How many emails stream into your business every day? How many times do the telephones ring? What about the daily inflow of live chat pop ups, social media messages, web comments and digital feedback forms?

Inbound communications are ebbing into your company with every tick of the clock, and it’s the work of multiple teams just to tread water in remaining responsive.

But being responsive is no longer enough. In the scrabble to give speedy service, we’re all failing to see the bigger picture. And the picture is this: ultimately, your flood of inbound communications carries the key to success.

Mine feelings, not just facts

Up to now, opinion mining has never been a major concern for companies. After all, it’s enough work just managing and maintaining informational customer data, without worrying about underlying sentiment.

Underlying sentiment, however, reveals how the public really perceives your brand. Buried within the torrents of text is your company’s true standing. Sure, you might be using your inbound data to keep things like contact details and sales up to date, but if you’re not harvesting the emotions portrayed within messages, you’re not seeing the wood for the trees.

Which is where sentiment analysis software comes into play.

The new kid on the block

For many years now, businesses have been investing serious money into data management tools. They’re pumping cash into platforms, people and a range of software services – all with the aim of handling their data more effectively.

Those efforts are understandable. More data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race, and by 2020, 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. Data volume is exploding, and so is its value.

But for all these investments, sentiment analysis tools remains uncommon and largely unheralded. Businesses are logging millions of interactions, but ultimately, they’re not capable of really listening to them.

In a nutshell

So, what actually is sentiment analysis, and why is it the next big thing? Well, simply put, sentiment analysis software extracts meaning from millions of messages. It analyses your incoming message streams for positive or negative feeling, so that you can measure overall public opinion on your brand.

This data intelligence is powered by text analytics. The software is algorithmic, and can be trained to identify and differentiate between the feelings portrayed within your inbound content. Capable of examining right down to syntactic effect and tone, sentiment analysis is the key to tapping the spontaneous voice of the customer, via social listening.

Not only are you better equipped to understand attitudes, trends, and your own online image – you’re also able to boost your predictive power by linking sentiment and behaviour models.

When you consider that retailers who leverage the full power of big data can increase their operating margins by 60%, you start to see how sentiment analysis is set to take the business world by storm.

Luxury, or necessity?

As an emergent new technology, sentiment analysis is still largely perceived as a luxury. Businesses have survived without it until now, and they’ll survive without it in the future, surely?

Well, that would perhaps be true if customer experience wasn’t now the key battleground for businesses. This year, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on customer experience, and 60% of consumers currently have higher expectations than they did in 2014. Of the companies that do deliver best in class customer experience, a clear majority of 70% use customer feedback.

Statistics aside, the plain truth is that the customer of today can use the internet to find any item, at a price they like, from virtually anywhere in the world. This ability to scour the whole world means that you can no longer sucker consumers with products or prices. Nor can competitors. To stand out from the crowd in the modern age, only exceptional service will cut it.

With sentiment analysis, businesses can do just that – turning data into actionable awareness.

Emotions mean money

Remember when Coca-Cola’s debranding “Share a Coke” campaign took the world by storm, and reinvigorated a declining soft-drinks market? What about when Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign went viral, and was viewed more than 114 million times, shared 3.74 million times, uploaded in 25 languages, and seen in 110 countries? What about when John Lewis’s Christmas advert was the thing we were all sharing with friends, family and colleagues over the festive period, instead of actual gift ideas?

Those adverts all share one thing in common: they reached us on an emotional level. The savviest businesses tap into the emotions of their audience, because they know that real success lies therein.

Ultimately, that’s why sentiment analysis software will soon be the topic on everyone’s lips, and that’s why forward-thinking companies are already pioneering its use. There’s a new trend on the tech scene, and within a few short years, sentiment analysis will do to big data what Google Translate did for all the world’s languages. Watch this space.