Making Social Media Work for QSRs

Posted on January 27, 2009. Filed under: Customer Insight Portal, Leximancer, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Time and time again we’ve stressed the importance of both listening and responding to social media conversations. We’ve highlighted how companies like Dunkin Donuts, W Hotel, Apple and others are missing huge customer intelligence opportunities by not truly acting on the wealth of unstructured insight available via social media sites on the Web. What this information can give companies – quickly and easily – is a gold mine of customer insight.

QSR Magazine agrees, and in a recent article featuring Leximancer’s The Customer Insight Portal and CEO Neil Hartley, discussed the importance of these social media sites and their customer conversations for quick service restaurants. Using Yelp, Twitter, BooRah, etc., quick service restaurants can uncover actionable and invaluable customer insight that they can act upon accordingly.

To read the full article, click here.

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Seven Questions to ask a Text Analytics Vendor

Posted on December 1, 2008. Filed under: Opinion Pieces | Tags: , , , |

Perhaps you have noticed that there really are no successful text analytics systems, which are in general use on people’s desktops. It is fair to ask why this is the case.

It isn’t that people don’t have the need to absorb larger bunches of text. In fact, I might take a guess that the basic approach taken by the makers and vendors that have preceded us isn’t appropriate to what people want to get from text data.

Alternatively, Leximancer is built to analyze big, medium or small; English or Greek or Malay; medical, CPG or high-tech; long or short bodies of unstructured text from just about any source.  The idea of what we’re accomplishing is new, and so is our way of making customers and partners successful.

The purpose of this posting is to examine what text offers most people, then compare this with what previous attempts at text analyzing software have tried to do, and failed, as well as arm you with questions to consider when evaluating options.

Text tells the story.

Text tells us the story. A good story lays out the ideas and characters with their attributes. We read the text to set the scene – to explain the situation that we have dropped in on. It is like the first episode of a TV series. After that, we read on to see how the characters and ideas interact. There are changing relationships.

A survey or report or set of online product reviews are no different. We need to see what issues, products or services are front-of-mind for the authors or responders, what attributes they assign to these issues and products, and how they see the relationships. We then move on to start answering questions and fixing problems. This is how we apply the knowledge gained.

In concrete terms:
1.    We discover the concepts of the situation from the text.
2.    We discover the explanations, or insights, from the text.
3.    We can then act on these insights to alter the system.

Step 1 is important and neglected. You cannot understand the situation without understanding the background ideas.

You cannot understand an IT textbook using the concepts from political science. You would struggle to paint a seascape with a palette suitable for a childs cartoon. Unfortunately, this problem is insidious and leads to mistakes that we fail to notice. Why? Because if we naively analyze some data with a set of ideas that we know well, and we fondly expect will apply to the data, we may never see that we are missing a quite different perspective.

Most text analyzing systems will not automatically extract a clear set of the concepts and actors that characterize the text. Systems that come with predefined sets of categories, dictionaries and entity lists are a menace. You cannot risk interpreting your data filtered through an understanding created by someone who is not familiar with your data and your situation, even if the answer looks simple and neat. This leads to

Question 1: Does the system’s set of categories, entities, and concepts reflect a real understanding of my data and my situation?

Some systems use predefined categories that are manually tuned by the vendor during pre-sales. The vendor’s consultants will sift through your data and construct extensive lists of terms, pattern matchers and possibily rules. The analysis will then look okay at that time, but things change. New issues will arise in your business, and the terms and entities will change over time. This leads to Question 2:

Question 2: How much time and effort did the vendor invest in tuning the category dictionaries, rules, and entity lists before go-live? When your data inevitably changes, can you afford to feasibly repeat this process to maintain the fidelity of your analysis?

If the analytics system does not use predefined categories, it may use document or word clustering. Many such systems do not produce clear or validated concepts. Remember that for easy and regular use, the discovered patterns of meaning need to be stable and clear. Don’t be fooled by people who say that this sort of system works because it looks attractive and even compelling. There are ways to check whether discovered term clusters are real measures of meaning, or whether they are wasting your time. Here are some questions for vendors who offer term or document clustering or other concept map solutions:

Question 3: If the product uses document clustering: how does the system scale with vast numbers of documents? If a document contains several different ideas, can it be in two topics at once? If I cut up the same documents into different chunks, would the pattern of clusters be similar? Text content isn’t always organized in predictable ways, so this is an important set of questions.

Question 4: If I take two different documents either by different authors or in different languages, would the discovered patterns of meaning look similar between the two? Multinationals – think about this if you want a consistent, true view of your customer comments.

Step 2 is almost totally ignored. Text information can tell you a story so you can improve business performance—with customers, with marketing. What else would you really want to do with it?

Quantitative, categorical, and numerical data mining is really good for establishing metrics and testing to see if pre-defined metrics change. Great. Do this.  It is really good for predicting whether a pre-selected situation is matched, such as customer churn probability.

But don’t forget that analyzing text comments from customers or competitor product reviews on the other hand excels at telling you what is happening. Because text is human communication – that is what it is for. So why waste this extremely valuable and rich source of intelligence?

Think of it this way. If your metrics show your sales are rising, everyone feels great. If your metrics show you your results are falling off a cliff, how do you work out how to fix the system? This is the feedback you need for controlling a system. Your text data will tell you how to turn things around faster and more accurately than almost any other source of management information.

Unfortunately, this is where most text analytics systems fail or don’t even bother. Here are some other questions:

Question 5: Does the system suggest chains of meaning which are well supported by the data, and which I can understand and explain to a manager? In other words, is it an explanatory model?

Question 6: Can I test hypotheses (educated guesses) based on the perspective of the customer?

Question 7: How does a simple list of terms tell me much about the reasons for what is happening, without having to do a whole lot of guessing or having to read large amounts of text after all?

Step 3: Set your bar high and expect an automatic, systematic and scalable system that can enable unstructured textual information to become a real enterprise asset—good for uncovering new customer insights, new product ideas, and business process improvements that were previously unachievable. And now act on what you find!

I hope this helps. People are still doing a whole lot of writing and talking trying to tell you things. I think we need to listen more carefully, understand what they are saying and then act thoughtfully.

By Andrew E. Smith

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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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Leximancer Adds Strategic Partner in OrbisIP Limited

Posted on October 24, 2008. Filed under: Leximancer, News | Tags: , , , , , |

Leximancer Adds Strategic Partner in OrbisIP Limited

Innovative customer insight software made available to government and military customers

BOULDER, Colo. – (Oct. 21, 2008)- Leximancer, a Customer Experience Management (CEM) and analytics software development company, today announced a partnership with OrbisIP Limited, a technology transfer and licensing company that focuses on Information and Homeland Security Intellectual Property (IP) Patents and Products, expanding Leximancer’s growing customer base to include government and military sectors. The partnership comes as Leximancer recently launched its SaaS-based The Customer Insight Portal that analyzes customer feedback and unlocks critical insight.

“This strategic partnership is an exciting opportunity to leverage the impact of Leximancer software,” said Neil Hartley, Leximancer CEO. “In a time of heightened concerns about security, it is imperative that government and military personnel be able to fully analyze the data they have and find new and actionable insight-a service that is unique to our product.”

Leximancer’s software enables users to find meaning in a variety of places, including textual information on the Web, in blog posts and social media sites, or nearly any textually-based document. The software pulls out from unstructured text the main themes, ideas and relationships between words and turns this into meaningful insight for the user.

The partnership with OrbisIP will help Leximancer expand its customer base into the international security market, including government and military users. OrbisIP is a recognized leader in the information and homeland security fields and will provide Leximancer with the necessary tools to expand into this field.

“We have seen firsthand that this technology can help organizations to make sense of a wide and complex array of data sets and produce analysis quickly and accurately,” said Pete Jaco, OrbisIP CEO. “A big part of our jobs at OrbisIP is to identify and help distribute emerging technology that can help meet security targets and objectives within a nation’s security industries.”

About Leximancer
Leximancer’s patent-pending software platform is available through OEM partners or through www.thecustomerinsightportal.com. It allows customer satisfaction, brand management and competitive intelligence professionals to automatically extract the root causes of customer attitudes from Internet communications such as blogs, Web sites and social media, as well as the vast amount of data currently locked within the enterprise in the form of e-mails, service notes, call center notes, voice transcripts and survey feedback. Through its intuitive concept discovery, cause-and-effect analysis, thesaurus and search functions, Leximancer is the only solution that delivers deep insight into customer attitudes by objectively identifying “unknown unknowns.” For more information, visit the Web site, www.leximancer.com, or the blog, http://www.customerinsightblog.com.

About OrbisIP
OrbisIP is the first company to focus exclusively on the technology transfer and licensing of Information and Homeland Security Intellectual Property (IP) Patents and Products. OrbisIP is building international partnerships with universities, research laboratories and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) that specialize in producing innovative security technology and research, and assisting these partners in the licensing and distribution of their technology to global licensors of Infosec Patents and Products. OrbisIP Limited has been founded with the support of strategic investment party Imprimatur Capital.

# # #

CONTACT:
Elaine Ellis
Metzger Associates
eellis at metzger.com
303-786-7000

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Powerfully Simple

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

Two concepts you rarely see linked in software reviews are “powerful” and “easy to use,” but those concepts are the first impressions of everyone who has put The Customer Insight Portal through its paces.

Fern Halper is the latest to be surprised by the powerful simplicity of the Portal and the speed of reaching actionable insight. Fern discovered that even a new user can dive in, load data either from internal documents or the Web and in minutes have actionable insight at your fingertips.

“The portal is very easy to use. You simply login and then tell the system the files you would like to analyze. You can upload internal documents or specify the URL(s) you would like to mine. Once the analysis is complete, you can then drill in and out of the concepts and highlight the pathways between concepts.”

And dive in she did. Fern explored several articles on the current financial crisis to see what new insight she could uncover, and using the Pathway Analysis tool quickly found an unexpected link.

“I was interested to understand the ‘seats’ concept and its relationship to the economic crisis, so I highlighted the path. In a separate window all of the articles related to the concept path are highlighted. It then became obvious from the articles, that given the financial crisis, the democrats stand to gain more seats in the senate and lock up a 60 seat filibuster proof majority.”

What kind of insight and unexpected links do you think The Customer Insight Portal can unlock for your business?

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Leximancer CEO Neil Hartley Interviewed by B-eye Network

Posted on October 13, 2008. Filed under: Leximancer, News | Tags: , , , , , , |

Leximancer recently was featured on the industry renowned B-eye Network. Mary Jo Nott, executive editor of the B-eye Network interviewed Leximancer CEO Neil Hartley about Leximancer’s growth and technology.

The pair talked about short- and long-term business strategy, current and future trends in the market place and the importance of being able to extract actionable customer insight from social media – including specifics of what Leximancer is doing to address this customer need.

Bottom line is that many text analytics options are both cost-prohibitive and time-prohibitive. According to Hartley:

“First, it needs to be usable by a business person who can pick it up and get to usable set of results extremely quickly. Second, it needs to be able to process masses of data regardless of the language or the source where the data is coming from and without the need for any setup. And it needs to go the extra mile in getting to the root cause of problems – particularly in that customer insight space, just listening or knowing what customer attitudes are is not enough. You need to get to the why your customers are happy or why they are unhappy, so you can make the insight actionable. After all, the link between cause and effect is not always a straight-forward, one-to-one connection.”

To learn more, please join us for a live Web demo. In the meantime, send us your data and we will help you uncover valuable customer insight specific to your business.

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A-Twitter About Sprint

Posted on October 6, 2008. Filed under: Customer Insight Portal | Tags: , , , |

Sprint, known for its lackluster customer service, recently came in last on the latest JD Power wireless service study. Its CEO has publicly voiced that Sprint is beginning new initiatives to get its customer service program back on track. To accomplish excellent customer service and identify actionable customer insights, Sprint will need to listen to its customers in all of the ways they communicate including social networks, Twitter and blogs.

Twitter, a microblogging service, serves as an immediate pulse for any company on how their customer service teams are performing. As a company, Sprint can monitor Twitter for every mention of their company to get a live stream of feedback that will be paramount to their recovery. What’s more, they can follow the lead of Frank Eliason and his Comcast team and respond to concerns in real time with official company Twitters.

Conceptual Map of Feedback on Sprint on Twitter

Conceptual Map of Feedback on Sprint on Twitter

Leximancer searched for mentions of Sprint on Twitter within 50 miles of five major cities – New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington DC. Analyzing this data on The Customer Insight Portal allows users to identify central themes and concepts in the ways its customers are talking about Sprint on Twitter.

The Theme Hate is Closely Correlated With Feedback From NYC

The Theme Hate is Closely Correlated With Feedback From NYC

The first red flag is the theme hate, which is closely correlated to the Twitters from New York City. Users from New York City mention “I truly hate sprint right now” and “boooo sprint booo!! I hate them!!”

For Sprint, this presents an excellent opportunity to continually monitor Twitter to see if feedback improves over time and to compare feedback from month to month.

The Theme Service

The Theme Service

Service is a major theme for Sprint on Twitter. Using the Query feature on The Customer Insight Portal, we find that comments run the gamut (examples below).  The quote on Heroes that “There’s no service here.  I should have gone with Sprint” received multiple mentions showing Sprint’s product placement helped create buzz.

  • I pretended it was a joke.  Sprint service is not so good in my personal experience, though that was 6 years ago.
  • in Sprint customer service time, 1 min really means 10 mins. i’ve been on hold for 20 mins, he came back on 2 x to say 1 min, plz
  • my contract ran out in May. If not, I’d have claimed I was moving to middle of Nevada, where there’s no Sprint service.
  • “there’s no service here.  I shoulda gone with sprint”- quote on heroes.
  • Live chatting with a Sprint customer service rep. This is a nice
  • Sprint takes wireless service to the max in Baltimore ( Leslie Cauley/ USA. . http://tinyurl.com/3pfgom (expand)
  • working to save sprint customer service from going down the drain.
Sprint Launches a New Service

Sprint Launches a New Service

In addition, Sprint’s launch of the XOHM Wimax service in Baltimore showed up as a major theme speaking to the buzz the launch received.

So cutting through the noise with The Customer Insight Portal makes it easy to uncover both issues and praise—and provides an opportunity to get to specific customers to respond in an engaging way for the benefit of the brand.

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In the News: The Customer Insight Portal

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

Today marked the formal launch of The Customer Insight Portal, and the news was picked up around the Web.

Forbes.com, Marketwatch.com, Morningstar.com, Reuters, Yahoo! Finance and others picked up the story of how The Customer Insight Portal is the “game changer” for companies looking to gain insight into their customers

The full press release:

“Game Changer” Customer Insight Portal Launched
Powerful Leximancer software available as Software as a Service (SaaS)

BOULDER, Colo., Aug 14, 2008 – Leximancer, a Customer Experience Management (CEM) and analytics software development company, today announced the launch of The Customer Insight Portal, a Web-based Software as a Service (SaaS) that delivers insight to not only what customers are saying, but why they’re saying it.

“The Customer Insight Portal is a game changer for the way companies seek to understand their customer attitudes and behaviors,” said Neil Hartley, Leximancer CEO. “It allows virtually any organization or individual user to easily gain insight into the root causes of customer opinion and feedback. Our state-of-the-art market intelligence software has been proven on the desktop world-wide and now we are making it available through The Customer Insight Portal.”

For consumer-focused organizations, The Customer Insight Portal gives marketing professionals, brand managers, competitive intelligence and customer experience managers the ability to make critical decisions based on factual data regarding customers’ thoughts and feelings toward their brand, products or service. The Customer Insight Portal goes multiple steps beyond traditional text analytics by employing a rich variety of scientific methods to analyze call center notes, survey data, e-mails, documents, blogs, social media and Web sites. This enables Leximancer to uniquely provide insight into the root causes of customers’ attitudes and actions, allowing companies to determine not just what people think of them, but also why.

“The Customer Insight Portal lets business people explore and automatically find meaning, and identifies structured relationships between the key ideas or issues that are important to customers – uncovering information that was previously hidden,” said Chris Westfall, Leximancer vice president of business development. “From the people that have already used the portal, they’re saying that it provides previously unknown, actionable insights, which is great validation of what’s possible.”

The Customer Insight Portal provides deep insight without the need for set up, which means that analysis is provided without previous knowledge of the information under investigation. Users of the Customer Insight Portal can upload the data and the analysis is complete in the time it takes to make a pot of coffee. Because there is no selection of terms before getting started the results are unbiased. Companies find out what is there, not just what they think should or might be there.

About Leximancer
Leximancer’s patent pending software platform allows customer satisfaction, brand management and competitive intelligence professionals to automatically extract the root causes of customer attitudes from Internet communications such as blogs, Web sites and social media, as well as the vast amount of data currently locked within the enterprise in the form of e-mails, service notes, call center notes, voice transcripts and survey feedback. Through its intuitive keyword discovery, cause-and-effect analysis, thesaurus and search functions, Leximancer is the only solution that delivers deep insight into customer attitudes by objectively identifying “unknown unknowns.” For more information, visit http://www.leximancer.com or http://www.thecustomerinsightportal.com.

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Leximancer In the News

Posted on August 12, 2008. Filed under: Customer Insight Portal, Leximancer | Tags: , , , |

Leximancer has started its expansion from Europe and Australia into the North American market – and that move is gaining attention as businesses realize the power of the software, the great possibility of partnerships with OEMs and the ease and depth of The Customer Insight Portal.

We were featured in the business section of the Boulder Daily Camera (a regional publication in Colorado). Business writer Alicia Wallace highlights why the Leximancer software and The Customer Insight Portal are such important business tools in today’s marketplace.

The article also talks about the features of Leximancer including language independence, the ability of the technology to deal with massive amounts of data and quotes Chris Westfall, Leximancer vice president for business development:

“The program, which is language-independent, analyzes the words, phrases and context from a broad spectrum of forums and pools that information together in a chart- and web-based form that allows the users to gain meaning from the content.”

Also noted in the article was the unique ability for Leximancer and The Customer Insight Portal to work with no prior set up. You upload the data and the analysis begins, in the time it takes to make a pot of coffee. And, the software delivers the root cause of customer problems or issues, giving insight in the “why” there is an attitude or behavior, not just “what” that attitude or behavior might be.

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