Customer Sentiment – Is There Anything More Important?

Understanding customer sentiment and providing managers with actionable insights into what’s driving it is crucial to elevating the customer experience in contact centers.

What is Customer Sentiment Analysis?

Customer sentiment is rapidly becoming one of the most critical metrics to measure in call centers and contact centers. Sentiment analysis, also known as opinion mining, is an AI-powered technology used by companies to monitor and analyze customer sentiment. This analysis leverages machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to understand customers' emotions, attitudes, and opinions towards their products, services, customer support, or brand. It involves evaluating various forms of communication, including phone conversations, live chats, instant messages, and social media posts.

In the call center context, sentiment analysis focuses on analyzing real-time phone conversations between customers and agents. The goal is to track customer sentiment and understand the emotions and feelings of callers during these interactions. By pairing sentiment analysis with other customer experience metrics, call center managers can measure customer satisfaction and gain actionable insights into agent performance.


Sentiment analysis in call centers offers several benefits, including:

  • Better understanding of customers' emotions and attitudes towards the company's products and services.
  • Measurement of customer satisfaction levels through real-time analysis of phone conversations.
  • Enhanced visibility into agent performance, allowing for targeted improvements and training.


Sentiment analysis in call centers can be applied in various use cases, such as identifying customer pain points and areas for improvement in products or services. It can also be used to track customer sentiment during support interactions to ensure a positive experience. Such analyses can help in assessing the effectiveness of agent responses in addressing customer concerns and emotions.

Overall, sentiment analysis plays a crucial role in helping call centers understand and respond to customer emotions effectively, ultimately leading to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.


How Customer Sentiment Analysis Works

Sentiment analysis is a multifaceted process. It considers numerous criteria to accurately assess the sentiment of the speaker, such elements may include:

  1. Words and Vocabulary: The specific words used by the speaker can convey different emotions and sentiments. Certain words or phrases may indicate positivity, negativity, or neutrality.

  2. Intonation: The tone or intonation of the speaker's voice plays a crucial role in conveying sentiment. For example, a cheerful and upbeat tone typically indicates positivity, while a flat or monotone voice may suggest neutrality or lack of enthusiasm.

  3. Pitch Variations: Variations in pitch, such as high or low pitches, can convey different emotional states. High pitches may indicate excitement or happiness, while low pitches may suggest sadness or frustration.

  4. Rate of Speech: The speed at which the speaker talks can also influence sentiment analysis. Rapid speech may indicate excitement or agitation, while slow speech may suggest boredom or frustration.

  5. Speech Fluency: Fluency refers to the smoothness and coherence of the speaker's speech. Fluent speech is typically associated with confidence and positivity, while hesitations or stuttering may indicate uncertainty or discomfort.

  6. Loudness: The volume or loudness of the speaker's voice can convey emotions such as anger, excitement, or enthusiasm. Increased loudness may indicate strong emotions, whether positive or negative.

  7. Amount of Stress and Frustration: Stress and frustration in a speaker's voice can be detected through various vocal cues, such as changes in pitch, volume, or tone. These cues can provide insights into the speaker's emotional state and overall sentiment.

By analyzing these and other variables, sentiment analysis technology, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, can provide a more objective interpretation of speech, enabling organizations to gain valuable insights into customer emotions and perceptions during interactions. This allows for more informed decision-making and targeted improvements in customer service and satisfaction.

Benefits of Customer Sentiment Analysis in Call Centers


  1. Gauging Customer Satisfaction: While traditional metrics like CSAT and NPS (Net Promoter Score) rely on voluntary responses, sentiment analysis provides a more comprehensive view by evaluating every interaction, thereby offering insights into overall customer satisfaction levels.

  2. Enhancing Customer Experience: Real-time tracking of customer sentiment enables agents to adjust their language and tone accordingly, leading to more empathetic and personalized interactions. This, in turn, reduces call escalations, enhances overall experience, and boosts customer loyalty and retention.

  3. Increasing Sales: In outbound call centers, real-time sentiment analysis aids agents in identifying potential sales opportunities by recognizing positive sentiments indicative of customer interest. This can lead to effective upselling, cross-selling, and introducing new offerings.

  4. Assessing Agent Performance: Sentiment analysis provides deeper insights into agent performance by evaluating how they handle customer conversations, especially in dealing with negative sentiment. This helps managers identify training gaps and refine coaching sessions accordingly.

  5. Identifying Improvement Opportunities: By analyzing customer sentiment, managers can understand the root causes of customer dissatisfaction, identify trends and preferences, and uncover issues that might otherwise remain unnoticed. This enables refinement of call scripts, adjustments in call routing, and improvements in internal processes to better meet customer expectations.

  6. Spotting Issues Beyond Service: Sentiment analysis can identify broader issues affecting customer sentiment, such as dissatisfaction with specific products or services. Managers can then provide actionable insights to relevant teams, such as product development and marketing, to address these issues effectively.

  7. Enhancing Customer Profiles: Tracking sentiment analysis data over time allows call centers to understand customers at a deeper level and enhance customer profiles. This enables personalized interactions and efficient call routing based on historical sentiment data, contributing to improved overall customer satisfaction.

Overall, sentiment analysis in call centers serves as a valuable tool for improving customer satisfaction, agent performance, and operational efficiency by providing insights into customer emotions and preferences.

Challenges and Limitations of Sentiment Analysis


  1. Challenges and Limitations:

    • Complexity of Human Language: Human language is nuanced and context-dependent, making it challenging for sentiment analysis algorithms to accurately interpret sentiments. This complexity underscores the power of AI to navigate the subtleties of natural language but also highlights its limitations.

    • Sarcasm and Irony: People often use sarcasm or irony to express negative or neutral sentiments using positive language, which can confuse sentiment analysis tools.

    • Contextual Understanding: Sentiment analysis algorithms may struggle to grasp the context of statements, leading to misinterpretation of sentiments, which illustrates the importance of contextual analysis.

    • Ambiguity in Language: Ambiguous language or phrases with multiple meanings can lead to inaccuracies in sentiment analysis results. Addressing this requires advancements in language processing to better understand customer feedback.

  2. Example:

    • The example provided, "I love it having to wait on hold for an hour," illustrates how sentiment analysis tools may misclassify sentiments. While the statement appears positive on the surface, the actual sentiment expressed is negative due to the dissatisfaction with long hold times.

    • This highlights the importance of considering contextual cues and understanding the underlying meaning of statements, which can be challenging for sentiment analysis algorithms.

  3. Recommendation:

    • Given these challenges, it's crucial to use sentiment analysis in conjunction with other analysis methods when evaluating customer interactions in call centers.

    • Human oversight and interpretation can help mitigate inaccuracies by providing context and understanding nuances in language that algorithms may overlook.

    • Continuous refinement and training of sentiment analysis models can also help improve accuracy over time, enhancing customer experience management.


In summary, while sentiment analysis is a valuable tool for monitoring customer interactions in call centers, it's essential to recognize its limitations and supplement it with human judgment to ensure accurate interpretation of sentiments.

Best Practices for Improving Sentiment Analysis Scores in a Call Center


  1. Employing Active Listening:
    • Agents should actively listen to understand the customer's issue and its root cause effectively. This practice is crucial for experience management, enabling them to respond appropriately and provide optimal solutions, leading to improved customer experience and positive sentiment. Incorporating generative AI techniques can further enhance understanding and response to customer feedback.

  2. Demonstrating Empathy:
    • Showing empathy towards customers' feelings helps in diffusing challenging conversations, reducing escalations, and calming frustrated customers. This approach is vital in improving customer sentiment and turning negative sentiment into positive ones, thereby fostering stronger relationships.

  3. Owning the Customer's Issue:
    • Agents should take ownership of customer issues, even if immediate resolution is not possible. Assuring customers that their concerns will be addressed helps in building confidence and avoiding negative sentiment.

  4. Allowing Flexibility in Responses:
    • While adhering to scripts is important for consistency, agents should be empowered to be flexible in their responses. Personalized interactions contribute to improved customer sentiment and satisfaction. This flexibility is key in customer journey optimization and enhancing the user experience.

  5. Matching the Tone to Build Rapport:
    • Adapting the tone and communication style to match the customer's sentiment helps in building rapport, increasing trust, and avoiding negative sentiment. Agents should be able to capture and respond to the customer's emotions effectively.

  6. Wrapping up on a Positive Note:
    • Ending the interaction on a positive note is crucial as it can significantly impact the customer's perception and sentiment score. Expressing appreciation, providing information about the next steps, or encouraging them to get in touch in the future can leave a positive last impression, crucial for maintaining loyal customers and brand reputation.

By incorporating these best practices into their interactions, call center agents can enhance customer satisfaction, reduce negative sentiment, and contribute to overall positive customer experiences.

Automated Quality Management - Analyze Every Call for Customer Sentiment

The ability to analyze 100 percent of customer/agent conversations is key to the success of any effort to diagnose customer sentiment. That said, there’s a limit to how many calls a manager is able to physically listen to; the best you can hope for using a manual review process is 1-2 percent of calls – certainly not an adequate sample-size.

Moreover, those 1-2 percent are likely chosen randomly. In a manual review scenario there’s no systematic way of identifying ‘problematic’ calls, and those are the calls managers need to spend their time analyzing. The alternative is an Automated Quality Management/Speech Analytics tool that analyzes every conversation and assigns a score based on attributes, including:

  • Emotion (agent, customer)
  • Speech phrases
  • Number of interruptions
  • Crosstalk
  • Silence
  • Handling time


Those scores indicate which calls merit a deeper, manual review. Managers have only so much time to review calls. Auto Quality Management enables them to dedicate that time to the calls that matter – the calls that can provide meaningful insights into customer sentiment.

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