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Clarabridge Adds Alerts To Social Media Analytics

Updated customer sentiment monitoring software sifts through volumes of unstructured data to alert companies when they need to act on a Facebook or Twitter mention.

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Clarabridge is updating its software for tracking and analyzing customer sentiment to generate alerts and support more collaboration around analysis. The goal is to help companies do a better job of translating insight into operational action.

"Instead of providing you with a report, we want to sift through the data in that report for you and identify the statistically significant items," Clarabridge CEO Sid Banerjee said in an interview.

Clarabridge 5.0 was formally released Tuesday at a users conference in Miami. Clarabridge makes text analytics and sentiment analysis software that works with social media and other modes of communication, with a focus on customer experience. Clarabridge can also draw on corporate collaboration systems such as Jive Software's enterprise social networking for "voice of the employee" analysis, Banerjee said. However, the biggest demand is for integration with social shopping tools like Bazaarvoice Ratings and Reviews or Lithium's customer communities, he said.

Clarabridge provides software-as-a-service tools for enterprises and also licenses its technology to other customer data intelligence companies, such as survey analytics specialist Verint.

[ Where is the line between monitoring and analytics? Read The Many Styles Of Social Media Analytics. ]

The new release is focused on collaboration, since analytics often discover issues that the individual analysts cannot fix on their own, Clarabridge VP of marketing Sidra Berman said. "You frequently uncover things that require knocking down silos," she said. For example, a national retailer's professional analysts might uncover customer service complaints about stores in Atlanta that might require cooperation from a district manager to interpret the data properly and decide how to respond.

Clarabridge 5.0 provides tools for collaborating around an analysis. By configuring more proactive notifications, Clarabridge users might also configure the system to automatically send alerts to the correct regional manager--or product manager, or department head--making it more likely that the organization will take action immediately after detecting a specific problem or opportunity.

"You don't want to have to go into the tool to find a problem, you want the tool to proactively alert you when there's a change. If somebody just tweeted, 'I went into Kohl's and slipped and fell, so now I'm going to sue,' if you're Kohl's you want to know that," Berman said.

Enterprise organizations trying to do a better job of attending to the voice of the customer with analytic tools need that kind of automation, particularly in the era of social media, Berman said. "A lot of companies are just buried beneath tens of millions of pieces of unstructured data."

Although tools to detect broad sentiment toward a brand or a product are approaching commodity status, Clarabridge tries to distinguish itself by digging deeper into the meaning of a piece of textual content. Version 5.0 also promises to do more in terms of going further into root-cause analysis--tracing a surge in positive or negative sentiment back to its source.

Steven J. Ramirez, CEO of the analytics consulting firm Beyond the Arc, said he welcomes capabilities like automated alerts, but has misgivings about setting the expectation that good analysis can be delivered instantaneously, saying it still requires "a more thoughtful process." Software-driven alerts may tell you that you have a problem, but they probably won't tell you how to solve it, he said.

Diane Simmons, VP of customer experience for Fidelity Personal and Workplace Investing, gave a keynote presentation at the Clarabridge users conference on her firm's program for appointing "voice of the customer" advocates from among the ranks of call center agents and financial advisers. The first class of 40 advocates is serving out a one-year term and Fidelity plans to increase it to 65 people next year. One of the tools for those advocates to discuss what they're hearing and suggest product changes is an internal community run on Jive Software's enterprise social network.

In an interview following her presentation, Simmons said using Clarabridge to analyze the conversations occurring in Jive might be one way of improving that program--eventually. Fidelity is a Clarabridge customer, but just in the early stages of moving from a pilot project to implementation. Still, she is excited about the possibilities. "It's going to help us be a lot faster [in] synthesizing the information. Right now, we've got folks in India doing a lot of this manually," she said.

Clarabridge 5.0's ability to generate alerts could also be very useful, Simmons added, but having the technology and being able to put it to work are two different things. "The more real-time we can be, the more we have to be ready to act on real-time data." Fidelity has been working on making its organization more responsive to the input of the customer advocates. For example, the advocates raised an issue about a portfolio website design that customers really hated, but it still took a few weeks to get it changed, tested, and redeployed, she said. Automated alerts would further step up the pace "and we need to have the organizational readiness to be able to act on that," she said.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

The Enterprise Connect conference program covers the full range of platforms, services, and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. It happens March 26-29 in Orlando, Fla. Find out more.

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