Home Blog Customer experience Digging for gold: Into the feedback mines

Digging for gold: Into the feedback mines

Let’s start with some context. According to Gartner, 80 to 90% of enterprise data is unstructured, and it’s growing at three times the rate of structured data. So, what does that mean? Well, it means we’re all sitting on a gold mine of data that’s becoming harder and deeper to dig into. This is especially true in the world of feedback. We ask our customers to tell us their stories, to say their piece in their own words. This turns into thousands, often millions of words, snippets, and comments, also known as verbatims that need tagging, categorizing, in short, that need to be understood so you can do something meaningful with them.

And it doesn’t all end with the written word. The data we have from our customers is richer than ever. It comes in all sorts, including audio and video, and leaves you with a colorful array that can be daunting to unravel. But fear not. That’s where open-text analytics shows its true worth. Like the excavators of the mining world, open-text tools let you separate the gems from the dust and extract the gold that makes your organization better and richer.

What is open-text analytics?

Open-text analytics solutions unlock the power of structured and unstructured data by turning it into insights you can understand and act on. So how does that happen? Well, several technologies come into play here: natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), even artificial intelligence (AI). We won’t go into detail for the purpose of this blog but suffice it to say these technologies have a knack for turning unpolished, dull, and useless rocks into diamonds that can add value to your business. Combine this with automation and business intelligence, and you have something that’s not just shiny but also incredibly powerful.

Now what kind of unstructured data can you apply this magic to? Lots! Here are a few examples from the feedback world that might spark a few ideas:

  •       Verbatims from surveys [the obvious low-hanging fruit]
  •       Emails to the complaints department
  •       Transcripts from audio files following calls to the call center
  •       Customer quotes on review sites
  •       Social media posts
  •       Transcripts of feedback videos through mobile apps
  •       And much, much more

With the right open-text analytics solution, you can extract not only topics but also the sentiments that are associated with it. One verbatim can cover three different topics, so you need to categorize how the customer felt about each one of them, as you can see in the example below.

And now all you need to do is mix these individual gems into your CX program, and you have a veritable treasure chest of insights at your fingertips.

The stages of open-text analytics

Convinced you need open-text analytics in your life? Wonder how to get started?

Forsta’s here to help. We designed a fool-proof, 5-stage process to get you mining for your own gold gems in no time.

  1. Define

    Because you can’t expect results if you haven’t defined what those results look like. So, spend time at the start outlining what outcomes your text analytics program should deliver.
  2. Design

    This is about the how. How are you going to reach the outcomes you just defined? Choose the right approach for your business, and don’t forget to include automated sentiment analysis.
  3. Model

    With the help of experts, you can apply a categorization model, or create one from scratch, using an approved framework as a foundation.
  4. Test

    Once you have your model, test it again and again. Make sure you take the time to review not only the categorization itself but the sentiment distribution of your data.
  5. Insights

    And now socialize. Data is only powerful in the hands of those who can do something with it. Set up a reporting template quickly so you can offer a comprehensive view from the strategic down to the tactical.

What are the key benefits of open text analytics?

As part of a Voice of the Customer program, open-text analytics give you the tools to go further and deeper than traditional feedback methods. You don’t need to be restricted by what you know. Text analytics opens a whole new world of insights.

Here are some of the key benefits that this technology can bring for you and your organization.

  1. Spotting new issues early

    You can’t ask about a problem if you don’t know it exists. The likelihood is that your customers are aware of it before you. By applying open-text analytics to customer verbatims, you can quickly pick up a recurring complaint linked to an issue faced by your customers. Fix it quickly and you’ll stop it becoming a bigger problem, a potential PR disaster and a reason for your customers to leave.
  2. Uncovering new trends

    A positive mirror image of the first benefit. By keeping your ears open to what customers say, you can spot trends you might have missed otherwise. Listen to what your customers want from you – what they care about – and spot trends early so you can deliver better to their expectations.
  3. Discovering innovative ideas

    This is about engaging your customers in your organization’s innovative process. Open-text analytics can pick up ideas and suggestions from your customers (and other stakeholders like employees). Do this for a regular free-text field, or actively ask your customers to drop suggestions in surveys or pop-ups to let them share their thoughts about innovations.
  4. Exposing the root causes of customer satisfaction (or dissatisfaction)

    A typical use of open-text analytics. This applies to the “Why” field that comes after the NPS, CSAT or CES scoring question. That’s where customers tell you the reason for their score and you can get a real mixed bag of topics, associated with positive and negative emotions. Open text is great at untangling all that and making sense of it.
  5. Prioritizing business improvements

    Last but not least, open-text analytics is key to prioritizing next best actions. A clearer understanding of customers’ thoughts and feelings, described in their own words in free-text form, leads to a clearer sense of priorities for the business. But only if you have the right tools to point you in the right direction.

    So don’t forget to include open-text analytics when it matters, at key moments in the customer journey. Why sit on a goldmine when you can dig for treasure? Especially when that treasure can yield great insights, guide your efforts, and deliver higher revenues.

How can Forsta help?

Forsta gives you access to leading-edge technology and world-class experts. Because that’s what it takes to get open-text analytics right. Forsta uses ultramodern statistical analysis techniques to define categories for verbatims and to assign the right sentiment for each category.

This approach is:

  • more adaptable to different styles of content
  • faster for high volumes of text (social media or surveys)
  • more forgiving of poor grammar or spelling
  • language agnostic, letting you analyze text in different languages easily

Forsta uses machine learning to organize, structure and categorize text of all kinds. Text analytics can order emails by topic, sort chat conversations by language or prioritize issues based on the volume and intensity of customer feedback.   

Forsta learns by listening, so you can do the same. 

“An extremely easy-to-use tool. It allows us to consolidate customer input from different channels. And helps us find the concrete root causes behind issues. We’ve gradually improved in a lot of small ways.”

Telia, after customer satisfaction rose by 30%


Day after day, quarter after quarter, year after year, organizations gather more data than they can possibly handle. Over three-quarters of it is unstructured, which becomes a real challenge for them to give it meaning and, well, structure. With customer feedback programs in place, companies often hoard a mountain of verbatims, audio and video transcripts, content from emails and web chats, online reviews, and social media posts.

With careful planning, accurate modeling, clever categorizing, and smart socializing, you can automatically mine this data and extract sparkling gems that add value and meaning for your business. All you need is a powerful open-text analytics tool integrated with your Voice of the Customer solution, and you’re well on your way to letting your customers’ words influence business decisions across your organization.

For more information, check out our:

“Consumers are in the midst of a conversation that isn’t ours. The race is on to grow ears to learn what they are saying.”

John Hayes 
Chief Marketing Officer, American Express

Want to know how you can really understand customer behavior? 

It’s the key to making the right decisions, at the right times. Especially when those times are turbulent. Check out our eBook Gather: From Feedback to Feelings

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