Magazine article CRM Magazine

Captures Consumer Sentiment: Technologies Blend Data from Different Sources, Emotional States, and Moments in Time

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Captures Consumer Sentiment: Technologies Blend Data from Different Sources, Emotional States, and Moments in Time

Article excerpt


Nothing reveals more about a business than the voices of its harshest critics and most ardent supporters--its customers. And there was a time when basic speech analytics was sufficient to help companies learn what their clients were thinking. The technology could analyze thousands, even millions, of customer interactions to unearth the vital intelligence needed to build effective cost containment and customer service strategies.

However, the days of basic speech analytics are long gone. That's not to say speech analytics has been relegated to a bottom desk drawer somewhere or housed on some remote server that seldom gets used. On the contrary, the speech analytics market is as vibrant as ever, with research firm Ovum predicting it would nearly double, from $95 million in 2009 to $180 million by 2014. Thanks to changes in how vendors position the technology, it is gaining ground.

Innovations, which include text analytics integration, emotion detection, real-time capabilities, and an emphasis on actionable results, are driving adoption of speech-based solutions in the contact center and beyond.


Once marketed as stand-alone solutions, speech analytics more often than not is being packaged with text analytics to provide a 360-degree view across all of the ways in which customers communicate with and about companies. Speech analytics takes care of phone conversations and other audio, while text analytics handles all of the written forms of communications, including text messages, email, chat sessions, blog posts, Web forums, review sites, and social media.

Naturally, companies need to extract actionable information and sentiment from the vastly untapped world of social media.

"You need to be able to control all the mentions of your brand, and so companies really need to pay attention to what's in the public domain and make sense of it," says Ed Shepherdson, managing director of customer interaction solutions at Coveo, an enterprise search vendor that blends speech and text data to formulate a single voice of the customer.

Such a blending, he says, makes it easier for companies to determine whether there is a correlation between what's in the public domain and what they're getting from customer surveys and from the call center.

This form of analytics, called multichannel analytics or analytics convergence, "is absolutely where the industry is going," says Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting.

When it comes to the voice of the customer, "speech is just one of the channels involved," Fluss says. "There's written communications, and there's spoken communications. And if you want to fully understand what the customer wants, you have to look at both.

"I expect the market to move more and more in the direction where one company offers both speech and text analytics in one solution set," she adds. "It's already happening."

The blending of the two is a fairly easy process, given that the foundation of speech analytics is the transcription of calls from spoken to written words and then the indexing of those words in relation to other words and throughout the entire recording.


With these new capabilities to pull voice and text together, "all content comes through a single search box, reducing the time needed to find information," explains Kevin Calderwood, president of Vivisimo, a provider of enterprise search solutions that recently launched the Customer Experience Optimization (CXO) solution to blend information sources. "Now we can go outside a company's firewalls to get information that is contained within the public domain, like the Web and social media."

One of the first purely speech analytics vendors to embrace multichannel analytics was Autonomy etalk. Slightly more than a year ago, the company released Explore, which lets businesses connect to and understand almost any type of customer interaction, including audio recordings, Web site visits, chat threads, survey responses, CRM records, blog posts and responses, product reviews, email and documents, Twitter posts, social media status updates, wiki entries, videos, point-of-sales information, transaction records, news articles, and forum comments. …

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