It’s increasingly common for businesses to seek out feedback from consumers and their customers, both directly and indirectly. From email surveys to customer reviews to brand monitoring solutions, companies have no shortage of tools to try to find out what customers think of them.

The biggest challenge is collecting the data and analyzing it to gain actionable insights.

Mobile software company Rapide Communication is taking an interesting approach to the problem with a new product called Rant & Rave. It’s based on the premise that, to gain the most accurate data, feedback must be collected from customers as soon as possible after the experience feedback is being solicited for. According to Gartner:

The most important aspect of feedback is timing. Gartner has determined
that feedback collected immediately after an event is 40% more accurate
than feedback collected 24 hours after the event.

For multichannel companies, this means that feedback mechanisms have to be multichannel too. That’s where Rant & Rave comes in. It allows customers to provide feedback via the web, SMS, email or phone. Feedback collected by the system is aggregated and fed to a Sentiment Engine that Rapide developed in conjunction with the University of Birmingham. According to Rapide, its Sentiment Engine is capable of automatically scoring and categorizing feedback to produce a high-level overview that “clearly shows” what consumers think of the company’s products, services, etc.

National Express is one of Rant & Rave’s first users. To help it comply with a target set by the Department of Transport to respond to passenger feedback within 10 days, it placed a stickers in its trains promoting the SMS feedback facility.

Rant & Rave joins what is a very crowded reputation monitoring market. There are lots of companies providing solutions designed to provide similar insights. Rapide’s Rant & Rave is interesting since it’s taking a multichannel approach but it is by no means the only option out there and some companies don’t have a real need for multichannel feedback mechanisms.

While the use of various types of brand monitoring solutions is growing rapidly, the real question is how companies will use the feedback they collect. Most companies (especially large ones) collect huge amounts of data but few leverage much of it. Feedback is of minimal value unless it’s analyzed and applied to business operations.

So while it’s good that companies have a wide selection of sophisticated options for tracking feedback and monitoring their reputations, they can’t forget that data is only valuable if it’s used.

Photo credit: James Cridland via Flickr.