New real-time software based on AI and machine learning data helps customer service and marketers come across as more ‘human’.

From telemarketing calls to customer service reps, having to deal with human phone support has become a cultural meme on its own. With the popular ban on telemarketers through the National Do Not Call Registry and the ever-famous Capital One commercials featuring “Peggy” from customer service, having to deal with the person on the other end of the line is both hilarious and no laughing matter.

New real-time software based on AI and machine learning data helps customer service and marketers come across as more human

Socially Sensitive AI Software Coaches Call-Centre Workers

Now, a new real-time software based on AI and machine learning data helps customer service and marketers come across as more “human,” gauging everything from their rate of speech to their enunciation to the listener’s comprehension. It then offers suggestions on their computer screens, telling them to slow down, speak more clearly, or even to stop interrupting.

Boston-based Cogito has been working on software that can detect mood and mental state based on how someone speaks for quite some time, and has now flipped the tables on that capability by adding in recommendations. These recommendations help the caller provide a more satisfactory experience by helping him adjust to the listener’s mood, but there are some inherent problems with the tool.

Chief among the obstacles is taking into account cultural differences across the country, and across different demographics of listeners. Failing to call an older person “sir” might ruffle a few feathers in the southern United States, but at the same time, if the listener is younger than the caller, then he may be put off by the caller referring to him as “sir” instead of the other way around. It would be interesting to find out if the computer could pop up with a warning: “Stop calling him ‘sir,’ apparently he hates that.”

Still, Technology Review senior editor Will Knight sees the benefits, especially to businesses and their bottom lines. “Some companies say Cogito has helped improve the performance of their call center staff. The health-care company Humana developed a tool for call center staff using Cogito’s technology and saw a 28 percent improvement in a commonly used measure of customer satisfaction.”

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