Monday, December 18, 2006

Tools to Measure Buzz and Distinguishing Customer Centric Marketing from Customer Experience Management

Sunday’s The New York Times had a long article on buzz measurement vendor Nielsen BuzzMetrics ( (“Brands For the Chattering Masses”, Sunday Business, December 17, 2006, page 1). Naturally this caught my eye since I had been pondering how to measure buzz for Customer Experience Management (see entry for December 8). I haven’t decided whether to do a detailed examination of this particular topic, but did take a quick pass through the Web sites of the major vendors. In addition to Nielsen BuzzMetrics, these include:

- Umbria (,
- Cymfony (,
- Brandimensions BrandIntel (,
- Biz360 (,
- MotiveQuest (, and
- Dow Jones’ Factiva (

If you're interested, the Cymfony Web site offers a free copy of a Forrester Research report on “brand monitoring systems”. Like most analyst reports, this provides some useful perspective but not much detail.

These products do more than simply to count mentions in the manner of Google Trends. They also characterize the mentions in terms of tone, hostility, etc., and give some sense of how brands relate to other concepts within the public consciousness. This calls for some serious text analysis technology, often supplemented by data visualization and/or substantial human effort. The technical and intellectual challenges are quite interesting, although tracking brands is less inherently exciting than, say, tracking terrorists (which uses many of the same techniques.)

Speaking of relationships among concepts, I did want to clarify one point from last week’s posts on the attitude of marketers towards customer centricity. When database marketers talk about being customer centric, they have in mind something very specific: planning contact streams that are optimized around the customer, as opposed to planning campaigns designed to sell particular products. Customer Experience Management is a vastly broader concept, involving all aspects of a company's operations.

Both ideas do share the notion of using customer value as the chief way to evaluate business decisions. Marketing could adopt customer-centric contact management without the entire company adopting customer experience management. To do this, marketing would have to overcome the political obstacles of a product-centric culture. That’s a tall order, but not insurmountable assuming the financial benefits can be proven.

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