The most common way to give feedback to a company is via an email survey or webform where your response is recorded as written text. But it’s widely recognised that written text has limitations – and many companies use text analytic tools and sentiment analysis widgets to try and derive more meaning from the feedback they have received.

As a linguistics student, at Edinburgh University, back in the 90s I studied in depth the impact of spoken language over written.  There is so much nuance and meaning that is conveyed through speech that simply cannot be conveyed through text. Even with the proper use of punctuation and the use of conventions, such as  italics for emphasis, meaning is easily mis-interepreted or lost.  The need to try and compensate for this in the age of instant messaging apps has seen the birth and rise of emojis and gifs.

It all serves to illustrate that written language is trying to adapt to be the language of conversation – when in fact for 1000s of years the only method of conversation was voice.  So, it would be logical to suggest that (assuming it was easy and cost effective to do so) if a company wants to engage in “conversation” with customers in order to better understand them – much better to do this via spoken, rather than written language.