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VERBATIM ANALYTICS Tip #12 Define hot topics

[fa icon="calendar"] Dec 15, 2016 11:26:05 AM / by Matti Airas

 We have spent close to a decade trying to figure out what is the appropriate level of detail in a feedback categorization system or scheme. The challenge is finding the right balance between significance and granularity. 

How to figure out what are the important hot topics from this list of 483 Topics?

In Etuma feedback categorization service all relevant words and phrases are contextually mapped into hundreds of topics. Contextually means that a word or a phrase can be mapped into multiple topics depending on semantics (meaning). 

 Some of the topics are “hard” like PRICING, STORE LAYOUT and some are “soft” like EASE, CONVENIENCE, QUALITY. In other words, topics are not created equal. Soft topics should be used in conjunction with hard topics. They can also be used to filter the whole dataset (e.g. what hard topics customers that mention EASE are talking about?).

Definition of a hot topic

I do the hot topic definition manually. First I create a list of topics that get the most mentions. Then I go through them one by one, remove “soft” topics and make sure that the topic context is correct by checking the top ten words and phrases mapped to a hot topic. 

You need to ensure that the topics are defined correctly. Here are the top 10 words and phrases that are mapped to a topic called SEATS. In this case you might want to create a separate topic for TOILET SEAT or if not relevant, exclude it from the analysis.

At the end of this process, you should have anywhere between 10 and 25 hot topics. In the AcmeAir example I was able to identify 16 hot topics.

The distinction between hot and other topics should be done in the database. But this can cause a problem because your business changes all the time. What is a weak signalthis month could, in six months, become a hot topic. Database changes are often too slow and difficult to make (unless you or somebody in your team have a direct access and the right to make the changes). That’s why I like to define the hot topics within the visualization and reporting platform. This approach requires that you distribute verbatim analysis results via a centralized customer experience management team. If not, the hot topics distinction needs to be done in the CX database (Tip #3).

Besides defining the hot topics, I also pool topics by the customer journey touchpoints (Tip #7) and organizational roles (Tip #9). This enables you to easily share relevant and actionable information with the customer experience stakeholders (Tip #1). 


We are writing a series of blog posts on the topic “25 tips for extracting actionable insight from open-ended comments". If you prefer watching a video, click the link below.




Topics: Customer Journey, text analysis, NPS, customer experience, verbatim analytics

Matti Airas

Written by Matti Airas

My passion is to figure out how to turn open-text feedback into well structured usable information.