The head of a major OEM in Canada used to make a point of reading the latest customer comments every morning to get a better sense of what the company’s customers were experiencing at the dealership and with the product. These days, Text Analytics tools can make verbatim customer feedback much easier to access and to use in day-to-day business decision-making. But how do you make the most of your investment in these tools and the time it still takes to interpret what you’re seeing?

You can develop word clouds, look at which words or phrases occur most frequently and understand customer sentiment, but if you can’t connect what you’re seeing to some hard data (either specific ratings or evidence of process in the customer experience), it’s difficult to decide how to act on unstructured feedback.

Here are some of the best practices we recommend for getting the most out of unstructured feedback from your customers response:

See text analytics as just one component of your investment in understanding your customers. It is not a silver bullet and you likely won’t be able to base decisions entirely on the output, no matter how sophisticated and fancy it may be. It’s part of the feedback equation.

Always try to capture unstructured feedback in context.This means linking open-ended questions or feedback opportunities to specific questions or question areas in surveys.Comments you receive will be much more valuable and actionable.

Look for common themes, not just specific words. A single word from word cloud will ultimately have less impact than the same word in the context of a customer comment.

Use customer comments when you talk to your staff about customer feedback.

Focus on what’s being said, not who said it.

Do not try to justify comments on the basis of knowing the customer and why they’re making the comment.

Don’t view customer comments in a vacuum as a separate part of your customer feedback – always keep the comments in context and view them as part of the core survey data.

Avoid delegating the entire job of capturing and analyzing customer comments to the most junior person. Senior management should be hearing the true voice of the customer directly.

Do not pin comments, especially negative ones, to employees in public. Even the positive ones are better communicated in private.

Here’s a comment we saw recently in a survey for one of our clients:
“Negotiating went well…BUT…the man who evaluated our (vehicle) trade-in NEEDS TO SMILE! He was not personable AT ALL!! Otherwise everything went fine.”

This illustrates just how the numbers in a survey can fail to capture a customer’s true feelings. The customer gave the dealership an excellent rating, but underneath was a missed opportunity. The comment points directly to an opportunity to coach not only the used car manager, but everyone in the dealership. While text analytics tools are very valuable in making sense of large amounts of unstructured data, this is an example of how powerful and actionable a single customer comment can be.

If we rely only on the KPIs derived from standard survey answers, we’re missing the true meaning of the customer’s response – especially if we factor in the growing phenomenon of score compression that makes it more and more difficult to act on the traditional CS numbers.




Enprecis Group Inc. is a leading designer, developer, and distributor of innovative enterprise-class daily tracking and Customer Experience Management (CEM) software dedicated to the automotive landscape. Foresight™ and Foresight for mobile are the foundations of Enprecis Group’s CEM platform, offering real-time, continuous issue resolution management to clients and customers around the world. With a dedication to innovation and forward-thinking product development, Enprecis Group continues its mission of building revolutionary CEM products for leading automotive brands worldwide. Enprecis Group is headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

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Enprecis Group Communication Team