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LAUREN EVERHART: Can you start us off with a brief background of your role at Mattersight?
DAVID GUSTAFSON: I’m responsible for marketing and product management at Mattersight and have been with the company since the initial evolution of our product, which was roughly nine years ago. I’ve held a number of roles during that time and have been involved in many aspects of building out our Behavioral Analytics solution and business model.
What trends have had the biggest impact on your customers?
For a long time, contact centers were very focused on cost cutting and the bottom line. They were interested in providing a positive experience for their customers, and leaders spoke of customer satisfaction as being extremely important, but when it came to spending money and focusing on providing exemplary service, they wanted to do to it with minimal cost impact to the organization.
That perspective is changing. The focus is shifting to customer satisfaction, and things like Net Promoter Scores® (NPS®) and customer effort scores are becoming increasingly important. Data now shows the significance of providing excellent customer experience to the financial impact on the business as a whole. That has really changed the way our customers think about service and how they operate their contact centers.
How are today’s leaders rising to the challenge to drive additional business and deliver a better customer experience?
They’re using analytics and other forms of data. For a long time, there wasn’t much data on how to effectively handle customer service interactions or to quantify the impact those interactions had on the overall customer experience. But technology has evolved in such a way that we’re now able to understand what’s occurring in those interactions. There are many new touch points that customers can use to interact with a company—the Web, social media, mobile applications, chat, text messaging, etc.—and with all of those touch points comes a wealth of new data and insight about customers. Companies that are capitalizing on these new insights are the ones embracing an analytics-based view of their customer service. They’re using data to identify where they need to focus to provide a better experience for their customers and to track the impact on the business as a whole.
Those companies are also focused on some of the softer skills within customer service. These skills have less to do with transactional metrics, such as how long the call was and if they followed processes, than the level of empathy provided, what sort of personal connection was created, and how positive that experience was overall. These human connection aspects are unique to our Behavioral Analytics solution. The ability to measure and analyze its impact has become much more important to businesses.
Can you talk briefly about your Predictive Behavioral Routing solution?
Our Predictive Behavioral Routing solution uses analytics to automatically connect the customer with the call center rep who will provide the best interaction and service. To do this, Mattersight has analyzed over a billion interactions, and we have millions of algorithms that decode human language - every second - and turn that into new, contextually accurate data attributes. We’ve created new data attributes for each interaction - behavioral characteristics like empathy and engagement as well as personality and communication styles, psychological needs, and the general state of mind of customers. When they call into a company, we already know a lot about what they want from customer service and how they want to interact. Through the data we’ve gathered, we can connect the caller with the best available agent to handle that individual caller’s needs, communication style and personality. Companies that have deployed Predictive Behavioral Routing are seeing an immediate 10 to 50 percent improvement in their target metric - customer satisfaction, cost reduction, or increased sales, for example - just by making better connections with their customers.
Tell us more about how the contact center can benefit by paying closer attention to behavior and personality.
Predictive Behavioral Routing facilitates a better natural connection point that impacts customer experience. If you let the data automatically create a better connection between caller and employee, you don’t have to change your processes within your contact center or the skill sets of your employees to improve the customer experience. You’re simply leveraging the inherent strengths and psychological make-up of each employee to serve the customer in the best way possible.
Call centers are also placing much more of a focus on training and coaching specific behavioral skills. Being able to identify areas in which a call center agent needs improvement and focusing on improving those characteristics is much more effective than looking at the macro-level metrics such as talk time or call-back rate.
If corporations were to utilize this model, what would that mean with regard to talent development in onboarding strategies, hiring and engagement?
There’s generally a high turnover rate in call centers, so talent acquisition is an increasingly important function in these organizations. Using algorithms, analytics and other data to identify how to hire the best employees and effectively manage them will make that function much more efficient. In fact, we are working with some companies involved in the hiring space to do exactly that.
It’s also important to point out that when you create a better experience for the customer, you’re creating a better experience for your employees as well. If an employee talks to a customer with whom they have a connection, it makes the employee’s job experience more enjoyable, which in turn reduces agent attrition.
How easy is Predictive Behavioral Routing integration into a corporation’s contact center infrastructure, and what are some of the key improvements this brings to customer care?
Predictive Behavioral Routing is very easy to install because it leverages the business’s existing routing architecture. Through a very passive connection, we feed our data about the customer on the phone and the best agent to interact with them into the client’s architecture so that they can route it appropriately. We buy, install and maintain all of the technology and processes to do this. The cost for the solution is a monthly user fee, and our customers get $3 to $10 back in tangible business benefits for every dollar they spend for our service, including reduced costs and call-back rates, improved customer satisfaction rates, and increased sales. Our very first customer to deploy this solution immediately saw their talk time drop by 29 percent, and the overall financial impact dropped 13 percent. It created a better experience for everybody and had a huge impact on the business side as well.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m obviously biased, given my background and the focus of our company, but I think it’s so important for people in the customer service environment to really understand the impact of personality and human behavior in operating a service center or otherwise engaging with customers. The analytics we’ve gathered show that it’s one of the highest correlating factors in whether the interaction is successful or not. Before Behavioral Analytics, it was hard to quantify personality and human behavior in a tangible and actionable way, so many people don’t know how to improve these things and therefore don’t spend a lot of time on them. It’s now not only possible, but it’s easy and has a very short time to value. It really is “low-hanging fruit.” It’s given us a chance to revolutionize the way people think about providing positive interactions with their customers. So, whether it’s with Mattersight or through internal initiatives, I hope that businesses start taking into account their customers’ personalities, communication styles and states of mind to connect with them better.
David R. Gustafson is the vice president of marketing and product management, reporting to Kelly Conway, president and chief executive officer of Mattersight Corporation. In this role, Mr. Gustafson has responsibility for marketing, product management and sales support.
Since joining Mattersight in 2000, Mr. Gustafson has held a number of positions, including vice president of business delivery, where he was responsible for the deployment and support of Mattersight’s solutions. Before joining Mattersight, Mr. Gustafson worked as a financial analyst at ABN AMRO North America in the office of the CFO.
Mr. Gustafson holds a B.A. in economics, mathematics and computer science from Colby College.
Lauren Everhart is a director at Argyle Executive Forum. In this role, Lauren manages and leads client experience and client service delivery for Argyle’s content and event partners. She also manages the content development, editorial speaker recruitment and execution of a number of Argyle’s annual business events. Lauren has been with Argyle Executive Forum since 2008. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Albany and a J.D. from New York Law School.