Text Analytics Drives Customer Insight

By uniting intelligence from customer surveys and social media with conventional business intelligence, companies are moving beyond transactions to understand customer behavior.
Detecting Customer Sentiment

Demand for text analytics has raised the profile of specialized vendors such as Attensity, Clarabridge and Overtone for doing trended and basic root-cause analysis of why customers are commenting as they are. SAS, IBM's SPSS, SAP (Inxight) and Tibco (Insightful) are prominent vendors offering tools for analyzing text for predictive insights.

One application of text analytics currently getting a lot of attention is "sentiment analysis," which lets organizations discover positive and negative comment patterns in social media, customer reviews and other sources. Lexicons, word extraction, pattern matching, and other tools and approaches are used to develop the knowledge. As practiced at JetBlue, Choice Hotels and Gaylord Hotels, and Rosetta Stone, organizations may also apply these techniques to customer satisfaction surveys to analyze trends in what satisfies or dissatisfies customers.

Sentiment analysis can give organizations a view into hidden factors that may be having a big impact on customer loyalty and churn. The analysis also helps them determine what steps to take to both satisfy customers and reduce expenses by alleviating the need to interact with the contact center. Lexalytics, Nstein and Teragram (a division of SAS) are vendors that have text mining specialization for sentiment analysis.

To address contact center needs, some vendors are looking at sentiments expressed in other ways. Verint Systems, for example, offers applications that analyze recorded calls for changes in customers' voice volume or the frequency with which they use certain words and phrases; the knowledge helps organizations detect, through words, what issues are currently important or, alternatively, have dropped off the radar. Some organizations are even employing sophisticated presentation tools to visualize the customer experience, using heat maps and other graphics to understand the importance of factors such as voice volume and seriousness of tone.

Without text analytics, organizations would have to employ armies of clerks to sift through large volumes of customer comments in surveys. Gaylord Hotels, for example, contracted a third-party service firm to handle that task, but it took the firm eight weeks to report aggregated results. Using Clarabridge software, Gaylord now obtains verbatim results and trend information overnight, so it can immediately address service problems and make "rescue" calls or e-mail contact with disaffected customers.

Text analytics can also yield insight from valuable sources that would otherwise go untapped…

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David Stodder is an independent analyst, writer and researcher focused on innovative uses of information to achieve business objectives. Along with heading up his own firm, Perceptive Information Strategies, he is a Research Fellow with Ventana Research.