The last time you called a corporate hotline with a complaint, did the agent seem like someone you’d like to have a beer with? Companies are now using social media data – from sites like LinkedIn and Facebook – to match you to a call center agent that you’re likely to find enchanting.
The Wall Street Journal reports that businesses like the casino company Caesars and wireless giant Sprint are using new matchmaker technology to deliver an improved customer service experience. This technology matches phone numbers to social-media-compiled data. Each phone number is then pre-matched to a call center agent, so incoming calls will go to the best man or woman for the job.
The idea is that data from thousands of call records can predict which agent can best assist certain types of customers. For example, if a particular agent proves himself better-than-average at serving middle-class men who frequently eat at restaurants, the system will direct these middle-class male callers to this particular agent. If a particular agent really seems to work well with women in their twenties who are starting out in the marketing industry, the system will forward these ladies’ calls to this particular agent.
But how do these corporate call centers know so much about their callers? The caller profiles come from data firms like Afiniti Holdings. These firms use social media and other sources to create data profiles for their artificial intelligence software. According to the Wall Street Journal, Afiniti’s other sources include business and credit profiles as well as social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
This artificial intelligence software is now used by dozens of corporations in more than 150 call centers. It pairs data profiles with cellphone and landline phone numbers to determine which call center agent is the best person to talk to each individual caller. According to Afiniti, this method will result in increasingly satisfied customers and increased company sales.
Of course, in terms of social media, data-mining companies like Afiniti can only pull the data that users actually post on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Still, the limited data that appears there offers corporations important hints about a caller’s location, career status, and general interests. This basic data is then combined with shopping history and credit records purchased from third-party brokers. From there, an impressive caller profile is born.
Using this data to boost customer satisfaction might mean increased sales for major corporations. On the flip side, it can also lead to an increasingly pleasant experience for the callers themselves. So, what’s the problem? Privacy concerns are being raised – about whether callers should be able to opt in or out of such databases, for example. Perhaps some consumers would rather remain anonymous.