Online ratings and satisfaction scores only partially reveal what customers really think. Which raises the question: in the age of Yelp and TripAdvisor, how deeply does your company dive into online reviews and customer feedback?
If your answer ranges from “not deep at all” and “we’re just looking at the number of stars” to “just a little deeper than surface level,” here’s something to consider: your customers serve as one of the most valuable sources of information for your business.
More than grading their experience on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, they’re expressing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions in free-form text — and expecting your company to respond. They’re trying to let you know that the weekend shift bartender plays music a decibel too loud, that Cynthia at tech support is the friendliest and most helpful of the bunch, that the insurance coverage you offer is truly impressive, even if a bit pricey. They’re sharing their experiences on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, and other places where customers are, in ways not possible before the Internet happened, making their voices heard.
More Companies Diving into the Entire Anatomy of Feedback
An increasing number of companies are looking beyond the surface level of customer reviews and diving into the entire anatomy of customer feedback. They’re hoping to make sense of massive amounts of feedback and achieve a more accurate, complete, and unified view of the customer.
According to research from Cornell University, analyzing textual information from reviews can yield insights not commonly indicated in satisfaction scores or numerical star ratings.
One method that has emerged and seen rising adoption in recent years is text analytics, with sentiment analysis.
- Text analytics refers to a set of linguistic, statistical, and machine learning techniques that structure textual information — like free-form text from customer reviews and feedback — for business intelligence, research, or investigation.
- Usually part of a larger text analytics effort, sentiment analysis involves the analysis of data in order to extract various forms of attitudinal information, such as sentiment, opinion, mood, and emotion.
Here are 3 ways your company can benefit from analyzing — instead of merely collecting or aggregating — customer feedback.
1. You can discover and resolve underlying issues.
According to IBM, 80 percent of all data today is unstructured. This means that online reviews, star ratings, social media comments, phone calls, customer survey responses, and other forms of feedback are a goldmine for finding and resolving any underlying issues with the customer experience.
You may look at your Yelp or TripAdvisor page, with its collection of 5-star reviews, and quickly conclude that all is well, and there’s nothing to worry about. But by digging deeper and analyzing your feedback through text analytics, you may discover that even happy customers are talking about “cold food” or “long wait times.”
2. You can understand, at a glance and at scale, what customers really mean.
It’s difficult to pin down sentiment, especially if you’re only looking at satisfaction scores or numerical ratings. It also isn’t enough to capture the voice of the customer; you have to be able to interpret it, too.
Let’s say a Yelper described a menu item in your restaurant as being “spicy” — in this case, a range of modifiers can change the entire sentiment of that Yelper’s entire review. A plate of chicken curry that’s “deliciously spicy” will not be a cause for concern for your chef and kitchen staff, but one that’s “too spicy” will.
With sentiment analysis, you can develop the capability to understand — at a glance and at scale — what your customers really mean whenever they share their thoughts in their own words. It takes the guesswork out of feedback management, and there’s no need to spend hours every day reading every single word in every single review, either.
That way, you can respond to reviews more effectively, identify mixed-sentiment feedback that requires your attention, understand the things that customers mention organically, without prompting, and even discover new ways to increase customer lifetime value.
3. You can fine-tune your brand messaging and communications.
Analyzing customer feedback can also be helpful in building a brand that resonates with your audience.
Trends and patterns that come to the surface through text analytics can provide your marketing team with great direction so that brand messaging and communications can be tailored to speak the language of your customers.
As you actively manage online reviews and customer feedback on social media and review sites, always keep in mind that there’s more to dive into other than your star ratings and scores. With text analytics, you can gain actionable insights that will drive positive action across your entire organization.