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'Text Mining': Shortening the Distance Between You and Your Customers

by Sid Banerjee  |  
March 6, 2007

Businesses are constantly on the prowl for better information that will reveal what their customers truly want and feel about their products and services. Current tools, however, limit a company's abilities to accurately discern sentiment and, in turn, close the gap between its operations and its customers.

Surveys can help to collect sampled customer insights, but the biases inherent in sampling and directed questioning and the question/answer structure can limit natural responses and freely submitted opinions.

And although Web pageviews, abandoned pages, and sales transactions can be quantified and analyzed, doing so fails to provide a company with prospective information about customer intent, sentiment toward products and services, and underlying motivations or needs driving customer behavior.

In fact, customers already communicate their opinions, issues, and perceptions very clearly, but the information is sitting mostly idle both inside and outside the enterprise.

Customers dial call centers, submit emails and send letters to make their opinions known. Even more customers and prospects voice their opinions on newsgroups, blogs, customer and product forums, and on Web 2.0 sites.

The typical approach used by most companies—if they do any analysis of this content—is to pay a roomful of people to manually scour and react to the incoming information on an ad-hoc basis.

Ideally, corporations should be able to efficiently collect all of the online product reviews, call-center notes, survey verbatims, customer-relationship management (CRM) text fields, press releases, and other textual information available across and beyond an enterprise and quickly convert them into useful business intelligence.

There is a better way to shorten the distance between a company and its customers.

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Sid Banerjee is CEO and cofounder of Clarabridge, which enables Fortune 2000 and government customers to transform text into valuable information.

LinkedIn: Sid Banerjee  


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