is displayed on the dashboard,” says Ferchici, “they have to go to many places to figure out what it means.”

Call center agents also had a hard time answering customer inquiries quickly, often having to put them on hold for many minutes while they dug through volumes of customer data. For example, says Ferchichi, “They had to take away time from the customer interaction to call a supervisor, a peer or someone at headquarters.” That was precious time lost, both for agents and customers.

The solution to each of these issues was IBM’s Watson Explorer, which could provide access to structured as well as unstructured data from conventional databases quickly and easily, highlighting the most relevant and critical insights, patterns and answers. “The product stood out immediately because of its ability to crawl anything and anywhere with the right security and access,” says Ferchichi.

360-Degree Customer and Product Views in Just Seconds

Now, equipped with Watson Explorer, TFS call center agents and analysts alike get instant access to the information and insights they need to consistently provide an outstanding customer experience.

Watson Explorer sifts through petabytes of structured and unstructured customer data, including emails and documents in file shares, reviews, social media content and more, returning insights to call center agents, managers and analysts in mere seconds. Patterns and trends sifted from structured data and unstructured content alike appear on a comprehensive yet intuitive dashboard.

And Watson does so more affordably than TFS’ old solution. “Watson Explorer is a gateway for us to analyze all kinds of data without the expensive process of data management,” says Ferchichi. Now, agents and analysts don’t have to rely on developers and database specialists to get the information they need. It’s all right there on their dashboards, on a need-to-know basis coincident with their job description.

“Having a 360-degree, personalized and secure view of information saves our agents a tremendous amount of time,” says Ferchichi. “I’ve been doing data management for almost 20 years, and I haven’t encountered a tool that can do that.” As it is, his team has only just begun to realize the full benefits. “I feel like the possibilities are limitless.”

Big Data, Big Benefits

As a result of deploying Watson, TFS call center agents can see information about any one of the company’s more than four million customers in mere seconds. With access to content and data from both internal and public sources, call center agents now have far greater insight into the preferences and concerns of the customers with whom they interact. They can also glean those insights much faster. And every second shaved off a call adds up to millions of dollars in savings over the years.

Moreover, because Watson provides information based on the level of access that an agent has been granted, employees see only what they need to know to do their work. This not only helps agents find the information that they need even faster—they don’t have to manually sort through information that is not relevant to them—but also improves data security.

Cognitive Computing is Powering Multiple Industries Already

These kinds of benefits brought by Watson are not exclusive to auto finance. They can apply to any industry where customer service is an important driver of business, including banking, insurance, retail, telecommunications, healthcare, government and more.

Find out how Watson Explorer can help your business provide outstanding customer experiences with our webinar series.


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