Decoding the Digital Dance: The Strategic Power of Email Sentiment Analysis

Emails: the de facto communication tool for business. But beyond the structured data — the numbers, the dates, the bullet points — there lies a narrative driven by sentiment. The relationship between a supplier and a buyer isn’t just about transactional exchanges; it’s a dynamic interplay of motivations, hesitations, and aspirations.

Email sentiment analysis: a tool that goes beyond the explicit to decode the implicit. Let’s dissect a hypothetical conversation between a supplier and a buyer, highlighting the nuanced insights this form of analysis can offer. The question isn’t just what is said, but how it’s expressed, and more importantly, what it means for the future of business communications.

To bring this concept to life, let’s create a hypothetical yet illustrative email exchange between a supplier and a buyer:

The Example

 

Monday, April 3, 2023, 9:15 AM

From Contractor:

Dear [Client],

We are thrilled you are considering us for the new office renovation. As discussed, please find attached our proposal with pricing and timelines. We look forward to partnering on this project. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Regards,

[Name]

 

Tuesday, April 4, 2023, 3:30 PM

From Client:

Hi [Contractor],

I’ve reviewed the proposal and have some concerns. The timeline seems aggressive given potential delays in permitting. Also, the pricing is higher than I expected. Can you please revise the bid to account for a more realistic schedule and get the price down to $180,000? That is our maximum budget.

Thanks,

[Client Name]

 

 

Wednesday, April 5, 2023, 10:25 AM

From Contractor:

Dear [Client],

I understand your concerns, but it will be difficult to reduce the pricing so drastically and still deliver the high-quality work you expect. We are confident in the proposed timeline based on our experience. Perhaps we could discuss which aspects are most important to you so I can rework the bid. Please let me know your thoughts.

Regards,

[Name]



Friday, April 7, 2023, 1:45 PM

From Client:

[Contractor],

Quality is important but staying on budget is my top priority. Can you scale back certain finishes or features to get closer to $180,000? I need this bid to pencil out before presenting it to my team. There is flexibility on the timeline – we just can’t exceed 90 days. Help me make this work.

Thanks,

[Client]

 

Monday, April 10, 2023, 8:55 AM

From Contractor:

Dear [Client],

I reviewed the bid again and think we can get within $5K of your budget by downgrading some finishes, using more cost-effective framing in certain areas, and adjusting the contingency. However, further cuts would compromise the quality and functionality. Please review the revised proposal and let me know if we are now aligned on scope and budget. I hope we can move forward on this soon!

Regards,

[Name]

 

Thursday, April 13, 2023, 4:05 PM

From Client:

Thanks for working with me on this. I’m still concerned about the ability to finish in 90 days with permitting delays, but the budget is now closer to our range. Let me discuss with my partners and get back to you early next week. I appreciate you making this concession.

Regards,

[Client]

Using ChatGPT4

For simplicity’s sake, when doing it with a real conversation, copy/paste the email thread into a single document.

Now copy/paste the email conversation and prompt:

 Q: Can you provide me with sentiment analysis on this email exchange?

Sentiment Analysis:

  1. From Contractor (First Email):

    Sentiment: Positive

    Explanation: The contractor begins with expressing excitement about the potential project. Providing the proposal and looking forward to partnering exudes a sense of eagerness and optimism. The tone is professional and helpful.

  1. From Client (First Email):

    Sentiment: Neutral to Negative

    Explanation: While the client acknowledges reviewing the proposal, they express concerns about both the timeline and the pricing. Their tone is straightforward and firm about the need for revisions.

  1. From Contractor (Second Email):

    Sentiment: Neutral

    Explanation: The contractor acknowledges the client’s concerns but indicates that reducing the price drastically would be challenging. This is coupled with a reassurance of their confidence in their initial proposed timeline. They are being diplomatic and trying to find a middle ground by suggesting a discussion.

  1. From Client (Second Email):

    Sentiment: Neutral to Negative

    Explanation: The client clearly states their priorities, emphasizing the budget and the need to adjust the proposal to fit within their constraints. The tone is firm, and there’s an evident urgency to have the bid adjusted.

  1. From Contractor (Third Email):

    Sentiment: Neutral to Positive

    Explanation: The contractor has tried to accommodate the client’s request by revisiting and adjusting the bid. They highlight potential changes but also establish a boundary for how much they can modify without compromising quality. The tone is solution-oriented.

  1. From Client (Third Email):

    Sentiment: Neutral

    Explanation: The client appreciates the contractor’s efforts but still has reservations about the timeline. They communicate a need to discuss with their partners before making a decision, which indicates they’re being cautious.

Overall Summary:

The conversation between the client and the contractor oscillates between neutral and negative sentiments. The contractor starts with a positive note, hoping for collaboration. The client, on the other hand, is consistently focused on their constraints, especially budget. The contractor tries to accommodate while setting boundaries on quality and budget. The exchange ends on a note of cautious optimism with the client appreciating the contractor’s efforts.

 


Q: What should the next steps be?

Next Steps

Given the sentiment analysis and the content of the email exchange, here are the suggested next steps for the contractor:

    Follow-Up: Wait for the client’s feedback after their discussion with partners. If a week or so goes by without a response, send a courteous follow-up email to check on the progress of the decision-making process.

    Preparation for Potential Delays: Considering the client’s concerns regarding potential permitting delays, the contractor should start researching alternative solutions or backup plans to ensure the project remains on track. This proactive approach might ease some of the client’s apprehensions.

    Alternative Proposals: While waiting, prepare alternative scaled-back proposals or options that could potentially fit the client’s budget without compromising on the core quality. This will be useful in future negotiations, should they arise.

    Feedback Session: Consider scheduling a face-to-face meeting or a video call with the client once they have discussed with their partners. This could help in addressing concerns more efficiently and building rapport.

 


Q: What other analysis could you do based on these email exchanges?

Other Analysis

Based on the provided email exchanges, there are several analytical perspectives we can approach:

  1. Content Analysis:

   * Assess the substantive content of the emails to understand the primary concerns, motivations, and priorities of both parties. For example, the client places a higher emphasis on budget, while the contractor emphasizes quality.

  1. Negotiation Dynamics Analysis:

   * Examine the back-and-forth between the client and contractor to identify negotiation tactics, concessions made, and the power dynamics at play.

  1. Communication Style Analysis:

   * Analyze the tone, structure, and word choices of each party to understand their communication styles. This could provide insights into their preferences, comfort zones, or even their personalities.

  1. Priority Mapping:

   * List down the expressed priorities of both parties, ranking them in order of mention or emphasis. This can help in understanding what each party values most in the project.

  1. Gap Analysis:

   * Compare the initial proposal details with the client’s concerns and the subsequent revisions to identify any gaps in expectations or understanding between the two parties.

  1. Historical Analysis (if previous communications are available):

   * Analyze previous email exchanges or communications to understand the history of their relationship, past negotiations, or any recurring issues or concerns.

  1. Cultural or Contextual Analysis:

   * If there’s information about the cultural or professional backgrounds of both parties, a cultural or contextual analysis can provide insights into potential cultural influences or industry norms that might affect their communication or expectations.

  1. Stakeholder Analysis:

   * Understand who the decision-makers and influencers are from the emails. For example, the client mentions discussing with partners, implying multiple stakeholders on their end.

  1. Risk Analysis:

   * Identify potential risks or issues raised in the emails, such as permitting delays or budget overruns, and assess the possible impacts and probabilities.

  1. Response Time Analysis (if timestamps are available):

   * Calculate the response times between emails. This can offer insights into the urgency or priority given to the project by each party.

By approaching the email exchanges from these analytical perspectives, one can derive a deeper understanding of the relationship dynamics, priorities, and potential future interactions between the two parties.

CLAUDE

After the interaction with ChatGPT4, I asked Claude the same questions.

Q: Can you provide me with sentiment analysis on this email exchange?

Here is a sentiment analysis of the email exchange:

The client starts off skeptical and concerned, focusing on the timeline being too aggressive and the pricing being higher than expected. Their language is direct and firm in asking for revisions to the proposal.

The contractor is initially defensive and resistant to reducing the pricing so significantly. But they aim to be collaborative by offering to discuss priorities and rework the bid.

The client reiterates their firm stance on budget being the top priority. Their language conveys urgency and inflexibility on getting the costs down.

The contractor becomes more understanding and willing to make concessions on pricing by downgrading finishes and adjusting contingency. They sound hopeful for moving forward.

The client now seems more appreciative and satisfied with the budget changes. But they still have some lingering doubts about the timeline. Overall, their tone has become more positive and amenable.

In summary, the client started off dissatisfied and demanding but became more appeased through the contractor’s eventual flexibility and compromises. The contractor was initially stubborn but evolved to be more accommodating and cooperative. Both parties concluded the exchange with optimism about potentially moving forward.

 


Q: What should be the sellers next steps?

Sellers Next Steps

Based on this email exchange, here are some potential next steps the contractor/seller could consider:

– Follow up with the client early next week as mentioned to get a definite answer on whether they want to move forward with the revised proposal. Don’t let too much time lapse.

– Seek clarification on the timeline concerns. Ask if there are any ways to mitigate or prevent permitting delays. Offer options to fast-track certain aspects.

– Provide assurances about ability to complete the project within the 90 day timeframe based on past experience and contingencies already built in. Reinforce confidence.

– If client is still hesitant about timeline, explore a phased approach as a compromise. Prioritize the most important elements to be done first.

– Discuss payment schedule and contract terms to ensure timely payment if project gets delayed out of contractor’s control.

– Maintain spirit of collaboration and flexibility. Offer to continue working with client to refine plan.

– Be prepared to adjust proposal further if necessary within reasonable limits to get client’s sign-off.

– Thank client for opportunity and reiterate desire to earn their business and deliver an outstanding finished product.

The goal should be to get the client fully on board and confident to move ahead with the contractor’s company for the project. Additional communication, reassurances, and willingness to compromise as needed are key.

 


Q: What other analysis could you do based on these email exchanges?

Other Analysis

Here are some other types of analysis I could provide based on this email exchange:

– Tone analysis: Look at the overall tone and emotion conveyed in the emails on each side – are they friendly, hostile, warm, defensive etc. How do they evolve throughout the exchange?

– Power dynamic analysis: Assess the balance of power between client and contractor based on language asserting control, dominance, inflexibility etc. Does one side hold more power or influence?

– Negotiation style analysis: Evaluate how each party approaches negotiation – are they collaborative, competitive, avoidant etc. Assess their strategies and tactics.

– Relationship analysis: Determine the state of the business relationship based on indicators of trust, rapport, respect. Do the exchanges strengthen or weaken the relationship?

– Persuasion technique analysis: Identify influence tactics, arguments, and reasoning each side uses to make their case and persuade the other. Evaluate effectiveness.

– Compliance gaining analysis: Assess strategies each party uses to gain the other’s compliance and agreement. Are they soft or harsh tactics?

– Conflict analysis: Determine sources of conflict, how they escalate or de-escalate. Assess cooperation vs competitiveness.

– Outcome analysis: Evaluate indications of satisfaction, dissatisfaction, resolution vs ongoing dispute at the end. Determine success vs failure.

Llama 2

Sure, I can provide you with a sentiment analysis of the email exchange between you and the contractor.

Sentiment Analysis:

  1. Contractor’s First Email:

Sentiment: Positive

Tone: Professional, enthusiastic

Keywords: thrilled, considering, partnership

  1. Client’s First Email:

Sentiment: Neutral

Tone: Polite, inquisitive

Keywords: concerns, timeline, pricing

  1. Contractor’s Second Email:

Sentiment: Confident

Tone: Professional, understanding

Keywords: confident, high-quality, experience

  1. Client’s Second Email:

Sentiment: Persistent

Tone: Polite, firm

Keywords: budget, flexibility, timeline

  1. Contractor’s Third Email:

Sentiment: Accommodating

Tone: Professional, helpful

Keywords: reviewed, adjusted, aligned

  1. Client’s Third Email:

Sentiment: Appreciative

Tone: Polite, grateful

Keywords: discussed, concession, appreciate

Overall, the sentiment analysis suggests that both parties are maintaining a professional and polite tone throughout the email exchange. The contractor is showing enthusiasm and confidence in their work, while the client is expressing concerns and persisting in their budget constraints. The contractor is accommodating the client’s requests and making concessions to meet their needs. The client is appreciative of the contractor’s efforts to work with them.

if you are the contractor, what would your next steps be?

As the contractor, my next steps would be:

  1. Review the revised proposal and ensure that it meets the client’s requirements and budget constraints.
  2. Provide a detailed breakdown of the revised proposal, including the scope of work, timeline, and pricing, to ensure transparency and clarity for the client.
  3. Schedule a follow-up meeting or call with the client to discuss the revised proposal and address any remaining concerns or questions they may have.
  4. Offer alternatives or suggestions to help the client stay within their budget, such as value engineering or suggestions for cost-saving measures.
  5. Work with the client to finalize the proposal and ensure that all parties are aligned on the scope, timeline, and budget.
  6. Once the proposal is finalized, begin the permitting process and secure the necessary permits to ensure a smooth and timely project delivery.
  7. Coordinate with the client to establish a payment schedule and ensure that all invoices are paid promptly and in accordance with the agreed-upon terms.
  8. Maintain open communication channels with the client throughout the project, providing regular updates on progress, timeline, and budget, and addressing any issues or concerns that may arise.

By following these steps, I believe I can effectively address the client’s concerns, deliver a high-quality project that meets their needs, and maintain a positive working relationship with the client.

What other analysis could you do based on these email exchanges?

There are several other analyses that can be conducted based on the email exchanges between the contractor and the client. Here are some examples:

  1. Keyword analysis: This involves identifying the most frequently used keywords or phrases in the email exchanges to understand the main topics of discussion.
  2. Sentiment analysis: This involves analyzing the tone and sentiment of the emails to understand the emotions and attitudes of the contractor and the client.
  3. Named entity recognition: This involves identifying and extracting specific entities such as names, locations, organizations, and dates mentioned in the emails.
  4. Topic modeling: This involves identifying the underlying topics or themes discussed in the emails.
  1. Text classification: This involves classifying the emails into predefined categories such as “contract,” “payment,” “schedule,” etc.
  2. Clustering analysis: This involves grouping similar emails together based on their content to identify patterns or trends.
  3. Network analysis: This involves analyzing the communication patterns between the contractor and the client to identify the most important communication channels and relationships.
  4. Summarization: This involves automatically generating a summary of the email exchanges to provide a quick overview of the main points discussed.
  5. Question-answer analysis: This involves identifying questions asked by the client and answering them based on the information provided in the emails.
  6. Next step prediction: This involves predicting the next steps that the contractor or the client is likely to take based on the information provided in the emails.

 

These are just a few examples of the types of analyses that can be conducted based on the email exchanges between the contractor and the client. The specific analysis will depend on the goals and objectives of the project.

How to Enhance AI’s Sentiment Analysis of Email Threads

 

Providing additional contextual elements can enhance an AI’s accuracy when conducting sentiment analysis on an email thread:

  • Background on the relationship between parties, their roles/positions, industry context, and circumstances surrounding the exchange helps the AI interpret nuances and sentiment shifts.
  • Highlight tone indicators like urgency/enthusiasm and provide any follow-up correspondence confirming sentiment assumptions.
  • Note each party’s intended goals, along with transcripts of related verbal exchanges.
  • Share cultural/linguistic background, author profiles, and records of past interactions to account for influences on communication style and sentiment.
  • Have subject matter experts review exchanges to pick up nuances the AI may miss initially.
  • Allow the AI to ask clarifying questions about intent and meaning.
  • Provide timestamps, email length, attachments, and thread structure metadata for additional context.
  • Supply historical communications data to establish patterns over time.
  • Use labeled datasets, tone/polarity word lists, industry jargon glossaries, and user feedback to further train the model.

The more contextual information supplied, the better the AI can interpret subtle signals and provide an accurate, nuanced sentiment analysis. Ongoing collaboration between human experts and AI helps refine results.

 

Nuance as Competitive Advantage

The nuances of human interaction, when codified into data, become powerful drivers of business strategy. Email sentiment analysis converts subjective expressions into objective insights, revealing not just what is said but the deeper motivations behind the message. For suppliers and buyers alike, understanding unspoken sentiments can make the difference between a relationship that falters and one that flourishes over the long haul.

In our brief example, pivoting from defensive insistence to flexible collaboration opened the door to mutually beneficial outcomes. The granular details hold the key: the initial enthusiasm, the firmly stated budget limits, the eventual appreciation. Look beyond the words, and you will find a map to enduring partnerships.

With the right analytical tools, we can decode the complex dance of business communication. The future belongs to those who hear what remains unsaid.