Geek of the Week

Geek of the Week: Say hiya to Erin Murphy of Marchex, whose calling is analyzing enterprise calls

Erin Murphy, an analytics manager at Marchex in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Erin Murphy)

Erin Murphy still uses her phone to make actual phone calls.

In an age of texting and social media and every other conceivable way to not say “hello” with your actual voice, Murphy is a bit of a novelty. But credit her job as an analytics manager with the Marchex Institute, a team on analysts inside Marchex, the company that, in Murphy’s words, “helps businesses understand who called and why they called, and helps businesses turn more of these callers into customers.”

“Like most people, I use my cell phone for everything,” said Murphy, GeekWire’s newest Geek of the Week. “I’m not using it to call my friends every day, that’s definitely what text is for, but I hate spending 15 minutes on a terrible website (especially a mobile one) and not being able to find the answer to my question. It’s more efficient for me to just click-to-call and talk to a live agent in certain cases — like making an appointment to get my oil changed, scheduling a doctors visit, or checking to see if a product is in stock. It may be the engineer in me, but I’m all about efficiency and saving time.”

Murphy grew up in Illinois and found a passion for math and science at an early age. Her father was a professor who would let the kids “help” prep experiments and play in the lab. Her love for chemistry led Murphy to the University of Illinois where she studied chemical engineering.

“While I started my career as a field engineer working on oil rigs, my passion for data and numbers has taken a different turn,” Murphy said. “From helping build and optimize search engine marketing campaigns, to my current role leading the Marchex Institute, my data geek passion has turned into a career path I’m super excited about.”

Murphy said her team does ad hoc studies and works on projects that are of interest to Marchex clients or industries as a whole.

“Often these studies are about ways businesses can improve their bottom line or how they can improve the overall experience of their customers.”

Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, Erin Murphy:

What do you do, and why do you do it? I provide analyses of Marchex data to our customers and various stakeholders within the company. Basically, I try to find impactful or interesting trends that are occurring on phone calls. These studies can be things that our customers can use to help improve the customer experience, increase sales, or just fun questions that we want to investigate. I love that there’s so much diversity in the studies I get to perform. I get to solve a different puzzle every day, and work on fun data projects like our recent America’s Speech Trends report, travel trends analysis, or industry benchmark reports.

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? A lot of people think that because millennials are using their phones to call less often, phone calls are less important. But that’s not what we have seen. From the studies that we’ve done, typically millennials and Gen-Z just want to do everything as quickly as possible. People in general believe that making a phone call and talking to an expert will help them resolve their issue quicker. If they know what they want and can’t easily find it on the website, you’re getting a phone call — and as a business, you better be prepared to make the most of that phone call. With today’s “need it now” mentality, people are not going to be patient with long hold times or having to go through extensive phone trees. The fact that we’re not calling as often makes the phone call that much more important. It means more when it goes wrong.

Where do you find your inspiration? Because I get to work on so many different types of studies, it’s easy to find inspiration in lots of places. Everything from just curiosity about human behavior, to seeing the problems that various businesses have — those are what draw me in.

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? My phone is the piece of technology I use the most, because it can be used for everything; talking to people around the world in any way you choose, doing crosswords, ordering food, looking up things, reading blogs. I barely remember life before it.

A panoramic image shows Erin Murphy’s Marchex workspace and view in downtown Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Erin Murphy)

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? We have half cubes, which makes it easy to tune out the world and truly focus on a project, but also allows for easy collaboration with my teammates. I have a couple monitors and a couple computers so I can run queries and processing data with analysis software — all while being able to undock my laptop for meetings. I also have a couple of white boards to help communicate across the team about design studies and visualizing data.

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) Make lists, add calendar reminders, and Inbox Zero. I also turn off notifications for everything so that I can focus without getting distracted by shiny things.

Mac, Windows or Linux? Mac

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? Darth Vader. What you meant to ask was Darth Vader, Luke, or Leia, right?

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? I wish I could say Cloak of Invisibility, because Gryffindor for life, but I think that a transporter would be way more useful. Traffic? No, thank you.

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … If this doesn’t already exist, it should. A company that brings adoptable dogs to workplaces to help people destress and be more productive and get adorable pups adopted quicker.

I once waited in line for … I’m really not interested in waiting in lines, but I did wait in line for an earlier model of the iPhone and then didn’t even get one!

Your role models: Non-famous people, people who work hard, make mistakes and own them, and strive to be better every day.

Greatest game in history: I cannot play it at all, but I just don’t get tired of watching “Overwatch” ever.

Best gadget ever: The iPhone.

First computer: Macintosh SE.

Current phone: iPhone 6s.

Favorite app: Snapchat. It’s just so fun and is so much more interactive than most other apps. And I might be biased, but my other half works for SnapChat, so naturally I’m a big supporter.

Favorite cause: Animal rescues. I’ve volunteered for various dog related rescues since I was in college and still make sure to walk and train the dogs at the local shelter at least once a week.

Most important technology of 2018: Cloud based AI. Now that it’s becoming so much more easily accessible, it’s going to impact even more areas of our lives.:

Most important technology of 2020: Computerized medicine of some kind. AI that can analyze results quicker, make better predictions, or find correlations that were previously unknown.

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: Work on things you’re interested in. Chances are that if you’re interested in it, you will find something that will make an impact for someone else.

Website: Marchex blog

LinkedIn: Erin Murphy

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