The problem any form of electronic-based communication has faced over the years is trying to understand the degree of anger or joy contained within it.
RightNow Technologies, a US-based customer relationship management service provider, is attempting to meet this challenge by launching a new version of a tool that helps companies to read their customers’ emotions, and thus develop an appropriate strategy to respond.
“Delivering an exceptional customer experience is all about understanding the customer,” says David Vap, vice-president of product management at RightNow Technologies.
Bar receiving a complimentary letter or, on the other end of the spectrum, an irate e-mail, chock full of expletives and nasty-looking emoticons, it is difficult for companies to know whether their existing or prospective customers have had a good experience with their product, explains Vap.
But equipped with the right information, companies now have the power to diffuse negative situations before they spiral out of control or to entice happy customers with new products and services.
With the launch of RightNow 8.2, companies can understand their customers’ moods, and can thus respond accordingly.
For example, Vap says that if you know a customer had a bad experience with your product or service, then you may want to send them a coupon for a discount in order to help ensure that you don’t lose that customer.
The technology works across all channels of communication, interpreting customers’ language on the phone, e-mail and chat. RightNow’s secret sauce is a recipe of sophisticated data crunching, which literally measures human emotions.
The tool performs a “natural language” analysis to determine whether someone is happy, upset, disappointed, etc, explains Vap.
The technology has the ability to pick up seemingly subtle emotions as well, which can alert a company to a potential problem or an opportunity.
For example, Vap says the tool can determine whether a person is interested in travelling by monitoring language in a chat room, and picking up on a question such as, “How do I get mileage credit?”
At its most advanced level, the tool could move beyond reading communications between a company and its customers that occur in a confined environment (eg in a chat room or e-mail), and track consumers’ opinions based on broader discussions and searches on the web.
RightNow, which has been in the CRM business for 10 years, is marketing the new technology across the travel industry.
Its 1,800 strong existing customer base ranges from online travel agencies and high-street tour operators to major network airlines.