Archive for November, 2008

Was The Curves Smart Program a Smart Choice?

Posted on November 25, 2008. Filed under: Customer Insight Portal | Tags: , , , |

Susan Collinge of Customer Crossroads blogged about on how Curves created a tailored customer experience for women. But then she noted a distressing development.  Many of the Curves members started venting on her blog about the new Curves Smart system and how frustrated they were by the lack of results. It raised a red flag for Susan that many women were struggling and they were using her blog to vent their frustrations without an official way to voice their complaints.

Using Leximancer’s The Customer Insight Portal, we analyzed blogs mentioning Curves Smart, 2008 Yelp reviews in select markets, comments from Customer Crossroads, as well as analyzing the Curves Forum thread dedicated to Curves equipment to find if struggles with the Smart system were a widespread problem.

Above is a high-level conceptual map generated by The Customer Insight Portal showing the frequent themes (the big circles) and concepts (the small dots) communicated by women from the sources mentioned above.  Because the concept map interactively allows us to interrogate the common themes across all these sources, we were able to quickly identify some very specific customer intelligence. As is visible above, the theme Curves Smart doesn’t overlap any themes or concepts related to negative words, like frustrated or bad. This is telling, and provided an initial visual indicator of what we were to find by clicking through the map.

In fact, clicking on the concept Smart shows that the word is most closely correlated to comments related to using the program and its efficacy. And since The Customer Insight Portal lets you see verbatim responses, a user can hone in on exact phrases used to describe Smart. Verbatims show the positive response to the Smart program.

•    “Oh man, the more I hear about people trying and LOVING the smart machines, the more anxious I get to get them at my own club. I have no clue if/when that will be, but I do know I will be doing it, without any question”.
•    “I love the smart machines, too. It’s always a competition with myself to burn more calories than last time, or to increase my PI.”
•    “I am having trouble on the smart machines achieving my green lights. The top one rarely comes on, and the lower one flashes or turns yellow.”
•    “I feel like the SM really push me too. I watch some of the people who arent using the smart equipment and they just don’t look like they’re doing much work at all.”
•    “We have the curves smart at our location and I love it. we’ve only been doing it for three days, but I truly am exhausted when I finish.”

Further exploring the concept map, other unknown insights were identified from the wide range of customer comments.  For example,  we were able to explore an interesting correlation between staff and training.
It seems that customers perceive that Curves doesn’t appear to have a consistent training program, and that not only are members not trained properly but staff members as well. In addition, there seems to be a significant lag between training and customer service.

Verbatims include:
•    “Our club just received ours a week ago but the staff is waiting for training. Our boss took only one staff member to training with her last week and the rest of us are supposed to be trained this week.”
•    “I must have not made my post clear; I’m not a owner nor a manager; I’m a staff member and I did not get to attend training. I was wondering if there is any way that staff members can attend training on their own?”
•    “Now I just have to wait for the machines to get outfitted (probably in about a week or so), the staff to get trained and then the training for the Curves attendees begins. I’m #6 on the list.”
•    “I went to the training, I believe what they said was 2 people per club were allowed to attend, but it was mainly to be owner and manager. they have a small training room and quite a few clubs at each training date to fit in.”
•    “But it should be part of the training for the smart machines that they make sure ALL members, local or travelers, understand how things work, even if they won’t be using all of the machines. it would certainly throw me off to not do a heart rate check.”

It appeared that Curves customers flocked to Customer Crossroads because Curves’ main failure was not giving its customers a way to voice their concerns. Yet our more thorough online analysis shows that many customers are embracing Curves Smart, and their frustration often focuses more on the lack of training or the lag time between receiving equipment and training.

Our take-away and the reason we continue to be happily surprised by the value of The Customer Insight Portal, is that preconceived ideas of customers’ experience prove again and again to be incorrect in significant ways.  And significant surprises create significant opportunities!

If you have a question related to your or another company’s customer experience that you think The Customer Insight Portal can help you answer, e-mail Chris Westfall (chris.westfall at leximancer.com) with recommendations for a future blog post.

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Using Social Media To Get to the Root of Customer Experience for Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Posted on November 20, 2008. Filed under: Customer Insight Portal | Tags: , , , , |

Meikah of Customer Relations: The New Competitive Edge visit to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in the Philippines brought up an interesting question about customer service. Should there be a limit to pleasing customers? Her visit made her realize that in its willingness to please, CBTL was allowing customers to perhaps overstay their welcome, meaning that new visitors were often unable to find seating.

To help Meikah answer her question and determine if finding available seating was a common problem for Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Leximancer’s The Customer Insight Portal analyzed Yelp! reviews from Los Angeles and San Francisco. The conceptual map is a starting point to viewing the data visually, and understanding the different concepts and themes that came up in Yelp! reviews. The Customer Insight Portal allows users to drill down all information and see the direct verbatims.

Above is a conceptual map of the data analyzed by Leximancer’s The Customer Insight Portal. The circles represent frequent themes found within the reviews. The file icons on the far right and left represent feedback from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Note how the theme tea is more closely correlated to San Francisco, and coffee is more closely correlated to Los Angeles. The theme parking is also very prevalent in Los Angeles reviews, which makes sense because of how car-centric Los Angeles is. Many of the comments related to feedback on how awful the drivers were in the parking lots and how customers had to pay for parking after more than an hour.

The Conceptual Map Breaking Down the Concepts by Themes

Above is another snapshot of the conceptual map of the data analyzed by Leximancer’s The Customer Insight Portal. This time the concepts, which help determine the themes, have been filled in. As you can see Starbucks is closely aligned with Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL).

Yelpers Feel Parking is Important for Coffee Bean & Tea Leafs in Los Angeles

Yelpers Feel Parking is Important for Coffee Bean & Tea Leafs in Los Angeles

As Meikah noted her blog post, seating was a concern as many people are prone to settle in, which makes seating scarce for new arrivals. For the San Francisco and Los Angeles branches of CBTL, seating did show up as something that was on the minds of their customers. See the seating concept within the outdoor theme above; clearly customers are talking about outdoor seating—which we found by selecting some of the ‘evidence’ links in The Customer Insight Portal.

The majority of references related to seating were related to available outdoor seating, which makes sense in warmer California, especially Los Angeles. For CBTL, this creates actionable customer insight as they’ll know to the patio seating preference of their Califormia customers.

Leximancer’s The Customer Insight Portal let us drill down to the specific feedback given. Below are excerpts of the 47 reviews related to seating:

•    Kudos for outdoor seating so i can sit outside with my smoker friends slowly killing myself breathing in that lovely second-hand smoke. Thanks guys…i love you too. and for always getting my drink right. and for being right next to my work. and always having room for me to sit.
•    Outside seating means great people watching, if you consider the people in this neighborhood remotely interesting.
•    This is a good one because it’s pretty big inside and there’s outside seating for all the hot-body watching.
•    Solid drinks, nice Baristas and plenty of outdoor seating. I absolutely love sitting outside on a windy and chilly later afternoon enjoying a smoke, a nice cup of whatever, and some good ol’ free wi-fi.
•    Not so much seating inside, but lots outside, including a big fun firepit!
•    And, it’s right in front of a nice big park that you could relax in. Or, there is outside seating, and a firepit.
•    They only have about 4 tables outside and no indoor seating. .. but it’s the grab and go location I visit anyway.
•    Unlike most Coffee Beans in West LA that are generally located on busy streets corners, this location is in a residential area and thus you are not sucking in diesel fumes from the Blue Bus while seating outdoors. The patio alsk has a fire pit that provides cozy heat during winter months.
•    Seating is horrible, as there are a couple tables and an overstuffed chair, and the place is constantly moving.
•    This CB & T along the Market St.-strip is the busiest in terms of crowds and location. The outdoor seating area is not great and becomes a toxic-wasteland section for smokers.
•    This location is nice for the outdoor seating, assuming it’s not another one of the San Francisco bone chilling days.
•    This is one of THE best corners for people-watching and celeb-spotting in all of L. A.. Lots of outdoor seating where people and pooches soak up the sun.
•    There is plenty of seating tho, especially welcome when the rain is falling, which I suppose is the main draw.
•    The location is very central on Fillmore St so it is very tough to find outdoor seating on a nice day
•    The indoor seating is very limitied – like 2 small tables. They have a huge patio area with a fire pit that keeps you warm in the winter months.

Also, related to customer experience is the correlation between the concepts friendly and service. While not everyone rates their service highly, many of the customers felt the baristas were very friendly. The proximity to the themes of service and location are telling, as it shows that Yelp reviewers feel that service depends on the location.

Another important thread of review comments that we found was Starbucks. It was easy to find a direct correlation between reviews of Starbucks and CBTL. And we can see the most reviewers prefer CBTL to Starbucks.

•    Okay, I used to refuse to accept that Coffee Bean could possibly be better than Starbucks, but then I really gave it a chance one day and realized that it actually IS much more satisfying.
•    I love everything about the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, far better than Starbucks and any other competitors. I drink in and buy my own for home and work.
•    Coffee Bean can kick Starbucks ass any day of the week. However, my local CB is not up to par on the classy coffee joints I’m used to.
•    Coffee Bean has the best vanilla lattes. They actually still have baristas unlike Starbucks.
•    You gotta hand it to Coffee Bean despite being a chain, it feels oh-so-local compared to the corner Starbucks, and in Los Feliz, the locals do come out for their coffee here, and many leave their laptops at home in favor of a newspaper, or (*gasp!*) actually talking with other people!
•    I love everything about the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, far better than Starbucks and any other competitors. I drink in and buy my own for home and work.

While this blog post only provides a brief overview we hope that readers can see that using The Customer Insight Portal can result in actionable insight that can be used to increase customer retention and satisfaction.

If you have a question related a company’s customer experience you think The Customer Insight Portal can help you answer, e-mail Chris Westfall (chris.westfall at leximancer.com) with recommendations for a future blog post.

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Leximancer Introduces LexBox

Posted on November 14, 2008. Filed under: Customer Insight Portal, News | Tags: , , , |

Every company with a Web site should have a place for online feedback where customers can express their likes and dislikes. For companies, this feedback can be instrumental in perfecting the customer experience. You can collect data all day long, but it is the companies who actually analyze the feedback and make changes accordingly who will see a return on customer insight.

That’s why Leximancer has introduced LexBox, a way for companies to incorporate and directly analyze feedback. This widget allows companies to implement a feedback box into their own sites, and receive analysis through The Customer Insight Portal.

Feedback Form

Feedback Form

You can see LexBox at work on our Feedback page. The LexBox creates a conceptual map, which is accessible on The Customer Insight Portal, containing the primary themes and specific concepts from current Leximancer customers. As you can see with the Leximancer Feedback page, the map is able to identify likes and dislikes from the feedback form. By analyzing the map, we can see that users of The Customer Insight Portal like how easy it is to use, how the data is presented in concepts and themes, and how useful it is in the research process. In addition, with the new version users would like to see an updated demo video to reflect the new changes. This creates actionable customer insight for Leximancer —and yes, multiple new demo videos are being developed as we write this blog.

Conceptual Map Generated by Feedback Inputted into LexBox

Conceptual Map Generated by Feedback Inputted into LexBox

You can download the information needed to put LexBox on your site by clicking here for the Lex Box User Guide. Keep in mind, to get at the analysis you need to be a subscriber to The Customer Insight Portal.

If you have any questions, leave us a comment, and we’ll be happy to help.

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How customer reviews can define your advertisements

Posted on November 10, 2008. Filed under: Customer Insight Portal, Leximancer, Webinar | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

In an age where the average advertisement costs thousands of dollars and requires hundreds of staff hours – and when a 30-second commercial spot during the Superbowl is nearing upwards of $3 million dollars – companies need to ensure that their ads are being put in the right place and at the right time.

Not every company needs a Superbowl commercial to hit their target audience. Consumers can be reached through so many outlets – including the Internet. With hundreds of review sites like Amazon, Buzzillions, CNET, etc. that contain hundreds of trustworthy reviews from consumers that use your product or services, companies can use this information to gain actionable customer insight and allow themselves to target their advertisements appropriately.

In Leximancer’s most recent Webinar, this notion was discussed. While analyzing reviews on a Canon camera lens from both Amazon and Buzzillions, The Customer Insight Portal was able to identify key issues and themes relating to reviews from each site. When comparing reviews from both, you could see that consumers on Amazon had much different opinions than those on Buzzillions.

Map highlighting the common themes and concepts from Amazon reviews

Map highlighting the common themes and concepts from Amazon reviews

While one set of reviews focused on the more technical aspects of the lens, the other focused on accessories and general features. Ultimately, it would make sense for Canon to tailor to these consumers accordingly – placing ads on Amazon that promoted some of the more technical aspects of the lens, and focus their ads on some of the available lens accessories on Buzzillions.

By being able to take customer reviews and use text analytics to identify the common themes and concepts associated with such, Canon and companies alike can really focus and target their advertisement efforts. In turn, by focusing their ads on what customers are already speaking about, companies would likely see a greater return on investment – proving that when done right and done smart, targeted advertising efforts do pay off.

Join us for our next Webinar,  Don’t Just Monitor Social Media…Analyze and Act On It, on Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 1:00 p.m. EST for a discussion on monitoring social media and how to use what people are saying to understand why they are saying it. For more information or to register, click here.

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What You Don’t Know, CAN Hurt You

Posted on November 5, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

“What you don’t know can hurt you.” Those words of Leximancer founder Dr. Andrew Smith resonated with Joanna Mather of the Australian Financial Review. In her recent article, “Data Miner Finds Needles in Haystacks,” Mather profiles Smith and Leximancer’s revolutionary software that allows users to find the information they need in order to make sound business decisions.
With the ability to take unstructured text and identify the important themes, concepts and relationships between the two, Leximancer’s software has the power to answer questions you didn’t even know to ask.
Using Leximancer, people have the power to unlock information they never knew existed, which gives companies a tremendous competitive advantage.
To read the rest of the article, click here (subscription required).

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