AWS and Qualtrics offer new ways to gauge customer sentiment


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Enterprises increasingly want to know not just what customers are buying, but how they feel, and vendors such as Amazon Web Services and Qualtrics, SAP’s experience management subsidiary, are making moves to capitalize on that desire.

AWS has expanded its voice transcription service with new APIs that attempt to report not just what someone said, but what they meant and, using sentiment analysis, how they felt about it, too.

A week earlier, Qualtrics agreed to buy conversational analytics specialist Clarabridge for $1.1 billion in a play to automate how Qualtrics determines how customers and employees feel. The Clarabridge acquisition fills a gap in Qualtrics’ capabilities that Forrester analyst Faith Brown identified back in 2018, when SAP bought the online survey company for $8 billion. “Clarabridge, when it comes to text analytics, is better than Qualtrics,” she said back then.

Whereas Qualtrics asks employees or customers explicitly, in surveys, how they feel about a particular issue, Clarabridge attempts to glean this implicitly from what they say in calls or write on social media or in emails, using sentiment analysis.

Sometimes referred to as opinion mining, sentiment analysis is the computational process of identifying someone’s attitude towards something based on what they say or write about it. At its most basic — as in AWS’s new service — it involves scoring the language used along a single axis, from negative to positive. Businesses have been doing that for over a decade to find out what employees really think.

More sophisticated techniques seek to classify the emotions expressed — anger, disgust. Clarabridge, and other companies like it, package that functionality up in an application that delivers reports that contact center workers or their supervisors can use to improve their interactions or training.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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