Why Sentiment Doesn’t Matter – If You Don’t Know Why


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whygraphic 300x225 Why Sentiment Doesnt Matter If You Dont Know WhySentiment is a widely discussed topic in the social, market and customer analytics world. Most vendors and buyers talk about sentiment as the “holy grail” and extremely difficult to get right. Attensity has been doing sentiment analysis for years and offers a very accurate view of sentiment (over 95% in some cases) due to our patented Exhaustive ExtractionTM approach, BUT what we have found when working with our customers is that sentiment really DOESN’T MATTER if you can’t connect a why to it. Why is a customer really upset or very satisfied?

About 4 years ago a very senior executive in customer service in a large technology company called me personally and asked me to give him a demo of Attensity. At the time, his company’s Net Promoter TM score had made a large decline and the entire executive staff were pointing the finger at him and his team. He was furious and a bit afraid. What was going on? Was it really the recent outsourcing of part of the customer service department to an overseas group that was at the root of the issue? They had been getting complaints about accents for a while now.

So we took the verbatim text in their customer satisfaction surveys and also looked across social media and we found something completely different than what they expected. Yes, there was negative sentiment (just like the surveys scores indicated), but it became very clear, very quickly that the latest version of their product, while a breakthrough new release, was also extremely problematic. The product works on the background of any personal computer (PC) and the new product, while functionally superior, had huge performance problems. Every customer that complained, always mentioned the huge performance latency they were experiencing after they installed the new version. The technology company ultimately reorganized their development and QA groups and created a performance center of excellence. In just a few months after getting this insight, they completely overhauled the new product to improve performance, and immediately rolled-it -out to their customer base. As the improved version penetrated the market, they experienced significant improvements in satisfaction and their sentiment across channels improved greatly.

In this case, as with so many others, the WHY behind the sentiment was so critical to their business. Being able to both understand the sentiment and more importantly, being able to impact the sentiment in a positive direction was what impacted their customer’s satisfaction and ultimately retention. It also drove them to focus in the right place. While the blame initially fell on customer service, the action that impacted sentiment the most was with the product itself. Below are a few more examples where the WHY behind the sentiment, made all of the difference to the business:

1) Product Defect Identification– one of the largest and more well known consumer technology companies launched a new version of a popular product last year. The sentiment online was trending negative, but why? They realized quickly with Attensity that a product defect (that affected earlier versions of the product) was affecting this version too. They fixed it before wide-scale roll-out and the sentiment changed immediately. The new product was a raving success!

2) Prioritized Improvement Areas – one of the world’s largest hotel chains uses Attensity to identify at the property-level what is driving poor satisfaction and negative sentiment online. By looking at hotel surveys, Trip Advisor and a myriad of other social sites, Attensity provides to them a daily, prioritized list of the top things they can do at the specific property to make improvements that directly impact the customer and their feedback.

3) Why Your Competition is Killing You – another Attensity consumer technology customer had started to fall behind when it came to market-share against some of its biggest competitors. Market opinion and buzz about them, compared to their competition on key initiatives that all companies in their space were taking was negative. But when they just looked at sentiment it seemed like across the board they were perceived negatively – when in fact, that wasn’t true. With Attensity, they were able to see exactly why they weren’t being recognized as a leader in the specific area. They used this insight to change their marketing and even products and product naming to better meet market demand and perception! Sentiment and sales improved.

4) How to Fix Your Website/Online Content – a large financial institution had some of the most significantly negative sentiment about their website in social media – more so than any other comparable retail bank. With Attensity they could understand exactly what about their online banking services, web content and even Facebook presence bothered customers so much. They made changes and the sentiment tides are changing!

5) Which Customers To Spend More Time & Money On – grumpiness is not created equally. While some people are excellent at being grumpy (I know too many of these people) they might not be the people as a business that you should invest a lot of money on to make them happy, while others you absolutely should. One large telecommunications provider not only looked for customers with extremely negative sentiment, but also used Attensity to determine who these customers were and how much influence they had when they spoke out negatively. This helped the business prioritize who, how and what they responded to grumpy customer with and allowed them to both leverage their internal resources better and to focus on the customers that were the most influential.

Do you have any examples you can share about the why behind your customer’s sentiment?

Photo Credit: alshepmcr

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Michelle deHaaff
Michelle leads marketing at Medallia, the leader in SaaS Customer Experience Management and has over 18 years of experience in marketing, branding, product management and strategic partnering in Silicon Valley. Michelle came to Medallia from Attensity where as Vice President of Marketing and Products she led the transformation of the brand and the products to be the leader in Social Analytics and Engagement. Michelle also led Marketing at AdSpace Networks, was a GM of Products at Blue Martini Software and worked at Ernst & Young as a CRM practice manager.


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