What if you knew the optimal way to talk to a prospect or customer?

Not based on intuition… but on data.

Cogito Corporation, a real-time behavioral analytics company, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding to help do just that.

Based on research from the MIT Media Lab that has been validated through a partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Cogito analyzes the human voice and visually guides customer service representatives to improve their communication style.

How does it work?

Cogito chief executive Joshua Feast said, “The company provides a measurement system that shows how well conversations are going in real time, as they’re happening. For each conversation, what is the degree of rapport? Is this a high quality customer experience?”

It also provides reps specific alerts so they can make changes on the fly. For example, if the agent is speaking too quickly it may suggest she slow down; or if the agent is too tense, it might suggest he relax.

The analysis is primarily for the customer service rep, rather than the customer.

Cogito dialog alert view

Above: Cogito dialog alert view

“The biggest point is to help the reps improve,” said Feast. “But if a customer is getting upset, that can also trigger an alert.”

Feast said that the level of confidence in recommendations is upwards of 85 percent.

Krishna Gupta, chief executive and founder of Romulus Capital, said that reps are currently measured on hard metrics, like average call time, but that soft metrics, like empathy, are very difficult to measure. That is a challenge for customers, support reps, and support organizations.

Asked whether some customers might find it creepy that their voice was being analyzed and used to guide the conversation, Feast said you have to be mindful of providing better experience.

In this case, he said, “We’re providing a win-win-win.”

It’s clearly great for consumers, because we’re helping provide them better experiences. It’s also good for the rep because it allows them to be valued for their soft skills. And it’s better for organization because it helps them provide better customer experience.

Customer insight is an important element of Cogito’s value. Many companies try to uncover customer experience or net promoter score (NPS) with post-call surveys, which only a small fraction of people respond to. Having access to real-time customer sentiment from all calls offers much broader insight than companies have had before.

The funding round was led by Romulus Capital and includes participation from Salesforce Ventures. The funds will be used to expand its sales, marketing, and customer success teams.