Emerging TechnologyAI & AutomationSentiment: The consumer data differentiator

Sentiment: The consumer data differentiator

Sentiment is key to being able to look at consumer data from call centers, forums, employee feedback, online reviews -- the full customer journey.

Consumer data in the digital world is plentiful – which poses challenges for many brands. Which data should you be focused on, and what’s the most reliable way to access it?

The hard reality is you need to accurately analyze a mix of data to find insights to drive business initiatives. The siloed approach of the past is beyond outdated – meaning you can’t stop sending social data to marketing, and sales data to sales, etc.

An integrated approach is needed – but not all brands are on board. Or if they are, they’re still over-prioritizing the wrong data. Here’s how CX professionals responded when asked which data sources they currently use to make CX decisions.

Which data sources are currently being used to make customer experience decisions?

Source: Customer Experience Analytics Research Survey, August 2018, by NetBase

The respondents were asked to check all that apply, so certainly there are some in the mix who use all of the above. But in a perfect world, every line would extend to the 100% mark, with every brand using every type of data to fuel strategy.

Since that’s not the case, let’s look at some of these data sets on their own – and talk about why they aren’t enough.


Surveys were the most-used type of data, so we’ll start there. Surveys are great! But they’re highly flawed because they are from the brand/business perspective. Important questions may be omitted – simply because you don’t want to know the answers. Additionally, those taking surveys often feel subconsciously pressured to answer the way they think brands want.

Unless of course, the very act of taking a survey turns them off your brand, which anecdotal evidence suggests.

So, surveys as a primary data set are at best an incomplete view of consumer opinion, and, at worst, entirely unreliable or damaging.

What makes sentiment a data differentiator?

Social media data is the next most common choice by those polled, and this is a hugely important data set for informing the customer experience. Why? Because it’s direct from the mouths of the people who matter most – your audience. It’s unfiltered, unapologetic, in-your-face truth that’s refreshing constantly.

That’s not to say all social data is equal, because obviously, it isn’t. Trolls and bots and spam don’t help you discover what your audience is all about. But that’s why social analytics tools were invented – to sift through the garbage to bring you pure insights relevant to your goals.

Sentiment analysis is a major part of this sorting process, providing context around the data you find, so you know which trends are about to take off, and which are fizzling out. Or whether consumer love for your brand is ebbing or flowing.

Social sentiment also clues you in to what to do – applying “weight” to topics and themes so you can see exactly where consumer hearts lie.

What’s great about sentiment analysis is how much data it impacts. Social data is obviously part of the mix, but if you have the right analytics tools platform, you can also include data from forums, review sites, and blogs, as well as broader customer experience analytics data – like star reviews, call center data, surveys, and more.

In fact, all the data streams used by our surveyed CX professionals can be brought into one place for analysis, so nothing must be de-prioritized.

However, only about half of our survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they’re able to successfully bring data streams together for analysis.

Is your company effective at bringing different data sources together to make customer experience decisions?

Source: Customer Experience Analytics Research Survey, August 2018, by NetBase

That means half are squandering valuable resources and need to do a better job.

Companies that effectively bring all information together have a huge advantage over those that aren’t. Every channel, every touchpoint, every morsel of data you fail to consider is a gift to your competitors. It becomes an even bigger travesty when you realize the data is available—that giving it over is a choice.

We have seen that too many CX professionals aren’t leveraging—or prioritizing—data from call centers, forums, employee feedback, or online reviews. They’re also not giving equal weight to all parts of the customer journey—as the lower ranking of post-purchase activity indicates. To create a winning customer experience, your approach should include the entire customer journey.

Paige Leidig is Chief Marketing Officer at NetBase Solutions, Inc.


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