Using AI to enable a more human understanding of voice of customer data

Sherlok’s AI-powered solution leverages IBM Watson technology to offer a better understanding of customer sentiment and pain points

There’s a lot of talk that AI is the future, but the capabilities are already being widely used and it’s not really that scary, according to CEO of technology company Sherlok, Elisa Adams.

“AI is the new solution to better understanding the voice of the customer and while it does takes expertise, it doesn’t have to be overly complex or hard,” she told CMO during a recent interview.

The Australian company’s latest tech offering to better understand the voice of the customer was born from an intersection of data science and human science, and leverages the power of IBM Watson. Adams said the ambition was to address the customer experience pain points being experienced in organisations.

“Sherlok was born out of both Sprout research, which is understanding human sciences and understanding human behaviour, as well as data scientist team, Max Kelsen,” Adams explained. “Our ultimate goal is about improving customer engagement through using AI to access that vast amount of data that we couldn’t before. That’s why we leverage IBM Watson to build and power an AI solution to not just better analyse the data, but truly understand what the sentiment and emotion is within the conversations occurring in a business.”

Sherlok’s AI-enabled solution scans emails, social media posts, contact centre calls, letters, forum complaints and comments and collates them into what it calls the 'customer nervous system'. By scanning the feedback in real-time, organisations get in depth insight as it organises and analyses the conversations in terms of themes, allowing analysis in size, tone and sentiment of real conversations.

“We believe success lies in the ability to adapt business thinking to human thinking, and there are millions of conversations happening in organisations, with signals happening all the time,” Adams said. “This could be via so many different channels such as calls, or social media, email or Web chat. Most of these conversations and data no longer fit into a row or column or spreadsheet that we may be used to.

“With the power of IBM Watson, Sherlok has been able to unlock that capability. Using this new capability, we can show the whole customer voice and tell the customer story, while prioritising what the customer wants to talk to us about, rather than questions we want to ask them. Then was can talk about what needs to be improved or redesigned and address any pain points.”

Adams pointed out structured data has always been relatively straight-forward to analyse. It’s the vast amount of unstructured data that organisations really need to tackle.

“Marketers are struggling to understand the voice of the customer and customer sentiment, but at the same time, the pressure is to put the customer at the centre of everything we do,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is redesign the strategy in a five-step system: Collect, ingest, analyse, report and monitor.”

Brisbane City Council and its voice-of-customer strategy

For a recent client, Brisbane City Council, Sherlok was able to inject 20 million lines of data to its voice of the customer strategy. The solution implementation won the company a BigInsights’ award for Best Industry Application of AI/Cognitive in November.

“Brisbane City Council came to us when it was looking to move beyond doing traditional research. While it had served them quite well, the team wanted to really grasp where the pain points were within the business,” Adams said. “We took data from call centres and within seven weeks we were able to organise and analyse that data in order to discover what customers were really talking about and the themes of the pain points within the business.

From the sentiment analysis, Sherlok could also identify what was driving anger, disappointment or frustration and find where the real hot spots were in the business.

“It helped Brisbane City Council be able to really redesign experiences to improve customer engagement,” she added. “Since then, we’ve scaled it up across more organisations looking for real-time feedback analysis on what their customers are talking about – from banks to insurers to media organisations, all with the view to be more customer focused.”

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