A 2002 definition of Customer Service explains it is “a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.” A Google image search for “customer service” returns pictures of people (mostly women) with headsets and huge smiles. Everyone over the age of 35 loves knowing they can call and speak to one of these people to get their issues resolved. The newer generations are going online first for their customer services needs. To gen Y and millennials, their phones are web browsers and text message devices that occasionally receive phone calls. Calling customer service is often not the first thought. Facebook, Twitter, forums and other sites are used to vent and find answers. Many times, customers seek insight from other customers.
Companies of all sizes need to pay attention to the web even if they don’t have a presence of their own. The web is important because of a fundamental issue with the images of call center staff wearing their headsets. Those people are receiving calls and rarely make calls. Information is flowing from customers (both happy and upset ones) straight to the web. Customer service has to shift to a proactive activity. Sentiment analysis lets you do this in an actionable way.
What Sentiment Analysis Isn’t
There are a number of tools on the market that will alert you if your brand or company is mentioned. You can do this for free with Twitter searches and Google alerts. Many people save searches for keywords such as “(my brand) sucks” or “I hate (my brand)”. While this may help you intercept some important issues as they happen it does not provide statistically significant, business-centric, actionable insight. These tools are useful and we recommend them but for us, sentiment analysis is something greater.
Sentiment Analysis Done Right
A valuable sentiment analysis report happens each quarter. This provides insight into how your sentiment has shifted over time and how your marketing department is helping to move the conversation. All conversation about your brand (or competition or executives) is segmented into positive, neutral or negative. Each segment is further delineated by topic. For example a recent ecommerce client only had 7% negative conversation but over 60% of that was about their shipping rates.
What You Can’t See Is Just As Important
An important section of the report highlights what we didn’t find. You may have expectations for this report and assume we’ll find certain conversations. Missing items are just as valuable as the ones we find. New products, services, staff or awards may be found but perhaps the conversation is all neutral or worse, negative. What if they are missing completely? Tracking what we did not find becomes a key part of our recommended next actions.
It Must Be Actionable
If the report is not actionable it is just information. Each report we produce outlines a detailed plan of attack to help you shift and grow the conversation. Piecemeal insight is helpful but taken quarterly we have access to the overall sentiment and how to fix it if necessary.