As much as I believe in the power of social media data, I've always stood by the fact that if you just monitor social media, you'll only learn about social media. If you want to learn about your customers, you'll have to look at them across all of their varied communication channels.

With this concept in mind, today NM Incite and Clarabridge announced they are joining forces — and data — through an integration partnership. The strategic alliance gives customers the ability to feed NM Incite's social data through Clarabridge's text analytics platform, run sentiment analysis, and combine it with other voice of the customer (VoC) data. This partnership signifies two important areas for Customer Intelligence professionals:

  • Successful VoC programs require access to social media. Social media is important in the customer feedback space, but it's not the silver bullet. It is a series of channels to monitor consumer discussion and gain customer insight — but it's just one set of many areas to learn about customers. A complete picture of a customer comes from any of the fragmented ways they communicate — including surveys, chat transcripts, call logs, and more. Just yesterday my colleague Andrew McInnes — our resident VoC expert — published research on the importance of listening to social media as part of the customer feedback process. Check out Andrew's blog for more VoC coverage.
  • Social media data requires high-quality text analysis. For anyone with experience listening to online conversation, you already know this: Social media contains a lot of junk. Spam, duplicate items, irrelevant results, and more plague most listening tools. Many Customer Intelligence professionals will listen to find customer insight but then spend most of their time digging through the depths of online discussion. Although there are many variables at play, generally stronger text analysis tools will deliver more accurate and accountable insights. Clarabridge, with its history in the text analytics space, has experience managing unstructured text and will provide an added layer of analysis to NM Incite's social data coverage.

This announcement comes just a few days after more social data news — Kana's acquisition of Overtone (PDF warning). Overtone made an impressive transition from an enterprise text analytics vendor to a social-focused listening platform over the last few years and will give Kana a social-boost to its customer service software. The strength Overtone brings Kana, relates to both bullets above: Overtone has experience combining social and customer data, processed through its proven text analysis methodology.

For the rest of us, this means yet another busy week in the social data world. Congrats to Kana, Overtone, NM Incite, and Clarabridge. I'm looking forward to what happens next.