For decades, call centers have answered requests based simply on the order they were received: First in, first served.A startup called Afiniti International Holdings Ltd. is trying to change that. Its artificial intelligence software, which has been installed in more than 150 call centers by dozens of companies, examines as many as 100 databases tied to landline and cellphone numbers to determine the best agent to answer each individual caller. Such matching can result in more satisfied customers and more sales, the company says.Afiniti’s technology not only pulls callers’ histories for a business and credit profile, but seeks insights into their behavior by scouring their public Facebook and Twitter posts as well as LinkedIn pages. In the case of a sales operation, a caller is matched with the agent who—based on the agent’s own call history—has been able to close deals with customers with similar characteristics.“It’s a little overwhelming, sometimes scary, to know how much information can be accumulated about you,” said Larry Babbio, an Afiniti board member and former Verizon Communications Inc. executive. But, he added, the trade-off is a better consumer experience.
When someone dials into a call center, Afiniti’s system searches as many as 100 databases linked to that person’s phone number, including Experian, Facebook and LinkedIn. Afiniti also looks at census archives for the area the person is calling from, as well as the customer’s purchase history and contact frequency with the company. Afiniti tracks how each agent performs with callers with particular characteristics, and tries to match agents with callers similar to people they’ve had success with in the past.
Afiniti wants to take its technology from the call center to the retail world. It is working on facial-recognition software to identify customers when they walk into a store so the system can send the best agent over to talk with them.
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