Satmetrix helps keep score when “sparks” fly on the Social Web


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Satmetrix has launched a new free service called SparkScore which turns social commentary into a Netpromoter score (NPS). A “spark” is a social comment — such as a Tweet, Facebook post or other text available on the Internet.

According to Satmetrix CEO Richard Owen, they chose the name “SparkScore” because Satmetrix wanted an exclusive brand. (NPS is a registered trademark of Bain, Satmetrix and Fred Reichheld.) However, it’s really just a social version of NPS, calculated by subtracting detractors from promoters.

Scoring social media

But it turns out that was easier said than done. Partnering with analytics firm Metavana, Satmetrix figured out how to put social content into the familiar promoter, passive and detractor buckets. Without that, you can’t calculate a “net” promoter score. Only “qualifying” sparks — those that can be classified in the NPS scheme — are included in the calculation. Owens says about 80% of social posts are excluded for this reason.

Also note that these are not the same as positive and negative sentiment, which is commonly reported in social media monitoring systems. You can have positive sentiment that indicates a “passive” in the NPS world. The algorithm is proprietary, but Satmetrix claims it has 90%+ accuracy in determining the SparkScore (again, social NPS) because they validated it using comments that also had NPS data.

So if you like NPS and you’re searching for a way to make sense of the deluge of social data, you’ll love SparkScore. At least, that’s what Satmetrix hopes. The free SparkScore service is essentially a lead gen campaign for Satmetrix, which hopes to sell its EFM solution to those who want to dig deeper and actually do something with the insight. More on that in a minute.

Currently SparkScore provides data for airlines, hotels/motels and PCs. Later this year you’ll see smartphones, printers and financial services, says Owen.

Spend a few minutes with the free service, as I did, and you’ll probably find that it validates many of your brand perceptions. For example, in the airlines category, JetBlue, Southwest, and Virgin America all scored above the category average. United scored at/near the bottom. Here are the Virgin America results.

But you may also find some surprises. In PCs, you might think Apple would lead the industry in positive… oops, I mean promoter comments. While Apple did score above the industry average, it is actually Asus that gets the best scores.

So what?

This is interesting, for sure, but what will a brand do with this info? Satmetrix is one of the major players in the industry for so-called Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) solutions. The history of EFM industry is all about surveys. Give customers surveys after a transaction or periodically, crunch the numbers and distribute the info to managers who (presumably) will do something to fix problems and increase customer satisfaction/loyalty over time.

But how things have changed in recent years. The Social Web enables anyone to give unsolicited feedback, without waiting for a survey. Actually social is just one of six dimensions of feedback (surveys are another) that companies can use to understand how customers feel about their experiences. The macro trend is towards unsolicited and unstructured feedback, where social media plays a huge role.

A few years ago, the EFM vendor community started tacking on social/text mining features, but without a meaningful way to assign a satisfaction/loyalty score. Clearly, just sentiment (positive/negative) is not enough. Satmetrix was silent during this time and I wondered why. Now, it’s clear they were working on a more robust approach that enables social feedback to be incorporated into the NPS approach.

Satmetrix has been a bit stealthy about promoting these new capabilities in their flagship Satmetrix Xperience solution. Although SparkScore was officially announced in June, Owens says they plan to work with a handful of customers this year in what he characterizes as a “1.0” release. If all goes well, look for a bigger splash later this year.

What’s next?

The free SparkScore service is very interesting, but pretty limited in what you can learn. I’d like to see the free service expanded to be a more useful and lightweight social media monitoring (SMM) application.

For now, after poking around and making some comparisons, your next step is to contact Satmetrix where they’ll try to sell you something. I think it would be much more effective to provide a free or low-cost “freemium” SMM app that would enable a user to do more analysis, respond to tweets, etc. And then provide an upgrade path from there for larger enterprises.

But this is a key strategic choice for Owens and Satmetrix in the year ahead. I think the SMM market is a lot bigger than EFM, although it’s very crowded. Maybe it’s time for a new player that helps score social feedback just like structured survey data.

Further reading: The Next-Generation Voice of Customer Command Center: Tool Time for Chief Customer Officers


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