Digging in the Weeds? Don’t Miss the Big Picture of Customer Sentiment

By: Kate Zimmerman

May 18, 2015

Sentiment Analysis
Social Engagement
social listening

Imagine that you are a restaurant owner. You just rolled out your new summer menu and you’re trying to determine how it’s doing. According to your point-of-sale system, one specific item, maybe the watermelon gazpacho soup, is selling like crazy. You’re excited and report this back to your board that the new menu is a success.

However, if you dig deeper into the data you’ll discover that the reason the gazpacho is selling so well is because your wait staff is encouraging your customers to try it. Looking even further into your online reviews, it quickly becomes obvious that your customers actually hate the gazpacho soup. So, looking only at the point-of-sale system is not giving you an accurate representation of what’s really happening, and you’re missing the boat that will give you a chance to remedy this problem.

This is where customer experience management comes to the rescue. Almost every company today is trying to listen to their customers. Many of these companies are full of very intelligent leaders that think they can make accurate assumptions based on the customer data they are already collecting and manually analyzing. But sorting through thousands of records manually can be extremely time consuming and can easily fall victim to human error.

Better alternatives exist and are in use by large brands. Most organizations find the sheer volume of customer feedback data is far too much for manual listening. Data can come from not only surveys and call centers, but also social media, email, and much more. You need a systematic approach to analyze this data and ensure that you are seeing the whole picture. Today’s customers express feelings far beyond simply liking or disliking a product. Using customer experience management software you can analyze what they like about your product, how they are using it, how they feel about the price, and how they’re comparing you to your competitors.

Gathering your data in this scientific manner also helps create actionable insight. Even if you collect the best data, it doesn’t help your brand unless you do something with it.

A great example of this is how Verizon handled their customer feedback following Hurricane Sandy. By listening to their customers, Verizon was able to quickly identify a pain point among their affected customers. The victims of Hurricane Sandy were trying to rebuild their lives—physically and literally—and sometimes all that was permanent in their lives was their cell phone. Through an analysis of their call center data, Verizon was able to determine that customers were worried about overage charges during this state of emergency. Verizon was able to quickly reach out to these customers and forgive overage charges in the wake of the disastrous hurricane.

Listening to your customers who are communicating with you is doubly important, because for every one customer that you hear from, there are likely 26 more who didn’t reach out. Scientifically approaching the data that you receive is important as a representative sample of all your customers.

This data can also help you create messaging for your target audiences. For example, a large beverage company realized that parents and educators were concerned about the potential harmful side effects of the artificial sweeteners used in their products. By pinpointing where these worries were coming from, this company was then able to target their messaging more appropriately. Additionally, they were able to take the segmented feedback and push it back to their product development team who were able to start working on alternative product choices.

When you combine all of these capabilities together, it’s easy to see why listening to the voice of the customer is critical for any marketing department. It’s also understandable why Gartner predicts that 89% of companies will be competing on the basis of customer experience by next year.

If you’re interested in learning more about customer experience and going beyond your point-of-sale system, check out Clarabridge CMO Susan Ganeshan’s podcast.

Kate Zimmerman is a Product Marketing Associate at Clarabridge. Kate focuses on building content that supports CX efforts, product marketing, analyst relations, and has become an industry expert in Customer Experience Management. Kate holds a B.A in Politics from the University of Virginia and can be found on Twitter at @kmzimm.