Text analytics - Getting emotional

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In addition to sentiment and effort, emotion is another useful tool when it comes to analysing the customer experience. Emotion is significant because it pertains to how customers feel, how companies can design better experiences with empathy and thereby promote customer loyalty in the business world.

Analysing emotions affords a unique lens into understanding customer experiences with companies. Emotions are fluid and complex; they can change quickly or linger for long periods of time. In fact, many distinct emotions may contribute to a single satisfaction score. Examining and understanding these emotions helps analysts empathise with their constituents and think about how specific actions or policies might result in certain feelings; however, emotions are not strictly useful for retrospective analysis. Companies often aspire to evoke certain emotions from customers as a result of an encounter with a brand or an interaction with a call centre agent. Understanding actual customer emotions and comparing them with desired emotions can help identify opportunities for business improvement and more customer-centric offerings.

Customers who are frustrated, confused, or angry are unlikely to spend more money with a business. In contrast, individuals who are pleased, delighted, or happy with an interaction are likely to recommend the organisation to their peers. Businesses that wish to design experiences that encourage a particular response must analyse emotions to do so successfully.

Emotions have been a key focus of academic research and inquiry for many centuries. Psychologists and philosophers have tried to classify the full spectrum of human emotions and the affecting factors. One of the most commonly referenced emotional frameworks was articulated by Robert Plutchik in 1980. His wheel of emotions is oriented around eight core emotions that are depicted as vectors of expressions ranging from mild to intense (i.e., from annoyance to anger to rage). According to his work, each emotion also has a corresponding opposite. Another useful reference model is W. Gerrod Parrott’s 2001 paradigm. It includes over 100 emotions that are tied to the six core emotions of love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, and fear. Parrott asserts that each of these also has a secondary and tertiary corresponding expression.

Not all emotions are equally valuable when thinking about customer experience. Certain emotions may be more or less actionable than others. For example, anger can be less specific than confusion or frustration. Other emotions such as grief or remorse are simply not as relevant for customer experience management as they might be when examining the human psyche. In this context, emotion analysis must be as specific and actionable as possible.

It is also useful to think of emotions as independent of, and orthogonal to, sentiment and effort and to recognise that emotions are not binary. Intuitively, we might think that some emotions are “good” and others are “bad”; however, for customer experience, it’s essential to separate the concepts of emotion and sentiment. Worry is not always bad, and surprise is not always good. The intersection of different semantic dimensions (i.e., sentiment, emotion, and effort) affords new insights into data that would otherwise be obscured when each is viewed as independent and binary. For example, a customer may be positively surprised at an unexpectedly low price or negatively surprised at a high one. A customer may worry about the safety of a product or express that he or she is no longer worried about those former safety concerns. We would recommend analysing emotions in a sentiment-insensitive manner.

As mentioned earlier, emotions are fluid. A single experience may encapsulate a handful of different emotions. A trip to the coffee shop may begin with anticipation before turning to annoyance when seeing a long queue. The same customer may experience relief when the queue moves quickly, worry when observing an incompetent barista, and joy when receiving the drink. None of these specific emotions accurately characterises the entirety of the experience. An organisation will benefit from analysing each emotional moment separately so that it can make informed decisions about each step of the customer journey.


About Fabrice Martin


Fabrice Martin is Chief Product Officer at Clarabridge. Fabrice brings to Clarabridge 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship, product management, marketing, and enterprise software sales, with specific domain expertise in SaaS/PaaS, data visualization/discovery, Business Intelligence, and analytics for marketing and contact center operations. Fabrice has participated as keynote speaker and industry evangelist at conferences and tradeshows across the US, Europe, and Latin America.

Prior to joining Clarabridge, Fabrice was Vice President of Program Management at MicroStrategy, responsible for the company's Cloud PaaS and award-winning SaaS initiatives, High Performance Programs, and Strategic Account relationships. Prior to MicroStrategy, Fabrice was COO and Co-Founder of MSIGHTS, an end-to-end marketing analytics solution provider. Prior to co-founding MSIGHTS, Fabrice was the lead product manager for Analytics Applications at Witness Systems, a workforce management platform provider acquired by Verint Systems.

Fabrice holds a Computer Engineering degree from ITESM CEM in Mexico and an MBA from Georgetown University.

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