Social Pulse: Redefining a Great Experience

By: Nicole Martin, MPH

May 1, 2020

Clarabridge Analytics
Clarabridge Engage
Customer Experience
Social Media

As some states begin to reopen, restaurants and retail stores will set the bar for how to create a positive experience in unprecedented times

Date of Data Pull: 4/30/2020 11:39 AM
Source: Twitter, API Connectors
Current Volume: 12,913,806
Date Range: March 12, 2020- April 30, 2020
Tweets Related to COVID-19 & Supplemental Topics Classification Models Used: WHO Framework Model, Emotions Model, & Industry Specific Models

After 9/11, America shut down. Air traffic halted across the United States, with Americans too afraid to fly. In November 2001, the United States government rolled out increased security procedures, changing the airport experience with unpopular and inconvenient measures still in place today. Baggage screening measures implemented after 9/11 has resulted in an estimated 6% reduction in flying, costing the industry $1.1 billion. [1] The United States government acted quickly and big, leading the nation’s response effort to an unprecedented event. [2] Neither airlines nor passengers had much control over the resulting impact to the customer experience.

Now, with the current COVID-19 pandemic, the United States government is taking a different approach, giving states the discretion on how and when to proceed with reopening the economy. On Monday, Georgia residents could finally return to eating out, with restaurants such as Waffle House opening its doors following 39 new protocols created by state legislation[3]. States, including Georgia and Tennessee, have provided businesses with guidelines — but no mandates—on how to operate. Businesses must individually decide how to abide by those guidelines and whether to even open. Downbeat attitudes about the economy impact consumer spending, representing over 70% of the U.S. economic growth. With businesses allowed to operate at reduced in-person capacity, companies must navigate how to create a positive customer experience while balancing uneasy economic sentiments, safety concerns, and consumer anticipation at the prospect of “getting back to normal”.

The Findings

Understanding consumer sentiment in reopened states compared to general consumer sentiment illustrates consumers’ perspectives on the pandemic and subsequent economic policies. The unprecedented economic impacts of the “stay at home” orders increased unemployment rates and dropped consumer confidence over 30 points (118.8 to 86.9)[4]. Reopened states now attempt to address safety concerns without diminishing consumer experiences. Leveraging the metrics created last week, tweets about and from Georgia were analyzed and scored by conversations about public health preparedness compared to all tweets in the project.

Figure 1: Georgia Cases & Conversations about Public Health Preparedness (On the Left) And United States Cases & Conversations about Public Health Preparedness (On the Right)

Above shows the case numbers in Georgia and percentage of conversations about Public Health Preparedness compared to US case numbers and conversations about Public Health Preparedness. Public Health Preparedness is defined as values closer to a 100% indicate public health preparedness was not discussed or people feel their public health systems are ready; values closer to 0% indicate more conversations about lack of public health preparedness. As cases rise both in Georgia and the United States, conversations about Georgia focus on reopening compared to general conversations focused on the lack of public health system readiness.

Georgia’s case numbers rose on Tuesday April 28 , a day after announcing restaurants reopening. In the graph above, general conversations about lack of public health preparedness continue to dominate as cases increase across the United States. Unlike general conversations, conversations related to Georgia show show less tweets about lack of public health preparedness compared to the general population. A large portion of tweets about Georgia involve excitement, concern, and curiosity about the opening of restaurants and retail business.

With that curiosity and change in Georgia, business owners struggle to balance not only consumer concerns, but profitability of reopening their business as the “guinea pigs.” Restaurants choosing to open now become the model of a post-pandemic customer experience.

Winning consumer loyalty in a restaurant is similar to any other customer experience: engaging and loyal service, repeatable high-quality food, and a welcoming environment[5]. Regulations outlined by open states require lower capacity and socially distant seating, restructuring the familiar environment restaurant goers expect. Seating preference contributes to increased customer loyalty (65%), so small changes — such as a preferred table no longer being available at the local diner due to distancing regulations —will shape consumer expectations[6].

Figure 2: Conversations about Restaurants by Emotional Intensity in the Last 7 Days

Figure Two: Conversations about restaurants over the past 7 day by emotional intensity. A majority of conversations show medium to high emotional intensity with conversations focusing on reopening and how restaurants will follow protocols.


Above shows how strongly consumers feel when discussing restaurants and their re-openings on Twitter. Conversations with emotional intensity showcase the charged and contradicting opinions among future spenders. Consumer comments, such as those expressing excitement for increased space, show opportunities for creative marketing. For example, companies can market the intimacy and benefits of reduced service rather than explaining their adherence to rules and restrictions. Understanding where consumers’ find positive sentiment and focusing on those area to re-frame conversations can go a long way in setting a positive tone as we adapt to change in the coming weeks.

As the first week of re-opening comes to a close, businesses balance the reality of rising case numbers against consumer trust. Unlike prior crisis events, such as 9/11, where the United States government took the lead, businesses are now the leaders in determining how post COVID customer experiences will occur. Looking closely at the restaurant industry, social media conversations showcase an opportunity to cater to consumer needs in creative and positive ways while easing concerns about safety. As time progresses, corporations will ultimately determine the long-term customer experience and how long protocols and policies stay in place to address public concern. Keeping a pulse on where consumers stand assists companies as they lead the charge in how the world looks post COVID-19 and how long the policies stay in play.


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What’s Next

While some states expand and begin to open, other states like Virginia continue to remain closed through early June. Next week, I will begin to assess how unopened states react to the policies in opened states. Together, we will begin to monitor opened businesses and the strategies they use to influence and calm consumer attitudes and how they create personalized customer experiences.


Other Articles in This Series:
Social Pulse: Readiness to Return
Published April 24, 2020

Social Pulse: Empathy Through Action
Published April 17, 2020

Social Pulse: An Opportunity to Create Trust with Consumers
Published April 9, 2020

Social Pulse: A Craving for Understanding
Published April 2, 2020

Social Pulse: The Way We See COVID-19 Relate to CX & the Globe
Published March 26, 2020

Social Pulse: How is the World Reacting to the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Published March 20, 2020

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Nicole Martin is currently a consultant at Clarabridge. Prior to Clarabridge, Nicole received her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from The George Washington University. During her time at GW, Nicole wrote her graduate paper on sexuality, sexual behavior, and mental health. In addition, Nicole taught as a Graduate Assistant for the Biostatistics Department at The George Washington University. During her time at Clarabridge, Nicole has worked with healthcare accounts to enrich their analytic capabilities, created customer journey maps for property and casualty insurance companies, and continued to support innovation for clients across various industry verticals.



1.] Logan, G. (2018, April 24). The Effects of 9/11 on the Airline Industry. USA Today.

2.] Blalock, G., Kadiyali, V., & Simon, D. H. (2007). The Impact of Post‐9/11 Airport Security Measures on the Demand for Air Travel. The Journal of Law and Economics, 50(4), 731–755.

3.] Bluestein, G., & Figueras, L. (2020, April 27). Kemp releases standards for restaurants to resume dine-in service. ajc.

4.] Confidence Board. (2020, April 28). Consumer Confidence Index®: The Conference Board. Consumer Confidence Index® | The Conference Board.

5.] Reichheld, A., & Page, O. (2020, April 24). Serving up a great restaurant customer experience strategy: Deloitte US. Deloitte United States.

6.] Terenzio, O. (2018, August 28). Hospitality, Reviews & Repeat Guests: Why Personalized Experiences Matter. Open for Business.

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About The Social Pulse Series

Clarabridge has embarked on an independent research project to actively analyze the “emotional pulse” of social media users worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort’s main goal is to assess how people are feeling using Clarabridge’s Natural Language Understanding to glean insights from millions of unstructured data records. We hope to inform the public, provide insights to the scientific community and educate Clarabridge customers. The analyses in this series leverages Twitter data collected beginning March 12th using keywords such as “coronavirus,” “covid19”, and “covid-19” from Twitter. We continue to refine data collection and models as the situation evolves.

Clarabridge COVID-19 Command Center 

Questions about Coronavirus? Check out the following:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
Directory of Local Health Departments