Netflix is using real-time sentiment analysis to tell when it's annoyed its users.
There's something about Twitter that encourages complaining. Your flight was delayed? The correct response, obviously, is to inform everyone of the massive inconvenience that has befallen you. Your cable's out? Ditto. Your salmon entrée arrived too cold, your tuna tartare too warm? Ditto.
For users, that tendency can make Twitter occasionally annoying. But for service providers, it can also make Twitter a treasure trove. In general, a healthy percentage of the billion or so messages posted to the service each week contain feedback about companies and their services. And whether that feedback comes in the form of glowing testimonials or incredibly angry screeds, it is instructive. And companies that provide web-based services, in particular, have an obvious interest in tracking that feedback in real time.
One of those companies is Netflix. As the firm, both pre- and post-Qwikster, has expanded its movie-streaming service, it's also had to evolve its customer-service strategy. If Downton Abbey's down, Netflix technicians want to know about it -- and they want to know about it right away, lest their users go all Dowager Countess on them. For Netflix, as for all digital service providers, response times of days or even hours will no longer cut it: Customers expect replies to their complaints that are delivered efficiently, sincerely, and yesterday.