Clarabridge is a well-known text analytics vendor that markets its products under the banner of customer experience management. As I wrote last year, its products allow organizations to take a closed-loop approach by capturing all forms of text data, analyzing it, categorizing it, understanding root causes of customer issues and raising alerts so that action including collaboration can be taken based on these insights. Such a process is supportive of customer experience management, but for me the missing link is using these insights in real time to actively influence customer interactions.
Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Speech Analytics, Clarabridge, Mobile apps, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics, Unified Communications
Clarabridge is an established vendor of text analytics products, which it sells both directly to the market and indirectly through an extensive set of partnerships with companies such as MicroStrategy, IBM Cognos and Verint. Recently it has been marketing its applications under the category of customer experience management (CEM). To me, CEM is about personalizing and influencing the customer experience while an interaction is in progress. Organizations cannot do this without the right information about the customer, and text analytics is one of the primary tools that allows organizations to derive that information; in this way Clarabridge fits in CEM.
Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Clarabridge, Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management
In March U.S.-based text analytics vendor Clarabridge opened an office in the U.K. and recently celebrated it at the British Library in London. Sid Banerjee, the company’s founder and CEO, brought over key members of his team along with representatives of three U.S. clients. He explained that the new office would enable the company to support international clients better and allow expansion into European countries. The three clients then gave detailed presentations on how they use the Clarabridge product to understand their customers better and to use the insights gained to improve business performance.
All had similar messages. They felt forced to support more channels of communication with their customers, especially social media. As a result they were generating much greater volumes of text-based data – email, forms, surveys and social media interactions – but weren’t using it to generate insights apart from through some highly manual processes that provided very limited results. They had automated the analysis process using Clarabridge tools, and all three said the insights they gained far exceeded their expectations, especially as they could tie together insights gained from both structured and unstructured data.
All three, to one degree or another, were advocates of net performer scores (NPS) and said that analyzing free-form text from their surveys enabled them not only to produce the NPS scores but understand better what was driving customers to score them in the ways they were, both positive and negative. The customers said they used these insights to drive improvements across the business. In effect this confirmed my conclusion that the real value of analysis and metrics lies in taking action driven by that analysis. These actions should take the form of improvements in products, processes (especially those related to activities that cross business units), and most importantly the performance of people, either to focus training or to motivate individuals.
Alongside all these positive messages, there is one note of caution or perhaps better described as a learning experience. Each company had bought the product for its own reasons and with its own goals in mind. But again they echoed a message I have heard from other users of text analytics (and speech analytics as well), which is that a company won’t really understand the full benefit of this technology until trying it. This is best illustrated by an example I often use. Many users start by “defining” what they consider to be a complaint, which many do by trying to spot words, phrases and sentiments that they believe customers use when complaining. The first few trials might indeed spot some complaints, but many users I have spoken to discover that the language customers use is not quite what they expected. It is therefore important to have tools that allow users to “look at” the content of their initial complaints and further refine their definitions until they are not only picking out true complaints but can drill down into different classes and types of complaints – for example by product, call center agent, channel of communication or IVR script – and also the severity of complaint – minor, major or threatening to desert to the completion. Down at this level, users I have spoken to say, they see how to get the most benefit from their text analytics product.
With this in mind, Clarabridge announced in its version 4.5 “Tower” release can help apply text analytics to your customer and consumer level analytics. One of the new capabilities it calls “word clouds” which come as part of several new analytics capabilities. Word clouds show users in graphic form the content of text, helping them identify words and phrase they should be zeroing in on. Other new capabilities include easy-to-use dashboards, more advanced visualization options and improved sharing of data and insights between users. The explosion in social media has led Clarabridge to include interfaces to more social media sites, so users can extract data directly from them and one of my recent points of emphasis. The new release comes with support for two more languages, French and Portuguese, with more promised to support the expansion into Europe. Alongside these function enhancements are several new administration features that make the product easier to set up, configure and manage. This release builds on my last analysis of Clarabridge that I see as connecting the dots in finding causal factors contributing to good and bad customer experience.
My recent research into customer analytics shows that adoption of text analytics is slightly lagging behind speech analytics. At the same time, there is no doubt that the explosion of social media is influencing companies’ requirements. Most companies I speak with want at least to monitor what people are saying about them on social media and determine their overall sentiment towards them. Text analytics is the right tool for these tasks, and as the three companies speaking at the Clarabridge launch highlighted, once you get the hang of using it, the benefits to be had are many and varied.
Have you invested in text analytics? I have provided you the focus that it is part of the contact center revolution in 2011, and now it is up to you to act upon. If so please tell us the benefits you have found and we can in return provide you some insightful research on customer analytics and role of text in your processes.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director
Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Clarabridge, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Information Management, 360-degree view of the Customer, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics
Unless you have been on a long vacation somewhere without newspapers, mobile phones or the Internet, you must have noticed all the buzz about social media – some of it factual and lots of it hype. Over a billion people use Facebook. There are many millions of tweets on Twitter every day, and YouTube has become the place to share videos, whether for a laugh, for a company’s brand awareness or for training courses. The key question for business is how much of this is useful for commerce and how much is just socializing. I started researching this movement and its intersection some time back and last year spoke about Customer Service in the Social Media Age.
Companies should be looking at social media as another channel of communications with their customers and prospects. My research into the state of technology in contact centers shows that companies on average now support four channels of communications but that as yet social media is the least used. This is due to some extent to its newness, but I believe other factors also come into play. Social media is different than other channels. It is much more open-ended, and it is impossible to control who (and how many people) might see an entry. Therefore, companies and customers should be careful about what they post (or allow employees to post in their name). Social media generates high volumes of communications and thus can consume lots of time and effort both to keep up with and respond to entries. And like it or not, it is open to abuse, such as with disgruntled consumers running negative campaigns against companies, companies manipulating entries to sway consumers’ views and both sides reacting badly to provocative entries.
Another significant difference is that use of social media transcends business units; this might be the hardest thing for companies to reconcile. As a speaker pointed out at the recent IQPC Executive Customer Contact Exchange (ECCE) conference, business can use social media for four activities – brand management (marketing), sales, customer service and product development. Of these it seems that the most use is for brand management, with marketing departments using it as a “cheap” channel to place advertising and also to monitor consumer comments about the company or brand. The next widest use is in the largely negative side of customer service, as customers post negative comments about companies, products and the quality of service they receive, and some companies respond. At the very least companies should be monitoring these comments using one of the many social media analytics tools; doing so they can extract a wealth of insights into what they and others are doing right and wrong (most often the latter).
At the present time other uses are less common. A few companies have extended the use of social media into their end-to-end customer service processes, such as in picking up entries requesting information on how to get a product working. This typically involves capturing social media entries using one of the engines now available, routing service entries to the contact center or customer service group, and then having someone post a response through the same channel or if appropriate a different channel. In a similar way some companies are picking up potential sales opportunities, as in the form of entries requesting information about a product, and routing these into their sales process. Finally some innovative companies are using social media forums to solicit feedback on potential product developments or enhancements.
It is still uncertain which of these uses will deliver real business value, but as companies experiment with social media, I advise them to take into account that typically each of these four uses is the responsibility of a different business unit. My research on the use of technology shows that one of the most important things for companies and customer alike is consistency – of information and experience. Inconsistency in either means increased costs (providing multiple channels to get an answer), increased customer frustration and loss of potential business. To avoid these, companies should regard social media as a cross-business-unit responsibility and ensure that all use a single source of customer information and synchronize their processes across unit boundaries.
There was also a lot of discussion at the ECCE event as to how companies should put together their social media strategy. It seems to me that the first thing companies should do is “listen” to how their customers are using social media and what they are saying on different sites. Several vendors are doing this that I have been assessing including Attensity, Clarabridge, Genesys, ResponseTek, RightNow, salesforce.com and SAS These products, some of which are deployed in the cloud, can extract relevant entries from different sites and use text analytics to assess the content. Once you have this ability to listen you’ll be in a position to decide strategy and how best to benefit from social media going forward. Where does your company stand with regard to social media? What uses are you making of it? Do you have a product in place to monitor what is happening? Drop me a line and tell me about your experience.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director
Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, SAS, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Attensity, Clarabridge, Genesys, ResponseTek, RightNow, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Information Applications, 360-degree view of the Customer, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics
I have been doing research into customer relationship management (CRM), contact centers and analytics for seven years. Throughout that time some customer-related themes have remained constant: Companies say their top driver is to improve customer satisfaction; customer experience management (CEM) has overtaken CRM as a top priority; and companies still search for a 360-degree view of the customer (which now is often called “the voice of the customer”). For many companies these themes remain problematic. Most don’t really know how satisfied their customers are; many are not sure exactly what CEM is; and that 360-degree view of the customer remains elusive.