A recent article appeared in the NY Times: Mining the Web for Feelings not Facts, talks about a new science of searching the web for customer satisfaction data through mining of words, rather than survey data. While not 100% accurate (the article talks about 70 -80% accuracy) it is clear that ‘real time’ opinions can be mined from social media and blogs far faster than at any other point in history. See the full article at

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/24/technology/internet/24emotion.html

“For many businesses, online opinion has turned into a kind of virtual currency that can make or break a product in the marketplace” says Alex Wright, the article’s author.”

Typical customer satisfaction techniques of surveying customers to understand their level of satisfaction, while it may have some accuracy advantages, will be found to take too long in today’s instantaneous feedback environment.

Here’s some products and services currently available.

Scouts Lab: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/scoutlabs

As an example, Scout Labs, a company that provides a subscription service to monitor blogs, online forums, news articles and social networking sites for opinions about products, services or topics, found negative comments on a blog about a NY Yankees – Red Sox game that had a rain delay. It seems that stadium officials told hundreds of fans that the game was cancelled in error; then refused to refund their tickets on the grounds that the game had actually been played, just at a later time. Clearly this is just cause for customer satisfaction to deteriorate. An error was made by the stadium officials. The customers were told the game was cancelled. It would be normal for the customer to expect to get a refund. Fortunately due to the trends spotting, the company Stub Hub was able to recover and offer restitution to affected customers.

Now think back to traditional ways of assessing customer satisfaction through surveys. How long would it have been before this situation might have come to the attention of management, if at all?  Most customer satisfaction surveys do a sampling, not a census of all customers. So what are the chances that a sampling might have uncovered enough of the ‘hundreds’ of customers who were unfairly turned away for it to become noticed by management. How long might it have taken for this dissatisfaction to emerge? It would most certainly have been more than hours or a days, most probably weeks or even months. How do you get those customers back?

Jodange www.jodange.com

Jodange offers a service geared toward online publishers that lets them incorporate opinion data drawn from over 450,000 sources, including mainstream news sources, blogs and Twitter.  One of  Jodange’s services called Top of MindTM helps answer the questions: “Who is saying What about What? Who’s the Key Influencer? What is the leader’s opinion and his or her ability to influence others.”

NewssiftTM www.newssift.com

NewssiftTM is an intelligent search tool from the Financial Times Group.  Newssift sorts articles into positive and negative comment (sentiment) allowing you to find what’s encouraging or troubling about an issue, company or product. . For example, a company could have positive sentiment about its products but negative sentiment about how it treats employees or how it handles ‘green’ issues. Newssift orients itself exclusively to business

Tweetfeel is for the more casual user. http://tweetfeel.com

TweetFeel will  run search queries on Twitter for products, celebrities, companies, brands etc. that you key into their search box and  provide  what the average Twitter user thinks of them in a matter of seconds. You can even find out what people think about you by entering your name.

Twendz is a beta product: at http://twendz.waggeneredstrom.com/

twendz is a Twitter mining Web application that utilizes the power of Twitter Search, highlighting conversation themes and sentiment of the tweets that talk about topics you pick. As the conversation changes, so does twendz reporting bar by evaluating up to 70 tweets at a time. You can see if the sentiment is positive or negative or neutral. When new tweets are posted, they are dynamically updated, minute by minute.

twendz is a glimpse into what’s on people’s minds and their emotional reaction. Mining Twitter conversations alerts you to brewing trends, conversation topics and points of view

Twitrratr at http://twitrratr.com/

Discover what people are really saying on Twitter. With Twitrratr you can distinguish negative from positive tweets surrounding a brand, product, person or topic.  A search on Michael Jackson brought back an instant result from 1500 Tweets, 13.5 % positive, 81.8% neutral, and 4.7% negative with examples of the Tweets in each category.

Twittratr is a StartupWeekend project that started simply with the question of whether tweets about Obama were generally positive or negative in nature. It moved from tracking opinion surrounding Obama, to tracking opinion on any topic.

Summary:

Customer Satisfaction techniques have to change with the dynamic web and social media environment. One of the basic principles of customer satisfaction is to keep a pulse on how satisfied customers are with your company, products, service and reputation. With new techniques to go public with dissatisfaction or its opposite: delight, the old methods of surveying customers needs to be augmented to include monitoring sentiment and analyzing sentiment using emerging tools and services. Watch this space!

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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

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