Bill Inmon on Hearing The Voice Of Your Customer

This post explores the importance of hearing your customer, and how to use sentiment analytics and other technologies to achieve this goal and avoid going out of business.

Fig 15 Drilling Down Negative
When the analyst drills down on the negatives being said about hotel room, the analyst finds what the issues with the hotel room were. In this particular case the issues with hotel room included the cleaning of the room, the view from the room, the balcony of the room, the shower in the room, and so forth.

Note that the issues are sorted in the order of the number of appearances made by the negative comment.


The value of listening to the voice of the customer is that management now knows EXACTLY what they have to do in order to improve the customer experience. The drill down process produces a very clear, very concise road map as to what must be done to improve the customer experience.

Fig 16 Negative
If there is any doubt as to what is being said, management can complete the drill down process and go all the way to the actual comment itself. The manager – if they are really interested – can go from the graphic that states that there are negative comments about the cleaning of the room to the actual comments themselves.

Fig 17 Comment

The example that has been shown is for hotels. The product of a hotel is the hotel room. Of course the analysis will be different for other industries, such as airlines, banks, insurance companies, auto manufacturers, and so forth. But the process followed will be the same.


While sentiment is of great value in understanding the customer, it is hardly the only thing of value in the public and private comments made by customers. In order to understand what other valuable information there is in a comment, consider a typical comment -

Fig 18 Typical Comment

When you look through the comment you see that there is a combination of sentence types. There are sentences that contain a statement of sentiment. Then there are sentences that contain simple statements, that do not express a statement of sentiment -

Fig 19 Sentiment Comment
Customer’s comments can be broken up into these two basic categories of sentences. In doing so the stage is set for a different kind of analysis. By examining non sentiment sentences, the analyst can tell what is on the mind of the customer. An entirely different kind of analysis can be done on customer mindset.

Fig 20 Textual
This then is how you capture customer comments – both private and public and turn the comments into an understanding of the voice of the customer.


An interesting question arises – is hearing the voice of the customer the same thing as the creation of a call center analysis?

The answer is that although there are many similarities between call center analysis and hearing the voice of the customer, they are not the same thing. There are some very real and some very distinct differences between the two types of analysis.

Fig 21 Call Center
The differences between the two types of analysis are these – call center analysis depends upon voice transcription technology. Voice transcription technology is not nearly as accurate as the written word. Because of the inaccuracies, doing sentiment analysis on call center data is a very risky proposition at best (and impossible to do at worst). Instead of doing sentiment analysis in call center analysis you can do “red flag” analysis, which is less dependent on the accuracy required for sentiment analysis.

Another difference is that people talk differently than they write. When talking, people are much more casual in their language. But when people write, they have to write in a much more structured, much more rigorous manner. Because of this difference in language, call center analysis is different from hearing the voice of the customer.

Fig 22 Voice
Forest Rim Technology is a Bill Inmon company. Forest Rim is located in Castle Rock, Colorado. Forest Rim is the original pioneer in the building, support, and usage of textual ETL.

Forest Rim assists customers in hearing the voice of their customer and in understanding and analyzing call center conversations.

To find out more about Forest Rim look at