Do You Achieve Customer Intimacy?

Posted on February 10, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Special note to readers: This may be Leximancer’s ONLY holiday themed blog post, but pending feedback we’re willing to try again. ☺

With Valentine’s Day coming up, now is as good a time as any to ask yourself – do you achieve customer intimacy? Sure, you can throw all kinds of stuff at your customers that you think they might like, but do you really listen to them to understand specifically what they want? As with any relationship, intimacy will only be obtained by truly understanding and getting to know one another.

Michael Maoz of Gartner wrote an excellent blog post recently, “As CIO, you’ve said CRM is your differentiator. Now what?” In it, he cited from a recent Gartner survey that “the highest percentage of CIOs (54%) listed customer intimacy as their number one goal in technology and process projects.” For CIOs to really engage with their customers, they must listen to them, and also be both proactive and reactive – in order to achieve that closeness with a customer. Companies must understand the root cause behind customer opinion and not just count customers or search aimlessly for keywords in their comments, but rather respond with dialogue, or innovative new products and services that show clear understanding of customers’ needs and desires.

If like these CIO’s, achieving customer intimacy is at the top of your 2009 to-do list, you’ll need to acquire a deep understanding of what your customer is telling you. You can’t just throw out an occasional survey to solicit feedback. You need to decipher all customer input in whatever format they decide to give it – official or not. Because as with most relationships, they might be telling you ‘yes’ that they’re happy, but once you dig deeper into their comments, you’ll find the ‘buts’, ‘ands’, and ‘ifs’.

Keep checking in on the Customer Insight blog as Leximancer will be launching a new paradigm for measuring and monitoring customer intimacy over the coming weeks. Not only will this paradigm provide an executive friendly visualization for customer intimacy, it will also enable easy access to customer feedback points to address the problem outlined in our last blog post.

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Net Promoter Conference Recap

Posted on February 8, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

We recently attended the Net Promoter Conference out in San Francisco and wanted to share some of the great insights we took away from our time there. Leximancer has a partnership with Satmetrix in which their Net Promoter customers can receive services based on The Customer Insight Portal alongside Satmetrix’s other solutions.

We were able to listen to some seasoned and brilliant professionals dedicated to building strong customer loyalty. One key takeaway from Brad Smith, the CEO of Intuit, was that Intuit found 81 percent of sales are directly attributable to word of mouth. With so many companies like Intuit seeing the majority of the sales deriving from current customers, it underlines the urgency of getting to the root of what customers are saying online.

Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com was another source of inspiration.  Zappos’ company DNA is all about providing a great customer experience.  And it really seems that customer comments really drive the energy they have; they love getting positive customer comments. They don’t just use a Net Promoter score in isolation, or any other metric in isolation for that matter, because they want to understand what the exact customer opinion is. As Bruce Temkin, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, pointed out, the value of the Net Promoter score isn’t as a metric, but rather as part of an approach for improving customer loyalty.

As we’ve talked about previously, we think online and social media communities can dramatically alter marketing research. The conference highlighted one company doing exactly that. Mars insists on getting to know their community and customers on the MY M&M’s community site. They look at all verbatim customer comments they receive through this ‘organic’ channel, rather than rely on slow study-oriented methods.  Understanding all of their customer comments helps companies like M&M unleash ‘the wisdom of crowds.

Ultimately, the biggest takeaway from the conference is that customers are a fantastic source, even the best source, for innovation. Wait for it…

To learn from customers and achieve real, actionable insight that drives innovation, customer feedback must be systematically understood and quantified in order to be acted upon. Reading comments one at a time, or worse coding them manually, will not provide a complete circle of feedback unless programmatic, ongoing, active listening and analysis happens.

It is refreshing for us at Leximancer to hear these same sentiments that we’ve built our company on delivered at the Net Promoter Conference. Not only did the conference reiterate to us the importance of the customer voice and influence, but also how imperative it is for companies to systematically understand customers and innovate for competitive advantage.

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Gut Versus Data: Making Decisions For Your Corporation

Posted on February 3, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Thomas Wallgum, an editor at CIO Magazine, had a recent article with a surprising admission from a study conducted by Accenture – 40 percent of major corporate decisions are made by instinct, not data.

This might seem surprising at first but it becomes more understandable considering that most executives receive data in hard-to-understand formats that require the expertise of a technical person to change in order to ‘ask another question.’ If the standard report is off target from a pressing question or issue, tough. At my last company, we had access to a database created by the Finance team via OLAP. It was next-to-impossible to change the reporting criteria, which made the data static and inflexible to meet the company’s changing needs—or more importantly the customers’ changing needs. And, no surprise, when you dig deeper into the CIO Magazine survey, it seems that 61 percent of executives felt that gut decisions were best because good data wasn’t available.

Even where traditional business intelligence solutions have evolved to more of dashboard visualization, they only focus on the “what”. As an example, if customer retention in Market X in Country Y is falling, you need to know more than the fact that this is the case – you need to know “why” it is falling which is something that only the unstructured data living in call center notes, CRM systems or in verbatim survey responses can tell you.

Despite the advances in dashboard visualization for structured data, 36 percent of executives felt their company lacked the analytical talent they needed to make use of the data they have. As these businesses start mining the unstructured data for the “why” the need for automated, easy access to that data, without any set-up, will be critical, as will the visualization capability to quickly get to the insights required.

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Finding the Right Voices in the Crowd

Posted on January 26, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Listening. Easily said, not always easily done. Companies are now keeping in tune with social media and many are doing their part to listen to what is being said about them, their competitors and their industries, but how do you really cut above all of the noise and the static to find meaning in this space?

Simply listening and monitoring social media for mentions and conversation about your company, product, service or what have you – will not help you fully understand the trends and themes of your customer responses.

Imagine, you’re standing in a massive coliseum listening to all of the people in the room talk. You are going to hear the people around you, but past that, nothing else – only white noise. How do you manage all of these conversations going on around you? How do you possibly make sense of what one group is talking about versus another and why? How do you interact with the conversation?

You can begin to sort people into groups – but what determines who the various groups are? Do you sort by the color of clothes they are wearing? Or the section of seats they are sitting in? Or by how many times they mention a company name? Unfortunately, by picking groups based on my preconceived ideas, I could be missing what they are saying as a mass. I won’t be able to easily decipher the important trends and themes of the mass by just listening.

Leximancer provides a way to find the signal amongst all of the static and noise – a way to conduct surveillance on the conversations happening in the coliseum; in the social media space. Using its powerful social media content analytics tool, The Customer Insight Portal (TCIP), companies can go one step further from listening to overwhelming chatter. They can truly understand it.

The Customer Insight Portal can break through the clutter, taking unstructured data such as comments in the social media space and from this identify the most common themes and trends throughout the conversations. It can identify the positives, the negatives and everything in between. By leaving it up to TCIP to sort through this noise, you can rest assured there will be no bias. It’ll ensure that you’re finding the right voices in the crowd enough to understand what are just whispers and what may be being screamed by the majority. Either way – instead of just listening to the noise, using TCIP you’ll actually be able to understand it and act on it.

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Four Resolutions Needed to Create a Better Customer Engagement Experience in 2009

Posted on January 16, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

1. Leverage Your Lost Information (Analyze Unstructured Data)
Companies in 2009 are facing a large obstacle –they don’t analyze or capitalize on 80 percent of their internal data, which isn’t even counting the social media data that most companies ignore. Think about that for a second. Using only 20 percent of resources in a business – think personnel, machinery, etc.—would be completely useless. Can you imagine telling the president of your company that you’re only successfully using two out of the ten employees in your division? So why, as a company, would you ignore data that can help your company make intelligent decisions?

What if this data told you that your entire customer base was displeased with your new product or service? Would you be able to then justify ad spending for your product to an already dissatisfied customer base? By analyzing this unstructured data, you will be able to tap into the hidden unknowns that could save your company considerable amounts of time, money and other resources.

2. Make Sure Your Customer Insight is Actionable
It seems like it should go without saying – make sure your customer insight is actionable. But it can be a common occurrence for companies to dig around and drum up data that is accurate but not actionable. Achieving actionable customer intelligence requires cutting out all of the background noise to get to the heart of what your customer wants and needs.

You can’t treat every comment and rant from every Tom, Harry and Sally the same. Consider this – every day, 20,000 new WordPress (blogging software) accounts are opened and BlogPulse estimates 70,000 blog accounts are opened globally per day. The reality is the Internet generates more information then a company can filter through by hand. The answer doesn’t lie in ignoring it all together but rather employing tools that can dig through to identify the signal from the noise. Creating actionable insight requires analyzing the majority of your data to find the discernible patterns and topics throughout all of your data – offline and online.

Creating actionable data is further hindered by the time involved with set-up with traditional analytics tools, ultimately taking away time from analysis and understanding. Furthermore, to truly create actionable data, you need clear insight on who is saying what. Actionable data requires knowing how the 18-to-35 year olds feel about your product versus how the 36-to-45-year olds feel. This requires the ability to analyze your data, comparing known variables to gain specific understandings about specific portions of the population.

3. Use Social Media for Marketing Research and Reduce the Time of Your Marketing Research Cycle
This is an area we’ve hammered on before – companies should no longer solely rely on traditional marketing research, which can take a year before finding the answers to a year-old question. Customers that complain on the internet pose a challenge to traditional market research methods. Take for instance companies like Get Satisfaction, which is built around serving as an unofficial customer service center. In addition to serving as a hub of customer dissent, it’s ripe with customer insight that can help companies nail down exactly what isn’t working or what needs to change with their latest product version. This is more preferable than waiting for the focus groups and phone surveys to take place where the results will often take months before trickling in. As the saying goes, “too little, too late.”

4. Increase the Metrics of Your Marketing Program

The next year will continue to see a heavy focus on social media as a marketing medium. With tightened budgets, the C-suite, more now than ever, is going to be focused on measurable results and ROI. This will involve more than just adding up page views, the number of links clicked and incoming links, which can be the standard means of measuring social media. Instead think of social media content analytics. This involves analyzing the comments being made or general buzz, whether on your site or the top blogs for your company. If you’re the Hyatt, this would mean analyzing the posts and comments on sites like Hotels.com, Trip Advisor, Expedia, Travelocity and Hotel Chatter. What is the general sentiment on those sites? What are the primary topics that occupy the attention of reviewers?  How does it compare quarter after quarter? Delving into social media content analytics will help companies truly understand the kind of buzz they are generating online. Truly moving the needle to change customer sentiment requires knowing how the sentiment is changing.

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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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