Adele Sweetwood

2月 012017
 

Each day, the SAS Customer Contact Center participates in hundreds of interactions with customers, prospective customers, educators, students and the media. While the team responds to inbound calls, web forms, social media requests and emails, the live-chat sessions that occur on the corporate website make up the majority of these interactions.

The information contained in these chat transcripts can be a useful way to get feedback from customers and prospects. As a result, the contact center frequently asked by departments across the company what customers are saying about the company and its products – and what types of questions are asked.

The challenge

Chat transcripts are a source for measuring the relative happiness of those engaged with SAS. Using sentiment analysis, this information can help paint a more accurate picture of the health of customer relationships.

The live-chat feature includes an exit survey that provides some data including the visitor’s overall satisfaction with the chat agent and with SAS. While 13 percent of chat visitors complete the exit survey (which is above the industry average), that means thousands of chat sessions only have the transcript as a record of participant sentiment.

Analyzing chat transcripts often required the contact center to pore through the text to identify trends within the chat transcripts. With other, more pressing priorities, the manual review only provided some anecdotal information.

The approach

Performing more formal analytics using text information gets tricky due to the nature of text data. Text, unlike tabular data in databases or spreadsheets, is unstructured. There are no columns that dictate what bits of data go where. And, words can be assembled in nearly infinite combinations.

For the SAS team, however, the information contained within these transcripts were a valuable asset. Using text analytics, the team could start to uncover and understand trends and connections across thousands of chat sessions.

SAS turned to SAS Text Miner to conduct a more thorough analysis of the chat transcripts. The contact center worked with subject-matter experts across SAS to feed this text information into the analytics engine. The team used a variety of dimensions in the analysis:

  • Volume of the chat transcripts across different topics.
  • Web pages where the chat session originated.
  • Location of the customer.
  • Contact center agent who responded.
  • Duration of the chat session.
  • Products or initiatives mentioned within the text.

In addition, North Carolina State University’s Institute for Advanced Analytics began to use the chat data for a text analytics project focused on sentiment analysis. This partnership between the university and SAS helped students learn how to uncover trends in positive and negative sentiment across topics.

The results

After applying SAS text analytics to the chat data, the SAS contact center better understood the volume and type of inquiries and how they were being addressed. Often, the analysis could point areas on the corporate website that needed updates or improvements by tracking URLs for web pages that were the launch point for a chat.

Information from chat sessions also helped tune SAS’ strategy. After the announcement of Windows 10, the contact center received customer questions about the operating system, including some negative sentiment about a perceived lack of support. Based on this feedback, SAS released a statement to customers assuring them that Windows 10 was an integral part of the product roadmap.

The project with NC State University has also provided an opportunity for SAS and soon-to-be analytics professionals to continue and expand on the analysis of chat transcripts. They continue to look at the sentiment data and how it changes across different categories (products in use, duration of chat) to see if there are any trends to explore further.

Today, sentiment analysis feeds the training process for new chat agents and enables managers to highlight examples where an agent was able to turn a negative chat session into a positive resolution.

SAS Sentiment Analysis and SAS Text Analytics, combined with SAS Customer Intelligence solutions such as SAS Marketing Automation and SAS Real Time Decision Manager, allow marketing organizations like SAS to understand sentiment or emotion within text strings (chat, email, social, even voice to text) and use that information to inform sales, service, support and marketing efforts.

If you’d like to learn more about how to use SAS Sentiment Analysis to explore sentiment in electronic chat text, register for our SAS Sentiment Analysis course. And, the book, Text Mining and Analysis: Practical Methods, Examples, and Case Studies Using SAS, offers insights into SAS Text Miner capabilities and more.

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Editor’s note: This post is part of a series excerpted from Adele Sweetwood’s book, The Analytical Marketer: How to Transform Your Marketing Organization. Each post is a real-world case study of how to improve your customers’ experience and optimize your marketing campaigns.

tags: Adele Sweetwood, contact center, live chat, SAS Text Miner, sentiment analysis, text analytics, The Analytical Marketer

Using chat transcripts to understand customer sentiment was published on Customer Intelligence Blog.

1月 112017
 

One of the most powerful sales tools is often something that you can’t foresee or control. Even though customers read papers, visit websites and talk with a salesperson, another factor can make all the difference – a referral from a friend or coworker.

Think about the way that sites like Google, Yelp and others have changed the way consumers make everyday decisions, such asadvocacy choosing restaurants. You can go to the restaurant nearest you or one you’ve visited before. Or, you can try something new by looking at your smartphone to see which dining spot has the highest ratings or the best reviews. Why? People show a preference for the personal experience of those in their networks.

For business-to-business software companies like SAS, the impact of customer advocacy is critical. These influencers can set the tone and provide a consistent positive influence throughout the customer journey. Unfortunately, this type of advocacy is tough to measure and hard to predict.

The challenge: Acquisition and retention

Although a customer may be a single record in your database, she doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Each contact has a connection to others within her business or the industry. Understanding and fostering good relationships can have a huge effect on your retention and loyalty efforts.

During our effort to map a modern customer journey, the SAS marketing team focused on different phases of this cycle. The customer journey contained these phases:

  • Acquisition – which includes need, research, decide and buy.
  • Retention – which includes adopt, use and recommend.

On the retention side, the team knew from anecdotal evidence that some SAS customers were advocates of the technology and for the company overall. In fact, several SAS regional offices and divisions had data confirming the idea that finding and rewarding high-value customers led to big returns. What was lacking was an overarching program for getting customers to advocate for SAS technology.

For a larger effort, the team assessed the customer behavior data, examining those who attended events, provided feedback on surveys, sent ideas to R&D, and generally stayed engaged with the company. From a revenue standpoint, those people were often the ones advocating for the use of new SAS technologies or the expansion of existing deployments.

What was less understood was the reach of these influencers and how their activities affected others. With that information, SAS could identify more advocates and nurture that behavior.

The approach: Identify advocates by scoring BFF behaviors

The SAS marketing team members started by digging into the data that they had on customers. They first identified a segment of the top accounts that contained more than 20,000 individual contacts and the team began to examine the behaviors exhibited by that group including:

  • Live event attendance.
  • Website traffic.
  • Technical support queries.
  • Customer satisfaction survey data.
  • Customer reference activity.
  • Webinar attendance.
  • White paper downloads.

This information provided a better understanding of the range of activities that customers undertake. However, simply cataloging the behaviors wasn’t enough. The team applied a scoring model for different types of interactions. This allowed the team to weight certain activities, helping to further identify which customers were the best advocates—“BFFs” (best friends forever) as the marketing team began to call them.

The results: Advocacy campaigns that matter

SAS marketing used the information to create a model that is the foundation for customer-focused data exploration. The initial effort helped shed light on how influential advocates can shape retention and additional sales. As a result, sales and marketing worked together to highlight BFFs within key accounts in an ongoing effort to foster better relationships with those key individuals.

Initiatives to locate and encourage advocates used the model to identify the likely candidates within customer organizations. The team then designed campaigns and outreach efforts to give these advocates the tools to foster and expand their influence.

The marketing team now focuses on advocacy campaigns that target potential BFFs. The goal is to build more SAS advocacy during the recommend phase of the customer journey.

Acquisition and retention campaigns begin by doing advanced segmentation in SAS Marketing Automation. Campaign workflows are created that are backed by analytics, ensuring that communications to customers are appropriate and relevant. Through the collection of both contact and response history data, attribution can be performed in SAS Visual Analytics that allows marketers to see correlations and cross-promotion opportunities.

Interested in learning how to leverage SAS Marketing Automation techniques for advanced segmentation? Explore our SAS Marketing Automation: Designing and Executing Outbound Marketing Campaigns and Customer Segmentation Using SAS Enterprise Miner course offerings.

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Editor’s note: This post is part of a series excerpted from Adele Sweetwood’s book, The Analytical Marketer: How to Transform Your Marketing Organization. Each post is a real-world case study of how to improve your customers’ experience and optimize your marketing campaigns.

tags: Adele Sweetwood, customer advocacy, customer analytics, customer experience, customer journey, marketing automation, sas enterprise miner, sas marketing automation, segmentation, The Analytical Marketer

Customer advocates: Finding your customers’ BFFs was published on Customer Intelligence.

5月 132010
 
In the past eighteen months as a marketing organization, we have spent a significant amount of time realigning strategy, reallocating resources, and in some cases hiring new marketing employees. So what’s driving this recent hiring and shifting? The dramatic changes and the rate of change that is happening in the field of marketing.

This is not a surprise to most of you. ‘Marketing’, as a concept and discipline, is evolving a new meaning—with new channels, new approaches, new drivers, and new expectations. And, marketing being marketing, there’s no shortage of new ‘buzz words’ to go along with it… All this ‘new’ makes life tough for marketers and marketing managers alike. How do you hire, and get hired, in this environment?

It’s clear that marketing managers must look for evidence of different skills and experience, when evaluating applicants. But just what to look for is open to debate. Recently I came across a blog post from Kathleen Schaub, Vice President of Marketing, Sybase, which succinctly captures this in a way I can agree with. Of the eight skills mentioned in Kathleen’s post, “Eight Skills for Tomorrow’s Marketers”, the following six, taken almost directly from her post, are vital for our B2B tech environment:

  1. Sales Skills: Now that 100% of B2B buyers repeatedly touch the web (both vendor's sites and those of 3rd parties) throughout the buying process, marketing must stay active from "cold to close". No more filling the top of the funnel and passing leads off to sales.

  2. Social Media Skills: It's no secret that social media dramatically changes the buyer-seller-influencer dynamic. But only those actively participating in social media tangibly appreciate the differences between old-style one-way media conversations and the group interactivity.

  3. Journalism/ Storytelling Skills: With buyers getting the majority of their information from the web and with sales enablement increasing in priority, there's no end to the need for juicy, targeted content. And, that storytelling also comes into play in campaign design.

  4. Process Design Skills: Marketing automation is just beginning to penetrate its market. Forrester says it's less than 5% adopted. As anyone who has been part of a re-engineering effort can attest, it's not the automation that increases productivity. It's the process changes that automation enables and enforces. Deploying marketing automation will require skills such as process modeling, project management, the ability to train and manage change, as well as ease with technology.

  5. Data/ Analytics Skills: Technology captures and makes available enormous amounts of data about buyer and seller behavior.

  6. Domain Expertise: Customers don't care about our products. They care about themselves and their problems. Building a bridge between our products and the customer's care-abouts requires knowledge of both realms.

To this great list I would add these three ‘softer’ skills that are critical…including:

  1. Collaboration AND exceptional communication—NOT mutually exclusive. On every job posting, you will see that ‘communication’ skills are a must… Communication has a different meaning for marketers in our world. While the traditional communication skills are needed, they need to be supplemented with an intense focus on collaborating through effective communication. There are no ‘one-man/woman bands’—only full orchestras with very clear objectives and constant interaction.

  2. Creativity/Innovation—reaching for the next idea. The term ‘creativity’ is no longer just for the agencies or the designers. Today’s channels and digital approaches enable and encourage creativity at all stages of marketing and the marketing process. Creativity is at the heart of innovation, which is not only required, its rewarded.

  3. Leadership—taking risks, driving change, & building trust. At a recent conference a panelist, Dr. Linda Combs, former US Government official with five presidential appointments, talked about ‘leadership at every level’ to fully empower an organization’s success. Today’s marketers, regardless of their role, have an unique opportunity to demonstrate leadership in their field and across their business for maximum impact.

While not exhaustive, this list of skills confirms that we are no longer looking for traditional marketing skills. Marketing managers need evidence of different skills and experience—and the good marketers will leave a well lighted trail, to make sure such evidence is easy to find.