Friday, June 18, 2010

New ways to "research"

While it may not be “classic market research,” social media is bringing new ways for businesses to connect with customers for communication and feedback.

Interesting case in point – I was eating dinner at Tarka Indian Kitchen last night, and I saw that they had a well placed call to action to facilitate feedback from customers.

As my camera phone lacks the focus of an SLR camera, what you are looking at is a table tent that is found on each table.  On one side is the wine list, and on the side we’re looking at is an invitation to “Share Your Experience” by reviewing them on Yelp.  The final paragraph invites customers to submit their review immediately using Tarka’s free Wi-Fi connection.

With this open-ended approach Tarka is accomplishing several things:
  1. Driving user-generated content about their restaurant by encouraging reviews
  2. Gathering unstructured feedback from customers
  3. Advertising that they have free Wi-Fi
  4. Gathering point-of-purchase feedback from those that login at their table using their smartphone or laptop
Pushing customers to post reviews creates a wealth of data for Tarka.  What to do with this? One could use text mining (analyzing and categorizing unstructured data, e.g., reviews and other text), set up social media monitoring dashboards such as Yext or a myriad of other services that are starting to pop up and trying to take all of this user-generated-content (UGC) and structure it to help businesses make more informed decisions.

A tool we use to gain a topical level of understanding when looking at focus group data and other unstructured text is  With it we create word clouds where more frequently used words are displayed in larger font sizes and less frequently used words are displayed in smaller font sizes.  We have used this successfully to showcase brand attributes, political campaigns and many other areas. This can help identify broad perceptions and opinions people may have.  Below is the resulting word cloud when we feed Tarka’s Yelp reviews through it (note this is just a quick rundown – it has not been cleaned or edited of “nonsense” words such as conjunctions).

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