In a recent New York Times article titled “Software That Monitors Your Work, Wherever You Are“, Damon Darlin profiles the technology and business model of LiveOps, a start-up based in Santa Clara, California. LiveOps is in the call center business – without having a central call center. Instead, they employ 20,000 home-based agents, who work as independent consultants for the company. Sound different? Well, it doesn’t end there. The “brains” behind the service is software – what Darlin terms the “real middle manager”.
Maynard Webb, CEO of LiveOps, explains how the software works:
The software moves a company beyond simple cost-cutting. Mr. Webb says greater efficiencies can be found because the company’s software measures the results from each agent according to criteria determined by the client. If a client wants agents to persuade callers to buy additional products, the software tracks that — and then directs calls to the agents who do it best. Those agents prosper.
In the virtual events I’ve participated in, I’ve seen a wide variety of exhibitor personas. The most effective exhibitors were the true subject matter experts – they have a wealth of information to share with prospects, potential partners and even competitors. And they’re the rock stars of their virtual booth – highly in-demand and running a mile a minute trying to handle the influx of private and group chat requests.
What makes them rock stars is not just their expertise – it’s really their expertise combined with their desire to network, assist and collaborate. They not only respond quickly to private chat questions, but they’re proactively commenting in group chats. On the other extreme, I’ve seen the “don’t call one me” persona – analogous to the right fielder on the softball team who hopes the ball is not hit his way. These exhibitors bring a limited scope of knowledge, combined with little desire to interact.
Perhaps virtual event platforms should adopt the LiveOps model – route the inquiries and chat requests to those exhibitors who are most likely to achieve the desired outcome. Here’s how it might work:
- Build rating and request functions into the chat application – without some explicit indication from the attendee (booth visitor), the only way to know if the exhibitor (booth rep) was effective is to use natural language processing to interpret the content of the chat (which, indeed, would be a neat feature!). Instead, build actions into the chat function, as dictated by the exhibitor. One action might be “rate this chat session” or “rate this booth rep” – the data would be used to determine the worthiness of the rep for subsequent chats. Another action might be “request more product information” – whereby clicks would increase the effectiveness rating of the booth rep.
- Define metrics to rate booth rep effectiveness – examples may include “mean time to answer a private chat request”, “mean time to a ‘request more info’ click” (where shorter times might be considered better) or “mean rating score”. Of course, for booth reps who receive neither ratings nor requests for more info, perhaps the absence of action works against them.
- Distinguish the highest rated booth reps – just like department stores and supermarkets have the “Employee of the Month” parking spot or picture – virtual event standouts should be recognized as well. Allow the highest rated booth reps to have a specially desigated avatar image (or logo) indicating that they provide excellent service.
Let me know what you think – would such a rating system help improve interactions between virtual event booth visitors and booth reps?