Feast: Watch your tone


February 9, 2016

Customer service calls can be frustrating for consumers and agents alike. But MIT spinout Cogito believes it can use behavioral analytics to make those experiences less onerous. Cogito has developed voice-analytics software for call centers — refined through years of research that focused on human behavior — that tracks, in real-time, voice patterns of customers and agents, and offers feedback to make the conversations more productive. By doing so, Cogito also aims to make millions of call center workers happier and more productive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 5 million of 146 million workers in the U.S. are employed in call centers. That’s roughly one out of every 25 Americans.

Cogito recently secured funding in November to develop technology for customer-service applications. The company also continues its history of using the technology to monitor mental health. In December, Cogito partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to detect signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in returning soldiers. For this and other mental-health applications, the company created a mobile app to passively monitor smartphone sensors to detect behavioral information from voice recordings and texting, while prompting participants to fill out surveys about their mental health. Analyzing this data can reveal behavioral patterns, such as withdrawal or lethargy, that assessed indicated a user’s mental health. If symptoms are detected, “we will develop feedback mechanisms so that organizations, that care for [these] populations, and individuals and care teams that care for [these] populations can get ahead of risks,” says co-founder and CEO Joshua Feast, MBA ’07. Read more

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