Unstructured Data: Start With an Open Mind


by Martha Brooke | August 12, 2011

80% of CEOs believe their CX is superior. Only 8% of their customers agree. That's a lot of bad Customer Listening. Let's raise the bar!
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We heard a great webinar from Bruce Tempkin at CXPA yesterday about how to gain customer insights from unstructured data. Bruce addressed the cavernous disconnect between limited, multiple-choice responses and the reality of complex customer thoughts and feelings.

What We’d Add

We’d add that when dealing with unstructured data (call recordings, free-form response cards, social media posts, etc.), it’s essential to start with an equally-unstructured approach.

All too often, we see verbatim analytic programs failing because structure is imposed too quickly. In other words, sentiment and specific words are defined as key indicators of the customer experience. This happens before the entirety of the customer experience has been dissected and understood.

The problem with picking indicators too early in this unstructured data mining process is that analysts will only see what they thought was important, not necessarily what is most important.

Furthermore, customer experience branding opportunities will most likely be overlooked. While the idea of ‘when to impose’ structure may seem academic or an ‘overly fine’ point, qualitative researchers will tell you, this is far from the case.

At Interaction Metrics we approach unstructured data with few predefined expectations. Instead, we allow the data (i.e. customers or experiences) to show their deepest meanings and implications. And this approach pays off with richer, more relevant insights in our verbatim analysis.

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