Understanding personality types to enhance the customer experience

We all have a general understanding personality types differ from person to person whether they be a customer, your colleague, a friend or even your partner.  But have you ever stopped to think how you could harness that power to improve the customer experience?

Shana Lebowitz on Business Insider gives us some insight into ‘Mattersight’, a technology that combines personality science and automation to make customer service more efficient.

A major shift is underway for the assurance that our call centre staff are providing high-quality service to every customer, and a key player in this shift is Mattersight. This company is harnessing the science of personality to help call centres improve their performance by delivering individualised service to every single caller.

One of the services Mattersight offer is called ‘routing’. When you dial into a call centre that uses this product, you’re automatically transferred to an agent who can best satisfy your needs based on their past performance and personal strengths. As soon as you start speaking, your tone, tempo, keywords, grammar, and syntax are all fed into an algorithm that determines which agent would be best suited to handle your issue.

For example, someone who initiates the conversation with “Help me understand” as opposed to “I have a problem”, will be directed to different people.

Another product on offer with Mattersight is performance coaching. When we consider performance coaching in the call centre industry, we know it involves a coach and a team member. We know it consists of a problem and a solution, and education on the part of the coach. Mattersight take this a step further, training managers at different call centres, who in turn train their employees, to pick up on clues to a customer’s personality and tailor the conversation to suit that customer’s particular communication style. Mattersight educates leaders on the notion that it’s not just a matter of who’s more polite – it’s a question of how people articulate their needs and prefer to receive information.

Mattersight aren’t reinventing the wheel however. They’re capitalising on existing theories that have not yet been put to the test. Until now. They in fact base their products on a theory of personality called the Process Communication Model. The model was developed by Taibi Kahler, Ph.D., and has been used for decades to select astronauts at NASA. According to this theory, everyone has six personality types within them: thoughts, emotions, opinions, reactions, actions, and reflections.

“Thoughts” people are logical and organised; they’re looking for efficient and accurate service.

“Emotions” people are looking for a personal connection.

“Opinions” people seek respect and recognition for their loyalty to the company.

“Reactions” people are creative and want the service to be an easy process.

“Actions” people like to bend the rules and want to know what you will do for them.

“Reflections” people seek solitude and prefer impersonal service.

What differentiates the PCM from other personality models is the idea that, even though you’ve got a dominant style, you’re also able to access all the personality types depending on the situation and the people you’re interacting with.

Mattersight feels that, by combining personality science with automation, it’s revolutionising customer service. Chief Marketing Officer Jason Wesbecher says “for years calls were indeed recorded, but only about 1% were actually listened to and analysed. Mattersight’s goal is to look at that other 99%”.

The result of Mattersight’s intervention is typically twofold: Customers are happier because their needs get satisfied more efficiently, and agents are happier because their calls go much more smoothly. Both employee and customer satisfaction increases.


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