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Chorus is a startup based in Australia which takes sentiment monitoring to another level by allowing customer support teams, marketing departments and PR professionals to analyse and prioritise the emails they receive. 

It helps internal structures and processes to focus on the negative issues first, meaning that customer experience is managed on an intelligent basis, according to severity. 

We caught up with Dave Trindall, one of the co-founders, to discuss sentiment monitoring, delivering excellent customer service, the problems with current email systems and, of course, Chorus itself. 

In one sentence, what is Chorus? 

Chorus is sentiment analysis for customer support emails.

What problem does Chorus solve?

How to make customers happy. Without Chorus, support departments can only respond to emails from oldest to newest. This is a missed opportunity to delight customers. Chorus can tell support reps exactly which issue needs responding to next by taking into account factors like sentiment, social influence, email topic and email theme.

Chorus also shows the results of the analysis in a dashboard for the support managers and marketing department for insights into the changing thoughts and feelings of your customer base over time. This means better product and service decisions, more effective marketing campaigns, and the ability to pre-empt bad social PR. 

Who is your target audience?

Our primary users are the customer support reps and customer support manager. Chorus can be used by customer support departments from any industry.

When and why did you launch it?

We launched Chorus in late 2010 after a pivotal discussion we had with an early prospective customer. That customer had a medium-sized support department receiving many emails each day, and occasionally important emails would "slip between the cracks" or an important issue would be ignored until much too late when received in peak periods. This caused high-churn and low customer satisfaction. We investigated the market and there was simply no solution for this problem.

This is because all customer support software creates workflow queues based on date, or, if you're lucky, keyword search. This is not enough.

We created Chorus to look at those basics like date and keyword, but then included more advanced analysis like sentiment analysis, social influence, topic and theme.

What were the biggest challenges involved in building Chorus? 

The main challenge we've had so far is keeping up with demand for infrastructure integrations. Chorus automatically synchronizes with existing support solutions, so once we had the core technology we started on the integration suite.

The integration suite allows Chorus to synchronize with software that customer support departments are already using to manage their tickets.

Can you explain how it works? [Image above]

The top portion shows sentiment of inbound emails (blue line first request, green line for first reply. This tells you how good your support department is at turning that first negative email in a positive follow up reply from the customer).

The bottom portion of the dashboard shows Trending Topics sorted by sentiment (e.g. In this example, repetitious tasks are more frustrating to customers than complaints about fees and charges) and the news feed.

The Chorus news feed works in the same way as the facebook news feed: It constantly searches the data looking for trends or important events it should alert you to.

In this example, Chorus has detected an increase in emails from customers experiencing natural disasters (a perfect candidate segment of customers to delight with a tailored message offering assistance) and an increased correlation between Frustrated (Inability) and negative sentiment for Prospective Customers (now you know that the main reason new customers are frustrated, or potential new customers are turning away, is because they are unable to complete a task, or use your product as intended).

Who is in the team and what does it look like?

The team is made of the original two co-founders (myself and Dave Kuhn), plus another six analysts in the classifications and analysis team.

How will the company make money?

Chorus is a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution, which charges by the month. The cost for our customers of using Chorus is far below the increased revenue seen by increasing customer retention, and pre-empting bad social press.

What is your pricing model?

Price is based on number of emails analyzed each month. We have a discounted entry-level plan that lets an entire support department get started for only $199 a month, including a 30 day money-back satisfaction guarantee, with no sign-up fees or minimum term.

Where would you like to be in one, three and five year's time?

The Chorus vision is to fix customer service. Making it really easy for companies to understand the meaning locked-up inside thousands of emails and social media interactions and always being able to answer the question "which customer needs my attention the most right now" is the first part of that vision. 

Jake Hird

Published 16 June, 2011 by Jake Hird

Jake Hird is Econsultancy Australia's Director of Research and Education. Follow him on Twitter and Google+, connect with him on LinkedIn or see what he's keeping an eye on via diigo

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