March 26, 2009
By Allan Maurer
ORLANDO, FL—One of the pioneers of overseas tech support call centers has founded a new Orlando-based company called Datanautix that may be able to help bring some of those jobs back to the United States. Serial entrepreneur Sanjay Patel, founder and president of Datanautix, says its technology can save up 30 percent of call center costs by increasing efficiency, while boosting customer satisfaction by up to 10 percent.
The company’s product examines support center calls from a “customer centric” point of view, Patel says. “We developed a methodology for measuring critical aspects of those customer interactions.”
The company’s toolkit breaks a call out into 60 to 80 different dimensions based on what happened when in the call. That way a client can “Tell when the customer experience started going south instead of upward.” Focusing on the customer is what differentiates the company from others, Patel says. “That’s our core competency.”
How can you tell when a call is going south? “It can be pretty obvious,” notes Patel. “The customer says it or checks out.” Even if the customer doesn’t hang up, he may check out mentally and his voice loses inflection. “He may or may not be irate enough to hang up, but he’s mentally checked out. A lot of what we do is based on psychology.”
Other signs are a customer asking the agent to repeat themselves,
or saying ‘I don’t understand.’
It’s also important to match a customer’s transactional style, Patel says. Some customers enjoy being conversational, while others don’t want to talk about the weather or what kind of day they’re having, they just want to solve their problem. “Mismatched styles result in customer satisfaction being 5-10 percent lower,” he says.
Patel says often call centers rate their transactions on how quickly
agents turnover calls, but he points out, “No one wants that call to go more quickly than the customer.”
“We identify ways to drive call volume down,” says Patel. “There are calls that shouldn’t come in at all—they should be answered automatically. One Australian firm was able to drive costs down by 10-15 percent by placing a number for automatic call help in a more prominent place on its bill. “People couldn’t see it and they achieved the reduction just by fixing that,” he explains.
The secret: answer a customer as quickly, completely and accurately
as possible. Otherwise, they’ll be calling back. “We find many cases where a call could have been resolved and wasn’t,” says Patel.
Patel founded Datanautix in 2005 after selling his previous company,
VC-backed iBackOffice in June 2003. That company, housed in the Central
Florida Technology Incubator as is Datanautix, ran one of the first
overseas call centers in Bangalore, India. It provided support for
the wireless data industry.
Patel says he learned a great deal from running that company. “When India started its call center industry, it attracted some of the best talent in the country, people with strong analytical skills,” he notes. “We realized they were doing some innovative things that if adopted here could drive a significant amount of cost containment and efficiency. That was the seed idea for Datanautix.
The company received a $99,981 a National Science Foundation Small
Business Innovation Research grant to study ways to help businesses
better serve their customers. Patel says it is already cash flow
positive and profitable and not currently looking for money.
“We’ll probably look for money in 18 to 24 months,” says Patel, “although we’re not sure if we’ll go the venture capital route or seek a strategic investor.
“My last company came out of the gate with VC funding,” he says. “That
was a learning experience for me. I hadn’t raised venture capital
before. After we sold the company, I was talking with a VC friend
who said, ‘Sanjay, venture capital is like rocket fuel. Once it ignites,
you better be pointed in exactly the direction you want to go."
So, this time, he says, “I’m making sure I have the flexibility to make course corrections in reaction to the market.”
The industry Patel helped create, outsourced call centers overseas,
can save companies about 30 percent to 40 percent in labor costs,
he says. But cultural differences can make customers unhappy with
the resulting support services and in today’s climate in particular, some people would prefer not to do business with companies shipping jobs overseas.
The Datanautix technology can save companies up to 30 percent by
increasing their support call efficiency and increasing customer
satisfaction by up to 10 percent, Patel says, encouraging firms to
keep those jobs in the States.
Patel says that while there are a number of firms doing the type
of analytics Datanautix does, demand for such services continue to
increase. “We’re in an intriguing space right now,” he says. “Because of the downturn, the need to drive customer loyalty is higher.”