Call Center Routing May Soon Have Something in Common with Online Dating

While recent news about the massive data hack at Ashley Madison, an adultery-driven dating site, has brought to the surface a seamier side of relationships that originate online, traditional dating apps that aim to bring together singles based on personality matches are growing not only in popularity but also effectiveness. One in five Americans ages 25 to 34 now uses dating sites such as, and as algorithms become more intelligent, that number is likely to grow, according to a recent report from Pew Research. For companies that want to take their call center routing to the next level, the personality-driven algorithms at the heart of dating sites could hold the key.

"Part of the promise of online dating services like eHarmony and is their ability to use software analytics of personality profiles to increase the successful outcome of connecting two individuals seeking a personal connection," wrote Art Schoeller, analyst at Forrester Research, in his report on behavioral analytics. Despite consumers increasing preference for Web self-service for customer support, they still rely heavily on the call center—but for different needs.

Because customers can take care of basic service needs on their own, contact center agents now primarily face the more difficult questions. "It's no longer the simple case of consumers calling in for a bank balance, status of a flight, or to pay their utility bill. They need help with the policy for closing their account, booking a complex multicity set of flights, or an explanation of smart metering billing policies," Schoeller says. When it comes to tackling complicated customer issues, ensuring that an agent has the right skill set is crucial, but his or her personality plays a major role as well.

Skill-based routing has become a staple across call centers. Solutions from Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Genesys, LivePerson, and other vendors offer a variety of skill-based routing solutions, which pair customers with agents who have the most experience tackling a particular topic or have the skill set best-suited for a specific customer dilemma. Some of the most recent iterations of skill-based routing solutions have other capabilities as well, such as routing calls in a manner that avoids overwhelming top agents and leaving other agents to handle far fewer calls. As customer expectations continue to grow, however, the next generation of skills-based routing solutions will have to get a little more personal.

Mattersight, a contact center software provider, is one of a handful of vendors offering personality-based call routing capabilities. The company's routing solution relies on a behavioral analytics model developed by NASA for evaluating potential astronauts to send to space. It's entirely speech-based and doesn't require surveying consumers or agents to glean any information for a personality assessment. "The system looks at grammar, tone, and syntax to quantify conversational attributes that are abstract," Jason Wesbecher, chief marketing officer at Mattersight, explains. "For example, we can pinpoint distress and can determine whether a call ended on a positive or negative note in order to predict the chance of a call back. We get insight into the true health of the customer relationship."

When an existing customer calls into a contact center, Mattersight's routing technology looks up the phone number to pull up existing personality and behavioral data through a CRM system and connect that call to the best-suited agent to ensure "that the customer and the service rep click on a personal level," Wesbecher says.

For new customers that have never dialed into the contact center before, Mattersight has a plan B. "We have a database of personality and behavioral data, and more often than not, folks that are calling are in that database," Wesbecher explains.

And although personality and chemistry are central to Mattersight's solution, skill still comes first. "We match by skill, and then we look at that pool for the best personality fit," he adds.

Despite skepticism about the role that personality-based matching should play in the contact center world, Mattersight customers are seeing results. "We've seen talk time decrease by 10 percent to 15 percent and have seen customer satisfaction increase by 20 percent to 25 percent for our customers," Wesbecher says.

Analysts agree that there's potential. "[Few] vendors have specialized in developing real-time predictive analytics software to optimize contact center interactions and deliver them as a SaaS service," Schoeller wrote in the report. "Their success demonstrates that aligning agent and customer behavioral profiles can grow revenues, reduce handling time, and improve customer satisfaction."

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