TeamSupport brings an emotional layer to customer service engagement with AI-based sentiment analysis

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B2B companies that offer customer service primarily through e-mail and chat can get a better sense of their emotional state through a sentiment analysis feature TeamSupport is introducing to enterprise versions of its software.

Dallas-based TeamSupport said the sentiment analysis functionality will be based on the natural language processing (NLP) technology used by IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence (AI) software. The integration will allow TeamSupport customers to scan the text a customer wrote based on a particular ticket they submitted, which will receive a score based on the positive or negative sentiments they expressed. The technology will allow companies to look at the sentiment of tickets associated with a particular customer as well as trends and patterns across their entire customer base.

“You can read an e-mail and interpret it in a handful of different ways,” TeamSupport Eric Harrington told B2B News Network. “You may have been trying to be quick, but the customer thought you were being rude.”

Adding sentiment analysis will open up training opportunities for customer service and support teams, Harrington said, by giving them a level of insight they haven’t had before.

“It can look at word structuring, sentence structuring, punctuation,” he said. “(The technology) can tell if (the customer) is satisfied, excited, polite, sad, impolite.”

The use of IBM Watson technology will mean companies might be able to ping managers when the customer sentiment is no negative it passes a certain threshold, Harrington said. This could make or break some critical relationships between certain firms, he added.

“If you’re a software company and you have a bad exchange and lose that customer, that could be a million dollar customer,” he said. “That’s the clear, obvious distinction in B2B versus a consumer environment.”

Right now TeamSupport is applying the IBM Watson technology at the ticket level, which will feed into a consolidated sentiment score based on all the tickets with which they’ve had a customer interaction. Over time, the company intends to apply sentiment analysis data into its Customer Distress Index, which analyzes ticket and response data to categorize levels of customer satisfaction at a company level, Harrington said.

Whereas sentiment analysis is already common in areas such as marketing, where it has been applied to gauge the tone of social media conversations, Harrington said TeamSupport’s use of the technology could contribute to a better overall customer experience.

“Front line support can be tough in a lot of industries,” he said. “What we’re pushing towards is proactiveness in customer communication.”

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Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.