Cogito Executive Interview
Joshua Feast, CEO and Co- founder, Cogito
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Sheri Greenhaus, Managing Partner of CrmXchange discussed
Cogito with Joshua Feast, CEO and Co- founder at Cogito, which offers a
real-time guidance system for call centers. Joshua highlights three key
elements of their solution: real-time feedback, guidance on conversation
content and nonverbal behavior, and the combination of customer and employee
experience. He emphasizes the importance of human augmentation and the ability
of their system to provide personalized coaching plans. Cogito's unique
features include their large-scale, low-latency capabilities, emotion and
conversation AI integration, and a passionate, impact-driven team.
Sheri: I'd like to start with an overview of your
Joshua: What we created was a real-time guidance system.
This system listens to conversations, especially voice conversations,
understands them in real-time, and guides the agents as they speak.
Sheri: It's interesting that many companies I've spoken with
at the conference focus on coaching and training.
Joshua: That's right, absolutely. We believe we pioneered
this area which has now advanced from its early stages. Let me highlight three
key elements of our solution and provide some interesting history. Firstly, the
real-time aspect is crucial. The system needs to work quickly, with low
latency, providing immediate feedback. It's like a lane departure warning in
your car. If it comes 10 seconds later, it's not useful. So, our system
computes at high speeds and offers quick feedback.
Secondly, our system guides both the "how" and
"what" of a conversation, including nonverbal behaviors. People
assess whether they're well-served based on how they're spoken to. Agents can
get tired and may unintentionally seem disengaged. By providing feedback on
what to say and how they're coming across, we achieve better outcomes.
Lastly, we strongly believe that great efficiency comes from
combining customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX).
We have several novel capabilities. We were recognized at
the CCW awards last night for measuring both customer and agent perspectives.
If a customer has a poor experience, the agent may not be as available for the
next customer. These are important factors to consider.
Sheri: If the experience is not good, what do you do for the
agent on the next call?
Joshua: While the agent is on a call, our AI listens to the
conversation and looks for opportunities to give a nudge.
Sheri: Does the nudge come in the form of a visual cue?
Joshua: Yes, on the agent's screen, they will see a slide
notification with an icon and a brief message. For example, it may suggest
taking a break if they're speaking too much. It could also indicate speaking
too fast or not providing a required statement. Or it might highlight an
opportunity to offer additional products or services based on a positive
customer experience and specific phrases used. These real-time guidance cues
augment human performance.
Sheri: So, does it start with logic and then add AI? Can AI
detect when a customer is getting bored without a script? How does it work?
Joshua: Our system utilizes techniques including compute
engines with nodes that analyze and interpret conversations. It combines
rules-based approaches, deep learning models, and large language models. We use
the right tools for the job, whether it's rule-based logic or AI-powered
analysis. AI can determine if a compliance statement hasn't been read, but it's
always possible for the agent to override the system. Humans are in the loop,
ensuring a seamless experience.
Sheri: So, there's always a human involved?
Joshua: Yes, our approach is human augmentation. While our
tools save time and improve efficiency, we aim to assist people. We help them
transition to higher-level work and create an environment that fosters agent
Sheri: In our CrmXchange webinars, we keep chat open for
audience interaction. We've been told that agents often leave when they're
bored or don't have a clear path. How does your system address this?
Joshua: Our system has helped customers save time, allowing
agents to have an extra hour for personal development. It provides positive
engagement. AI feedback can be more preferable, as it avoids relationship
biases and favoritism. Having a coach assist in every interaction motivates agents.
Supervisors can quickly jump into calls and recognize outstanding moments.
Sheri: If you have 1,000 agents with some doing poorly,
others doing well, how does the system handle performance assessment and
Joshua: Our system focuses on coaching rather than
assessment. Customers with sophisticated approaches use the system's
personalized coaching plans. AI analyzes behaviors compared to best practices
or team norms, recommending areas for improvement. Supervisors can save time by
modifying the suggested plans. They can prioritize strategic needs or corporate
objectives over individual development. Flexibility is key.
Sheri: Is coaching an ongoing process, or do you only
intervene when there's a corporate need?
Joshua: Our customers tend to focus on different types of
behaviors over time. They create groups of agents based on tenure or line of
business and customize coaching plans accordingly. Tenure doesn't imply no
improvement opportunities. Our system allows for ongoing development and
Sheri: Can the guidance become white noise for agents with
Joshua: Our system is designed to be unobtrusive, picked up
by agents' peripheral vision. Even experienced agents can benefit from
reminders and nudges. If an agent becomes low-energy or forgets to be
empathetic, AI can nudge them. For example, if there's extended silence while
they're looking up information, the system can remind them to speak.
Sheri: What sets Cogito apart from other companies in your
Joshua: One key distinction is our focus on real-time
capabilities from the start. We've proven our ability to operate at massive
scale without latency issues. Additionally, we combine emotion and conversation
AI, helping agents build emotional connections with customers. Our
collaboration with the MIT Human Dynamics Lab has enhanced our expertise in
this area. Cogito received funding from DARPA, among other investors, to
develop an artificial intelligence platform and behavioral models to interpret
human communication and detect psychological states automatically. Cogito’s behavior
analytics was deployed within population health and care management programs at
premier health and insurance companies. Thousands of interactions were
analyzed, generating millions of data points to further enhance the
effectiveness of Cogito’s behavioral models.
Sheri: So, you differentiate with large-scale, low-latency
capabilities and expertise in emotion and conversation AI?
Joshua: Exactly. We have successfully deployed our system with
some of the largest brands in various industries like telecom, technology,
insurance, healthcare, and hospitality.
Sheri: Is there anything else about Cogito that our audience
Joshua: Our customers value our team, culture, and
impact-driven approach. We are research-oriented, and our team deeply cares
about customer success and data-driven results. We prioritize service and
flexibility over rigid software. Our origin stems from a need to manage complex
human-machine systems differently. We believe our tools enable organizations to
manage in a more effective and human-centric way.
Sheri: Would you say your focus on helping veterans and
emotional understanding has shaped your organizational culture?
Joshua: Absolutely. Our origins lie in addressing the
burnout and challenges faced by large human services organizations. We realized
the need for a different management approach. We are passionate about creating
tools that empower both agents and organizations. Our culture revolves around
caring deeply and constantly improving based on customer needs and feedback.
Sheri: Did you personally design the system?
Joshua: I co-founded the company with my CTO. Our journey
started with research at MIT, exploring how computers can interpret human
behavior and psychological states. We have a science-driven approach, but our
passion and commitment have evolved the company over the past decade. We focus
on proving the effectiveness of real-time guidance and human-centric
Sheri: It's impressive to see how your company has grown and
adapted. Your unique perspective and commitment to human-centric solutions set
Joshua: Thank you. We're driven by a genuine desire to make
a positive impact and provide organizations with the tools they need to succeed.
Our customers appreciate our collaborative approach and the passion we bring to